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Five businesswomen tasked with assessing applications for the Nia Mentor Award will have to decide from a pool of 89 submissions.

Launched in October 2020, the mentorship initiative conceptualised by CEO of Communications Consultancy Nia Comms, Marcella Andre, and communication specialist Jamilla Kirwan aims to provide financial, strategic, and personal guidance to one female entrepreneur.

The five women who will assess the applications and serve as mentors for the eventual winner are E Ann Henry QC, Vanessa Kelsick, Stephane Harris-Burke, Mickel Brann-Challenger, and Barbara A Arrindell. They will be joined by André and Kirwan.

Legal powerhouse Henry QC has led a distinguished career since 1981. She has always maintained a dedication to leadership roles among her goals. “Being a part of this allows me to pay it forward to a community which has been supportive and to be part of a most exciting initiative for women of this generation who will be the dynamos of the future,” she said.

Kelsick, one of LIAT’s first female captains on the De Havilland Dash-8, who has worked in the aviation field for 23 years, stated, “It is an honour to serve as a team member for the Nia Mentor Award. I think this is the beginning of something great not only for women, but for the nation of Antigua and Barbuda.”

CEO of SoSS Consulting, Harris-Burke is a financial consultant with over 30 years’ experience in banking and financial services. Her experience and ability to identify unique opportunities for business growth and sustainable expansion and her enthusiasm about success and collaboration make her an excellent addition to the team of mentors.

Brann-Challenger, a communications consultant and independent contractor, has more than 25 years in the media industry. As a respected thought leader, commentator, gender activist and lifelong mentor, her perspective is sought after and will greatly benefit the first awardee.

Arrindell, a customer service specialist, trainer, and writer whose combined interests and skills led her to becoming the owner of the Best Of Books store, is committed to continued development.

Meanwhile, André said she is beyond humbled by the support from the five women who have agreed to serve as mentors.

“I’m quite excited about what we’ll find when going through the applications. The response received so far indicates this is something that is not only wanted but needed. I can’t wait to find the winner,” she said.

For her part, Kirwan said, “This initiative has been a long time coming and seeing it come to fruition is such a joy. Not only are we fulfilling our purpose and empowering women but we are also honouring the women who came before us,” she added.

The deadline for the receipt of applications is noon today. The winner will be announced on February 15.