PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A local Filipina business owner wanted to build community and connection among women-owned businesses in the Portland area, especially after a rough few years due to the pandemic.

Amanda Mailey owns a marketing company that serves women in business called AList. She decided to create a monthly meetup for local women business owners, called Women Supporting Women.

Due to COVID-19, Mailey was initially connecting through Instagram, giving local BIPOC women business owners shoutouts. Once Erica of Erica’s Soul Food came down with a case of COVID-19 and had to shut her business down for two weeks, Mailey knew she needed to do more.

Women Supporting Women meetup with Erica’s Soul Food. (Courtesy: FLI Social)

“We showed up with 20 people and $500 of lunch was provided that day,” Mailey explained. “And [Erica] can get that immediate money into her pocket.”

Mailey then launched the WSW “Treat a Boss” monthly meet-ups, which is a lunch on the last Wednesday of each month. The money to put on the lunch is crowdfunded, with cash going directly to the business owners who provide the meals.

“I met Amanda on Instagram during the pandemic and she would always shout me out — Mimi’s Fresh Tees — and I was like, ‘who is this person?'” MiMi’s owner Kamelah Adams said. “I’m honored to be here with her and part of what she’s created.”

On the day KOIN 6 News visited, the Treat a Boss campaign raised $550 to go to Mama Dut, which provided lunch, $120 to Kate’s Great Plant-Based Ice Cream and $75 to HeyDay Donut — all local businesses owned by women.

Mailey says women of color are the fastest-growing demographic of founders, despite receiving less than 3% of venture capital funding. That’s why these connections and collaboration are key.

“I think sometimes when you don’t see it because we’re not covered a lot in the media, it’s hard,” Mailey explained. “You start to feel like you’re alone and being here, you realize that’s just not true.”

If you would like to contribute to the Treat a Boss meet-ups for the women business owners, visit their GoFundMe page.