We’re thrilled to spotlight one of the dazzling victors from our 2023 Women of Color Incubator Pitch Competition. These rising Black women entrepreneurs are set to ignite a flame of inspiration and drive in other aspiring young Black women entrepreneurs—and indeed, in all of us—encouraging the pursuit of their own entrepreneurial dreams with newfound zeal and passion.

Meet Tia Pope, Founder and CEO of Malva Mallow and 2nd Place Awardee from North Carolina A&T State University.

What inspired you to start your business? 

What inspired me to start my business was a combination of factors. Firstly, childbirth was always an uncomfortable topic for me, primarily due to fear, which was unfortunately backed by national statistics. After finally having a child and experiencing the birth experience, I learned a lot and saw a gap in the market that I could fill. Secondly, I was inspired by other successful female entrepreneurs who paved the way for women in business. Their stories motivated me to combine my research interest in computational intelligence in addressing the maternal health crisis.

What has the entrepreneurship journey looked like for you so far? 

The incubator experience has been an initial part of my entrepreneurial journey. The incubator has taught me that building a business requires hard work, resilience, and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. Networking and seeking mentorship have also been crucial in my journey.

What has been the most rewarding part of being a young female entrepreneur? 

The most rewarding part of being a young female entrepreneur has been the sense of empowerment and the opportunity to inspire other women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Seeing my ideas realized by others and positively impacting my community is also fulfilling.

Where do you see yourself in one year? How about 5 years? 

I plan to raise at least $1M in funds over the next year, allowing my business to establish a strong foundation to grow and expand. In five years, I envision my company reducing the maternal mortality rate by at least 3% nationally, thriving on a larger scale, with plans to make an international impact. I also hope to use my success to support and mentor other aspiring female entrepreneurs.

What advice would you give to other female founders just starting their business? 

My advice to other female founders just starting their business is to believe in yourself and your ideas. Surround yourself with a supportive network of mentors, advisors, and peers who can provide guidance and encouragement. As a Ph.D. student, eight months pregnant with an overflowing number of responsibilities, don’t be afraid to take risks and learn from your failures. Stay resilient and remember that being a female entrepreneur is a strength, not a limitation. Your unique perspective and experiences can be powerful assets in the business world.

How did you first learn about the WBENC WOC Incubator?

I first learned about the WBENC WOC Incubator through word of mouth when a student from another school recommended the program to me. Their enthusiasm for the program prompted me to explore it further, and I’m grateful for the recommendation. 

How would you describe your experience in the WOC Incubator Program? 

My experience in the WOC Incubator has been precious. It provided me with a supportive community of fellow women of color entrepreneurs and access to resources and mentorship I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The program has been instrumental in helping me refine my business strategy, improve my networking skills, and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities in my industry.

What did you learn during the WOC Incubator program that will help you grow your business? 

During the program, I learned the importance of building a solid network of mentors and advisors who can provide guidance and support. I also gained insights into effective marketing and sales strategies for my target audience. These lessons will be crucial as I continue to grow my business.

What’s next for you and your business? 

Next, I plan to implement the knowledge and skills I’ve gained from the program to build and scale my business and expand its reach. I’ll focus on building my platform, obtaining the necessary certifications for assurance, engaging with my customer base, and seeking opportunities for strategic partnerships. With the support of the WOC Incubator, I’m confident that my business will thrive in the coming years!!


Tia Pope
Founder and CEO | Malva Mallow

Malva is a Virtual Community Health Advisor. The Advisor is a multifaceted web-based service that utilizes the expertise of local experts with artificial intelligence to address critical community health needs. Initially focusing on maternal health, it is a comprehensive virtual platform connecting childbearing individuals with local maternal community health workers. It provides immediate support, customized education, resources, and guidance during pregnancy and early motherhood. Over time, I aim to expand its scope to address various aspects of community health work, catering to the needs of individuals, community health workers, and community organizations.