Mahogany Bowers started her successful after-school food program Blessings in a Book Bag because she saw a need in the community for children on the free school lunch program. And now she says she's trying to fill another need in the community and using her nonprofit to host the first-ever Savannah Sisterhood Symposium.

"I saw a need in the market for women with mom-and-pop ventures," she says. "We have business expos, but we don't have any that cater to the level for mom-and-pop operations."

From Nov. 3-5, Blessings in a Book Bag and Bowers will present the Savannah Sisterhood Symposium. The three-day community resource fair and festival is designed to empower the women of our community.

The symposium features a free Kick-Off Community Partner Mixer on Nov. 3 at B Historic, the free C-Port Expo on Nov. 4 and the Women's Empowerment Brunch on Nov. 5, both at the International Longshoremen's Hall.

While the social and networking aspects of the event are important, Bowers adds that education for these business-minded women is also key.

"These are entrepreneurs who are making money, but they don't have a brand or logo or know how to market themselves. This is a platform so they can raise the bar. We want to make sure these women who are making good money can take their business to the next leve l⦠They will learn the skills so they can keep rising and rising."

The kick-off event is a free networking mixer that "gives women the chance to meet and mingle with women they may never meet otherwise. It's important for women to have a non-threatening, non-competitive environment where they can get together and collaborate."

The free C-Port Expo will begin at 8 a.m. Nov. 4 with "mind and body" exercise, including yoga at 8 a.m. and Zumba at 9 a.m.

Doors will open to the public at 10 a.m. as the all-female vendor expo begins. The day features live demos, entertainment, food and raffle prizes. There will also be a Kids' Zone for children.

The Women's Empowerment Brunch on Nov. 5, the weekend's only ticketed event, is a chance to recognize amazing women in their industries.

This year's Stride Award Honorees include Ann Levett for education; Kathy McCarthy for health and wellness; Denise Cooper for legal services; Carla Thompson Lasseter for health care; Stephanie Burgess for law; Molly Lieberman for community service; Kim Gusby for media/journalism; Julie Tolbert for law enforcement; Kai Williams for hospitality; Marilyn McDonald for real estate; and Mildred McClain for hometown heroism.

"And there will be a Survivor Strut at 1 p.m. We want women to bring their families to watch them strut their stuff and celebrate," Bowers says.

To be a part of the Survivor Strut, sign up at


What: Savannah Sisterhood Symposium

When: Nov. 3-5

Where: B Historic and International Longshoreman's Hall

Cost: Brunch is $45, other events free



Kick-Off Community Partner Mixer

5:30-9 p.m. Nov. 3 at B Historic, 320 Montgomery St. Free.

C-Port Women's Expo

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 4 (with exercise session at 8 a.m.) at International Longshoreman's Hall, 221 N. Lathrop Ave. Free.

Women's Empowerment Brunch

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 5 at International Longshoreman's Hall. Tickets are $45 at