Bethann West James and Hope Harris-Gayles on Creating Inclusive Entrepreneurial Support Networks

By working together and bringing entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders together with an interest in supporting Black and Brown-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, we can build stronger regional economies. This week, episode 9 of Entrepreneurship on the RISE Podcast is about creating inclusive entrepreneurial support networks!



In this episode of Entrepreneurship on the RISE Podcast, Jacob and Lauren, joined by their guests Bethann West James and Hope Harris-Gayles are sharing the importance of building a better ecosystem through diversity and how the Grapevine Network pours into their efforts of supporting these marginalized entrepreneurs.



Bethann West James | President and CEO of GemStone Professional Services Consultants,

Bethann West James

Bethann West James is the President and CEO of GemStone Professional Services Consultants, LLC, a private consulting firm. GemStone provides organizational development services to businesses of various sizes with specialty services for nonprofit organizations; Grant Writing, Management of Charitable Gifts, Business Development, Executive Coaching, Organizational Advocacy, Event Planning, Media, Advertising & Public Relations Tools, Search Planning or Coordination, Interim Staffing and Nonprofit Board and Leadership Training.
Bethann has a passion for problem solving and the identification of innovative solutions. Bethann has been assisting nonprofits in the Triangle area for over a decade. Bethann has over 25 years of nonprofit management experience throughout New Jersey, DC, Virginia, and North Carolina primarily focused on issues of youth and poverty; education, shelter, hunger and social justice.
Hope Harris-Gayles | Director, Communications & Outreach at Southern Virginia Higher Education Center

Hope Harris-Gayles

Hope Harris-Gayles serves as the Director of Communications & Outreach for the Southern VA Higher Education Center and brings over 15 years of marketing and communications experience.

Key Takeaways

  • How RISE Collaborative has evolved and grown over time. 
  • What is Grapevine in relation to RISE Collaborative and what it stands to accomplish. 
  • What the summit confirmed as to the kind of support entrepreneurs are looking for. 
  • Hope and Bethann’s vision for growth for the Grapevine Network.
  • Actionable tips to hold a productive meeting.

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, take a screenshot of the episode to post in your stories and tag us!  And don’t forget to follow, rate and review the podcast and tell me your key takeaways!


Learn more about RISE Collaborative at




Jemstone Consulting 






Dan River Region Black Chamber of Commerce 

Southern Virginia Higher Education Center

The Grapevine Entrepreneur Network

Longwood Small Business Development Center

Start With Why by Simon Sinek