News Release

Five Winners of National 'Make Mine a $Million Business' Program Receive Cisco Smart Business Communications Technology Packages

Packages Valued at $100,000 Donated to Women Entrepreneurs to Help Strengthen Their Competitive Advantage
Dec 05, 2006

SAN JOSE, Calif., December 5, 2006 - Cisco® today announced the donation of highly secure and flexible network solution packages, worth as much as $20,000, to five Make Mine a $Million Business program award recipients. The awardees were recognized October 24 in New York. The goal of the national Make Mine a $Million Business program is to foster a community of one million women-owned businesses earning $1 million or more in annual revenue by 2010.

The Cisco Smart Business Communications packages will be tailored to include networking products such as Cisco Unified CallManager Express, Cisco Unity Express, Cisco integrated services routers, Cisco Catalyst® Express 500 Series Switches, and Cisco Unified IP Phones. Installation, services, and support of the customized communications technology packages will be provided by authorized local Cisco specialized channel partners who are members of the Ingram Micro Services Network, a Cisco Authorized Distributor.

The Cisco technology packages will help enable the award recipients align their information technology strategies with their business goals and build sustainable networks they can expand as their businesses grow. The five Make Mine a $Million Business award recipients selected to receive the Cisco Smart Business Communications technology packages include:

  • Bonnie S. Marcus, President
    Bonnie's Style Press, based in Westport, Conn.
    Business: Fashion-forward invitation and greeting card company
  • Gina Stern, President
    D-Parture Spa, based in Newark, N.J.
    Business: Full-service spas located in airport terminals
  • Nandini Mukherjee, Founder and President
    Indian Bread Co., based in New York, N.Y.
    Business: Serves fresh and affordable Indian Food
  • Christie Nightingale
    Premier Match, based in New York, N.Y.
    Business: Matchmaking service for single professionals
  • Melinda Earl
    Stone Impressions, based in San Diego, Calif.
    Business: Manufacturing company making decorative natural stone tile products

The Make Mine a $Million Business Program was founded in 2005 by Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence, a non-profit organization providing online business loans and resources, and OPEN from American ExpressSM , the small-business team at American Express.

"I know how Cisco helps solve business problems through network technology, so we're thrilled they are a sponsor of the Make Mine a $Million Business program," said Nell Merlino, founder and CEO of Count Me In. "Part of technology is bringing people together to look at how to scale as demand for business increases. Cisco makes this kind of growth and excitement possible, particularly because of their generosity as a company."

Cisco and Ingram Micro will collaborate to pair local Cisco authorized partners with each of these businesses to conduct a Cisco Smart Business Roadmap assessment to help design an installation plan that best fits their business needs. Once the assessment has been conducted, the partners will install the Cisco Smart Business Communications solutions and provide the connectivity to the appropriate service provider chosen by the Cisco award recipients.

"Cisco's vision - to change the way people work, live, play and learn - is truly made possible through a network of diversity and a culture of inclusion that connect our workplace to the marketplace," said Lauren Ventura, senior director for small and medium-sized business marketing at Cisco Systems. "We at Cisco are so proud to be a sponsor of the Make Mine a $Million Business initiative and are looking forward to working with our partners to help the award recipients achieve their goals as their businesses evolve."

About Count-Me-In

Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of on-line business loans and resources for women to grow their micro businesses into $million enterprises. Find us at or call 212-245-1245.

About OPEN from American ExpressSM

OPENSM is the American Express team dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners and their companies. The OPEN Team supports business owners with unparalleled service. With tailored products and services, the team delivers purchasing power, flexibility, control and rewards to help customers run their business. Specifically, business owner customers can leverage an enhanced set of products, tools, services and savings, including charge and credit cards, convenient access to working capital, robust online account management capabilities and savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners. To obtain more information about OPENSM, visit, or call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a card or loan. Terms and conditions apply.

American Express Company ( is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.