Ballinger Leafblad is pleased to conduct the search for CEO at WomenVenture, a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota
WomenVenture is a vibrant Twin Cities-based non-profit organization focused on providing women of all ages, cultures, races, and income levels with the tools and resources to achieve economic success through small business ownership.
Over its 42-year history, the organization has served over 105,000 clients with in-depth training, expert advice, access to capital (loans), and a network of support.
WomenVenture is an economic development agency designated as an SBA Women’s Business Center, one of the largest in the country. Also a CDFI, WomenVenture has been honored as a top CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) in six of the past eight years.
The staff at WomenVenture describe the organizational culture as mission-driven, focused on goals and clients, helpful, friendly, progressive, collaborative and fast-paced with lots of new ideas. Staff are proud of how they have seamlessly pivoted to continue serving clients during the pandemic.
WomenVenture was formed in a 1989 merger of two prominent women-serving organizations, CHART and WEDCO.
In 1977, local leaders established CHART, a nonprofit organization supporting women entering or re-entering the workforce and to assist women with the skills and support needed to take responsibility for their own workplace satisfaction and career development.
Another nonprofit, WEDCO (Women’s Economic Development Corp.) was established in 1982. The goals of WEDCO were to increase the economic self-sufficiency of women through self-employment, improve women's access to capital, and to act as a catalyst in connecting women to emerging business opportunities.
In 1989, CHART and WEDCO merged and became WomenVenture. The joining of these two distinguished organizations created a new entity offering a full spectrum of services related to career and business development for an increasingly diverse population of clients that included teens, technology-driven businesses, women in non-traditional construction trades, and more.
Through the years, WomenVenture has continued to evolve to assist women-owned businesses guided by values of integrity, embracing diversity, change agency and persistence. Today, WomenVenture is made up of 25 staff and over 200 volunteers who serve clients throughout Minnesota.
To empower entrepreneurial women with tools, capital, and support to lead businesses that create living wage jobs.
To help women attain economic self-sufficiency through the creation and growth of profitable and sustainable businesses.
SERVICES AND PROGRAMS
The services and programs provided by WomenVenture are oriented around four pillars of success:
Entrepreneurship Information Session reviews the variety of services available from WomenVenture for those planning to start or expand a business.
GettingReady class is designed to help emerging entrepreneurs determine whether small business ownership is right for them.
Small Business Essentials is a 15-week series that covers all of the critical components of creating and fine-tuning a business plan.
Accelerating Success is a 10-session class for women who have been in business for at least two years and have annual revenue over $100k, but have hit a plateau and are looking for a way to take their business to the next level. This course fills the space between the classes for start-ups and classes for much larger businesses. Course highlights include development of deeper financial business acumen, creation of a measurable and achievable growth plan, using strategic marketing to meet their growth goals, and participation in a BWC® Peer Circle upon course completion.
ScaleUp! is an education and coaching program offered by WomenVenture with the support of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). It is designed to accelerate progress for experienced women business owners who want to achieve exponential growth and create new jobs with pay well above minimum wage.
WomenVenture also provides Lunch & Learn sessions throughout the year on pertinent topics for women business owners.
Child Care was launched in 2017 as WomenVenture's first specific programming, created in an effort to combat the looming child care crisis in Minnesota.
In 2019, a new one-session program called Exploring Child Care was launched as an entry point for women entrepreneurs interested in starting a child care business. This two-and-a-half hour course provides insight into the business of providing quality child care, including an overview of state licensing requirements and a summary of the financial realities of starting a child care business.
If clients want to continue, the next course is the Family Child Care Business Essentials training course. This 10-session course leverages a nationally known family child care business curriculum.
WomenVenture has also launched a plan for entrepreneurs who want to start child care centers. Participants will move through the established Small Business Essentials curriculum, while receiving additional guidance and resources specific to the child care industry. Additional financial training is also provided.
ACCESS TO LOAN CAPITAL
WomenVenture offers loans from $1,000 to $50,000 to qualified new and existing business owners. WomenVenture is a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) lender.
Businesses in the 16-county Twin Cities metro area are able to take advantage of this program which includes access to business advisors for the duration of the loan.
WeLend initiative, is a transformative microlending program to reach low-income entrepreneurs.
MnDOT Working Capital Loan Fund has appointed WomenVenture to administer their funding for certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE). This includes help with the loan application as well as financial training, support and assistance.
Loan clients and clients taking training courses have a unique opportunity to receive business advice on a variety of topics from experts who volunteer their time to advise on myriad of subjects.
A strong intentional community of support is integral to the success of new and expanding business owners. WomenVenture provides facilitated peer circles, business mentors, networking opportunities and help from expert advisors to all the women in the classes.