Marsha Bailey launched WEV in 1991, after three years of planning and fundraising. “The idea that women’s economic status could be improved by helping them start their own businesses was both innovative and unproven,” said Bailey. “But twenty-eight years later, WEV has proven not only that business ownership can provide a viable pathway out of poverty; it can also build family wealth and stability as well as contribute to the economic well-being of our communities.”
Initially, WEV served South Santa Barbara County with Bailey as its only full-time employee supported by a half-time assistant and dozens of volunteers. Its annual budget was $75,000. Today WEV serves all of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, has more than 30 full and part-time staff and an annual budget of $2.5 million.
WEV has been nationally recognized for its high-impact, innovative programs which have helped start or expand more than 4,500 businesses on California’s Central Coast through its training, consulting and loan programs.
As WEV’s CEO, Bailey has served on many local, state and national boards and has been a consultant and mentor to emerging leaders and organizations both nationally and internationally (including Nepal, Jordan, Hungary, and Paris.) She is a former member of the National Women’s Business Council, which provides policy guidance to the White House, Congress and the Small Business Administration on issues related to women’s business ownership and chaired the board of the national Association of Women’s Business Centers for five years.
Bailey has a Master’s Degree in Communication from UCSB and a B.A. from Michigan State University in Fine Art and Sociology. She is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional.
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