June 13, 2018
Santa Barbara, CA—Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) has been helping women succeed in business for nearly 30 years. Now, the organization is adding high school and college students to the mix. WEV just announced it is integrating the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation (SOE) into its organization. Every year SOE honors women entrepreneurs for the benefit of students. The SOE’s Spirit of Entrepreneurship™ Awards are designed to acknowledge the contributions of women entrepreneurs to the local economy in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, as well as to support future economic growth through the recognition and education of student entrepreneurs.
“All of us at WEV are moved and grateful to be entrusted with the legacy that has been established by the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation,” says WEV CEO Marsha Bailey. Bailey has known SOE’s founder, Cathy Feldman since the early 90’s. Feldman has been a lifelong advocate for empowering women and is now retiring. Since its first year in 2011, SOE has awarded more than $75,000 to students.
The student winners have created everything from apps to non-toxic beach tar remover and a unique line of salsas. The student entrepreneurs have won the New Venture Challenge, a one-day business pitch competition put on by the Scheinfeld Center of Entrepreneurship at Santa Barbara City College. They are awarded financial support (in the form of seed capital) and scholarships at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship™ Awards to help them to develop their aspiring businesses and continue their education. These Awards allow the Foundation to fulfill its goal of encouraging future economic growth in our region.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the number of young entrepreneurs has fallen drastically and is at an all-time low. Since the 1980s, business ownership among the under-30 population has declined by 65%. “It is critical that we increase our efforts to build and support a healthy pipeline of aspiring entrepreneurs who will imagine and create the next generation of businesses,” says Bailey.
The 2018 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards recognized women in 11 business categories, who were selected by independent judges residing outside the tri-county area. In addition, the SOE Foundation Board selected the recipient of the Rock Star: Life Achievement Award, which was presented to Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree this year. WEV will continue to host the SOE Awards dinner next year.
About Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV)
Women’s Economic Ventures is dedicated to creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women. WEV provides training, consulting and loans to help entrepreneurs start, grow and thrive in business. WEV serves all of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties from offices in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Santa Maria. While WEV targets its services toward women, it helps men as well, and provides many services in English and Spanish.
Since 1991, WEV has provided business training and consulting to over 14,000 women and men throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and made more than $4 million in loans, assisting over 4,000 local businesses. WEV is a U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Center, and a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).
A pioneer in the field, WEV was founded by Marsha Bailey, a nationally recognized advocate for women business owners. Marsha recently completed her tenures on the National Women’s Business Council and as board president of the national Association of Women’s Business Centers. For additional information, visit WEV’s website at www.wevonline.org.