June 18, 2018
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 has 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 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,” said WEV CEO and founder Marsha Bailey, an advocate for women business owners.
Bailey has known SOE’s founder Cathy Feldman since the early 1990s. 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.
The 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 percent.
“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,” Bailey said.
The 2018 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards recognized women in 11 business categories, who were selected by independent judges living outside the tri-county area.
The SOE Foundation Board also selected the recipient of the Rock Star: Life Achievement Award, presented to Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree this year. WEV will continue to host the SOE Awards dinner next year.
Women’s Economic Ventures is dedicated to creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women.
Serving Santa Barbara and Ventura counties from offices in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Santa Maria, WEV provides training, consulting and loans to help entrepreneurs start, grow and thrive in business.
Since 1991, WEV has provided business training and consulting to 14,000 women and men, and made more than $4 million in loans, assisting 4,000 local businesses.