Non-profit Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) announced its Quick Response Loan program on March 18 to provide emergency financial support and assistance to Santa Barbara and Ventura County businesses experiencing economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. By April 17, WEV received 118 loan applications for $1,134,850 in funding requests. To date, 45 loans for $362,500 have been approved and 36 local small businesses have received $297,500 from WEV. WEV is working diligently with applicants to review and process the loan applications received in the last few weeks. New applications continue to flow in daily. WEV’s COVID-19 Quick Response Loans and business resources are available at www.wevonline.org.
Local businesswoman Alison Katnic has a close connection to community. Her family founded Jeannine’s Restaurant and Bakery in 1987. The beloved establishment now has four locations in Santa Barbara County and was recognized by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) as Senate District 19’s Small Business of the Year in 2019. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the area and businesses closed, Katnic contacted WEV’s Loan team on behalf of her business, Alison’s Bakery. Once Katnic submitted her completed WEV loan application, she received funding within days. Katnic told WEV, “Your help is invaluable. Receiving support from a local institution provides double the benefit. Not only does it assist with operations, but it also feels like a vote of confidence from our community. That kind of moral support is invaluable, and motivates us to bear through these challenging times.”
WEV is able to provide this immediate financial assistance thanks, in part, to funding partners who understand the significance of the local business community. The Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) and the Santa Barbara Better Together Fund, a field of interest fund of the Santa Barbara Foundation, each granted $125,000 to support county-specific businesses through WEV’s Quick Response Loan fund.
“We are extremely grateful to the entire leadership team at Women’s Economic Ventures for their immediate support of women-owned businesses during this very challenging and unprecedented time. Their ability to get funding directly and rapidly to these small business owners makes all the difference in their sustainability, their families economic security, and our community’s overall economic resiliency,” says Vanessa Bechtel, president and CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation. “In times like this, we all need to stick together and WEV, like always, is there in service to help build a strong and connected community.”
Dave Powers, President & CEO, Deckers Brands and Chairman for the Santa Barbara Better Together Fund said, “While all sectors of our community will need incredible support, the area that is increasingly in need are the small businesses. They are the lifeblood of our community, providing services and jobs for tens of thousands of people. Without our support, the fallout will be devastating to our community, particularly for the small businesses and everyone they employ. To that end, we have initiated our first grant to WEV. We want to inspire matching funds, and as these loans are repaid by local businesses, WEV can apply those funds towards new loans in SB County.”
As this pandemic continues, WEV expects to receive continued loan applications. Efforts are underway to raise additional funds to support the Quick Response Loan program and help to sustain our local small business community. Prospective funders are encouraged to contact WEV.
Women’s Economic Ventures is dedicated to creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women. WEV is a business resource network for anyone looking to start a business, grow a local business, or improve their business skills. WEV provides small business training, advisory services, financial literacy programs and small business loans in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. While WEV’s focus is on women, it welcomes people of all gender identities into the WEV community. Business courses, programs and loans are provided in both English and Spanish.
Since 1991, WEV has provided business training and small business advisory services to more than 28,000 people throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. WEV has made more than $6.9 million in small business loans and helped nearly 5,300 local businesses start or expand, generating an estimated $873 million in annual sales and creating over 12,400 local jobs. WEV is a U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Center and Microlender, as well as a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).