WEV Self-Employment Training Graduates participate in the 2008 Women’s Conference
Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, CA, November XX, 2008 –As part of her endeavor to create a powerful, unified community of women helping women, California First Lady Maria Shriver, in partnership with The Women’s Conference, has recently launched WE Invest, a new statewide women’s economic empowerment initiative. Designed to promote financial security and unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of women across California, the WE Invest program is partnering with Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) and two other non-profit organizations in California to launch this initiative which will help women move forward together on a path toward personal and economic well being.
“We Invest will help all women have a seat at the economic table. Only when women and their families are financially secure, and their creativity, ideas and spirit unleashed, will California be able to achieve its full potential,” said Maria Shriver, California’s First Lady.
As part of the partnership between WE Invest and Women’s Economic Ventures, WEV was invited to participate in the 2008 Women’s Conference, the largest and most dynamic gathering of women in the nation. With more than 60 internationally acclaimed leaders and visionaries and 14,000 women in one arena, the Women’s Conference has grown from a small government initiative for working professionals into a far-reaching organization, a life-changing experience, and an international network of women from all walks of life, backgrounds and perspectives
“Maria Shriver is known for her efforts to increase awareness of the needs of women and families in our communities. Through her growing family of innovative WE programs, she is helping to bring resources to organizations in our state that can actively meet these needs,” said Judy Hawkins, Executive Director, Women’s Economic Ventures. “WEV is poised to partner with WE Invest as a trusted provider of business training and support services for women throughout the business lifecycle. WEV businesses boost the local economy, provide jobs and strengthen our entire community.”
Five WEV Self-Employment Training graduates with successful businesses of their own were invited to showcase their businesses at the 2008 Women’s Conference in Long Beach on October 22nd. Three of the WEV graduate businesswomen had the opportunity to talk about their businesses and products with well-known leaders like California’s First Lady, Maria Shriver, news journalist and social entrepreneur, Leeza Gibbons, celebrity chef Rachel Ray and actor Rita Wilson, as well as the thousands of women who attended the conference.
The WE Invest partnership will help link aspiring businesswomen with WEV’s Self-Employment Training Program, the comprehensive 14-week, 56-hour training program for women who are starting or growing their own business. WEV clients also have access to business counseling, facilitated peer groups, personal development, literacy training, mentoring and start-up and expansion microloans.
WEV is one of only three WE Invest statewide partners, which also include The Women’s Initiative in Oakland and Community Financial Resource Center in Watts. Each program represents WE Invest’s core values and program objectives: to help women overcome social and economic barriers to their journey out of poverty.
At 18 months after ‘graduation’, 63% of WEV Self-Employment Training (SET) graduates are in business and household incomes increase an average of 43%. Graduates who were already in business when they came to WEV see their sales increase an average of 163%. WEV clients generate an average of $69,297 in annual sales and one-third have accumulated $8,798 in average personal savings. There are now more than 1,000 businesses throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties owned and operated by graduates of WEV’s Self-Employment Training program or recipients of small business loans through WEV.
California has more female employers than any other state in the nation, and is home to a remarkable 869,000 woman-owned businesses. Yet more than 2.2 million California women and families live in poverty – a statistic Shriver considers unacceptable.
About Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV)
WEV is dedicated to creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women across the globe. Since 1991, WEV has been providing self-employment training, technical assistance and microloans to primarily low-income women. Today, WEV offers a continuum of programs for women at every stage of the business lifecycle to help startup, launch, grow, and sustain a business. Services include comprehensive self-employment training program, advanced training, business counseling, coaching, and networking opportunities. WEV’s service area has grown to include north and south Santa Barbara County and Ventura County with offices in Santa Barbara and Oxnard. WEV’s Small Business Loan Fund provides start-up and expansion loans to pre-bankable microenterprises. WEV was designated a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in 1999 by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In 2005, the Small Business Administration recognized WEV as the most productive Women’s Business Center in the nation. For more information please call 805-965-6073 or visit www.wevonline.org.