SAINT PAUL, Minn.—For more than 30 years, WomenVenture has been dedicated to the mission developed by its Founding Mothers, providing more than 100,000 women with tools and resources to achieve economic success.
Earlier this year, WomenVenture developed a Strategic Planning Committee of current and past board members, as well as outside advisors, to create a strategic vision for the organization. The committee was charged with evaluating the significant and on-going changes in the external environment, and what the impact could be on the future of WomenVenture.
The goal was to develop a plan that would assure the organization’s relevance and sustainability for many years to come. The Board of Directors approved the recommendation of the Strategic Planning Committee at the end of May.
Beginning July 1, 2012, WomenVenture will narrow its focus, supporting women-owned businesses by providing microloans, working capital, education and on-going consultation through all stages of business. WomenVenture will strive to be the face and voice of women entrepreneurs, and a resource for the community. In the course of this work, WomenVenture will remain true to its organizational roots, leading a movement to support women in creating financial independence and jobs in their community. Within five years, WomenVenture hopes to be a national model for supporting and growing women entrepreneurs.
WomenVenture has long been dedicated to serving women business-owners. In 2011, the organization helped start, expand or strengthen 113 local businesses through entrepreneurial development classes and services. Those businesses created 74 jobs, an estimated $1.6 million in new salaried income, and generated more than $60,000 in individual income tax. Through its microloan program, WomenVenture loaned $277,000 to 14 business development clients, with a low default rate of four percent.
The strategic vision announcement comes on the heels of a recent national study that suggests it is more challenging for women in the Twin Cities to launch their own business than many areas of the country. According to the report from American Express OPEN, while women-owned businesses continue to grow nationwide, Minnesota ranks near the bottom. “We are confident that this more focused vision will allow WomenVenture to make an even greater impact on economic development in Minnesota,” said Colleen Willhite, WomenVenture Acting President. Willhite also believes that this new approach enables WomenVenture to focus on its unique core competencies, creating a healthier and more viable organization.
As a result of its focused efforts on women’s enterprise, WomenVenture will no longer provide career building programs. These programs are currently offered at low or no cost by other groups and agencies.
Inquiries about career building will be referred to the agencies that best meet their needs through WomenVenture’s comprehensive online database of career resources, including information about non-traditional careers. www.WomenVenture.org/resources