Santa Barbara and Ventura, CA – Non-profit Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) recognizes the significant support from funders who invest in small businesses and the economic impact for our local community. Since the COVID-19 pandemic reached our area, newly launched and well-established small businesses have struggled to survive, and hundreds have turned to WEV for solutions. WEV has been able to provide expanded business training and resources thanks to recent funding from CIT, the Ventura County Community Foundation, the Wells Fargo Foundation and in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Center Program. Learn more about resources for small businesses, www.wevonline.org.
WEV’s expanded COVID-19 business training and resources include our free “WEV Works” webinar series in both English and Spanish that focuses on timely topics for small business owners such as economic support, legal issues, financials, brand strengthening, PPP questions, online presence and e-commerce. Since March 25, more than 750 business owners have participated in these webinars. WEV is also launching new strategic initiatives which include an online business plan training program, a pilot with LinkedIn Learning, and a cloud-based platform for Business Advisors and entrepreneurs as they work together to start and grow businesses.
At no charge to small business owners, WEV increased access for them to quickly connect with expert Business Advisors. Santa Barbara business owner Daryl Abrams established Velo Pro Cyclery more than 30 years ago, has two locations and more than 15 full-time employees. When COVID-19 hit, Abrams adjusted business hours, operations and staffing for the safety of his employees and customers.
“I applied for EIDL and PPP loans but was striking out everywhere,” he said. Then his insurance agent suggested Abrams contact WEV and the SBDC. Abrams explained that “I contacted WEV that evening and heard back the next morning from their Business Recovery Advisor David Machacek. He talked me through business hurdles that I wasn’t aware of yet, and helped me look at long-term solutions. My business is almost double this May compared to 2019.” Through a partnership with a regional bank, WEV also referred Abrams for a PPP loan and “within a week, I had the loan,” he added, “with WEV, help came immediately.”
Thanks to recent funding support, WEV is also adding staff capacity to provide financial literacy training for clients, increasing Spanish marketing efforts and offering specialty Business Advisors who can assist businesses in pivoting and adapting as they reopen.
“CIT is committed to empowering women to build strong and thriving small businesses,” said Steve Solk, president of Consumer Banking for CIT. “Through our partnership with WEV, we’ve supported the critical education training and resources needed to help hundreds of local entrepreneurs navigate these unprecedented times.”
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).