Inspiring Women Business Owners and Community Partners Honored at Empowerment is Priceless Event

Hosted by Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV), the event raised funds to help sustain and support entrepreneurship in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.


Ventura and Santa Barbara, CA—Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) hosted its annual Empowerment is Priceless fundraiser at Camarillo Ranch on Wednesday, October 18. The event recognizes outstanding women in business as well as community partners who advocate for economic empowerment in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. WEV is a non-profit that provides a full range of small business support – including classes, consulting, and funding – as well as financial literacy programs in both English and Spanish. Information at .


This year’s awardees demonstrate determination, leadership, and the power of community. WEV awarded Client of the Year to Blanca Hoffmeier, President of SWPPP CAL Stormwater Management, the Trailblazer Award to Vanessa Bechtel, President & CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation, and Community Partner of the Year to the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce.

2023 EIP honorees

Pictured left to right: Client of the Year Blanca Hoffmeier of SWPPP CAL Stormwater Management,
Trailblazer Award honoree Vanessa Bechtel of VCCF, and Community Partner of the Year, the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce. (Photo credit: Trinity Wheeler Photography)


Client of the Year honoree Blanca Hoffmeier spoke to the crowd of 250 attendees and shared her inspirational story. In 2017, Hoffmeier started her stormwater management business in Thousand Oaks. “I started SWPPP CAL because I care about the world I live in and found a way to make that my profession. I’m proud to say that my story is a testament to the power of mentorship, determination, and a firm belief in the potential of women.”  As a woman-business owner working in the male-dominated industry of engineering and construction, Blanca is also among the few certified drone pilots nationally who are women – only 8% in the U.S. “I have an engineering degree, but never studied business. And English is my second language. WEV has meant the world to me as a Latina. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to WEV for leveling up my business. By extension, my life, and my family,” explained Hoffmeier.


WEV CEO Kathy Odell shared “We are seeing an unprecedented surge in entrepreneurship across the United States and women entrepreneurs are driving the surge. In 2019, women comprised just 29% of new business applications. Since 2021, they’ve represented over 49% of all new businesses. Clients come to us often with limited business resources or training, but with boundless aspirations, unwavering commitment, passion, and determination. At WEV, our mission is to ensure their success.”


Lure Digital produced WEV’s Empowerment is Priceless video, which shares the stories of local business owners as well as the economic perspective from Ventura County CEO Dr. Sevet Johnson. Ky Schultz and Bria Little of Lure Digital, said, “We are honored to produce the Empowerment is Priceless video, featuring stories about WEV’s unique ability to cultivate the power within each individual to realize their entrepreneurial dreams.”


Proceeds raised at the Empowerment is Priceless event will directly benefit WEV’s business funding and client programs, including financial literacy and education classes, business training courses, individual coaching, and business advisory services – all provided in both English and Spanish.


The event is underwritten by the generosity of sponsors including Bank of America, Banks Coaching, LinkedIn, Lure Digital, Cox Communications, Martin V Smith School of Business & Economics at CSU CI, Nicholson & Schwartz, The Acorn Project, and Ventura County Credit Union.


About Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV),
Women’s Economic Ventures is dedicated to 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 a full range of small business support – including classes, consulting, and funding – as well as financial literacy programs 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).


To support WEV’s work, please visit