WEV Receives Grant to Continue Support of Hispanic Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV)’s Receives Breaking Barriers Grant from the Foundation for California Community Colleges to Continue its Emprendimiento Program

Emprendimiento Program Graduates at an Awards Ceremony in Santa Maria in March 2024

Santa Barbara, CA—Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) is among a prestigious group of non-profits from around California recently selected to implement the “Breaking Barriers to Employment Initiative”. Breaking Barriers is a program of the Foundation for California Community Colleges in partnership with the California Workforce Development Board and the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. The program aims to support “historically underrepresented and economically overlooked populations such as veterans, refugees, formerly incarcerated individuals, women of color, and immigrants with pipelines to meaningful employment and quality jobs”. The programs selected promote the “economic success and increased social mobility of these populations while also addressing regional workforce needs and the social and economic inequality impacting California communities.” A full list of the Breaking Barriers 2.0 Awardees can be seen here.

WEV will use the Breaking Barriers funding to continue its Emprendimiento program which supports Spanish speaking entrepreneurs with training, 1:1 business coaching, and access to capital. On average, 65 percent of Emprendimiento program participants are women and 70 percent are low income. Businesses supported represent a variety of industries from retail trade to food, however, the industry most widely supported is childcare. These small home-based family childcare centers receive training on early childhood education, yet rarely receive training on sound business practices. Program graduate, Ashley Ortega, owner of Tiny Bear Paws Daycare in Lompoc shared that “being a business owner was a stressful path to navigate alone and the WEV program taught me so many different aspects of business ownership.” Another program participant, Wendy Karina Barboza Martinez, owner of Artesanias 805 used the grant money to grow her family artisan goods business. To date, over 400 people have participated in the program and $1.54 million dollars in stipends have been awarded. For Emprendimiento Program information, including enrollment for future cohorts, visit www.wevonline.org/classes-resources/emprendimiento/.

Wendy Karina Barboza Martinez owner of Artesanias 805 receiving her award in 2023

About Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV), www.wevonline.org

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 www.wevonline.org/support.