Women Venture, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit, provides resources for women of all ages, cultures, races, and income levels to help them achieve economic success by way of small business ownership. In a society that often does not give women the same opportunities as men, this organization’s work is crucial. Furthermore, it prides itself on being intersectional and supporting every woman that is willing to work to better her own future.
For more than 30 years, Women Venture has been hosting entrepreneurship info sessions and classes, giving loans and scholarships, and providing access to additional tools for the women it works with. The results have been life-changing.
Women Venture’s vision is that by 2020, 6 percent of the clients who complete WomenVenture Pathways to Entrepreneurship program will have been in business 5 years after launch and will be earning a living wage. That amounts to 12 percent of Area Median Income.
The story of this successful nonprofit began in 1977 when Judy Justad, Carol Truesdell, and Marion Etzwiler established CHART, a nonprofit organization supporting women entering or re-entering the workforce. From there, once they had expanded and received recognition, Women’s Venture was born. The trio has started an annual conference called Women Mean Business Luncheon & Marketplace and received the Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network “Use Your Life Award” in 2001.
Women Venture’s remarkable work has allowed many women the opportunity to become self-sufficient. With the nonprofit’s help, its clients have started countless up-and-coming, diverse businesses. These women have started retail businesses, education services, environmental work, and even yoga studios.
According to The Atlantic, about 29 percent of America’s business owners are women. That is up from the 26 percent in 1997, and the number of women-owned firms has grown 68 percent since 2007. For minority women, the progress has been even better. It has grown exponentially – 265 percent to be exact since 1997 – meaning that now, one out of three women business owners is a minority woman.
This trend is not a coincidence; it is the result of a changing society and the dedicated work of organizations like Women Venture. 29 percent is nowhere near equality, but with the continuation of the good work being done by like-minded nonprofits, we may just get there.
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