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For more than three decades, WomenVenture has provided women of all ages, cultures, races and income levels with the tools and resources to achieve economic success through small business ownership.


WomenVenture helps women attain economic self-sufficiency through the creation and growth of profitable and sustainable businesses.


By 2020, 60% of clients who complete WomenVenture’s Pathways to Entrepreneurship program will be in business 5 years after launch and will pay themselves a living wage (120% of Area Median Income).


1977-78 – Judy Justad, Carol Truesdell and Marion Etzwiler establish CHART, a nonprofit organization supporting women entering or re-entering the workforce.

1982 – Kathy Keeley and Arvonne Fraser establish WEDCO (Women’s Economic Development Corporation), a nonprofit organization supporting women in starting their own businesses.

1989 – Making history as the first Twin Cities nonprofit merger, CHART and WEDCO become WomenVenture.

1992 – WomenVenture begins providing microloans to women to start or grow small businesses.

1995 – WomenVenture introduces its Annual Conference, now known as the Women Mean Business Luncheon & Marketplace.

2000 – The U.S. Small Business Administration designates WomenVenture one of the nation’s first Women’s Business Centers.

2001 – WomenVenture receives the Oprah Winfrey Angel Network "Use Your Life Award." 

2012 – WomenVenture announces its new Strategic Vision; narrows its focus to supporting women-owned businesses.

2013 – WomenVenture introduces Getting Ready class designed to help emerging entrepreneurs determine if small business ownership is right for them.

2014 – WomenVenture launches GUIDED Business Plan™, a 15-week series that covers all of the critical components of creating and fine-tuning a business plan.

2016 – WomenVenture deploys the WeLend initiative, a transformative microlending program to reach low-income entrepreneurs.