History

Since 1977, WomenVenture has been dedicated to helping women in the Twin Cities achieve economic success.

1977-78

Judy Justad, Carol Truesdell and Marion Etzwiler establish CHART, a nonprofit organization supporting women entering or re-entering the workforce. The goals of CHART were to assist women in building a positive and accurate self-concept, identifying and pursuing satisfying life and work goals to help them become self-sufficient, building workplace skills and behavior, and preparing them to take responsibility for their own workplace satisfaction and career development.

1982

Kathy Keeley and Arvonne Fraser establish WEDCO (Women’s Economic Development Corporation), a nonprofit organization supporting women in starting their own businesses. The goals of WEDCO were to increase the economic self-sufficiency of women through self-employment, improve women's access to capital, and to act as a catalyst in connecting women to emerging business opportunities.

1989

Making history as the first Twin Cities nonprofit merger, CHART and WEDCO become WomenVenture. The two distinguished organizations joined forces to offer a full spectrum of services related to career and business development for an increasingly diverse population of clients that included teens, technology-driven businesses, women in non-traditional construction trades, and more.

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 Small Business Essentials, 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.

2017-18

WomenVenture celebrates 40 years of helping women in the Twin Cities succeed.