Thank you for making the 2022 Women Mean Business Marketplace & Awards Gala a success!

Thanks to your generosity, we filled the room with more than 500 guests, hosted 30 women entrepreneurs in our marketplace, and presented two awards to outstanding entrepreneurs whose businesses have been resilient, expansive, and socially conscious. The proceeds from this event empower women to achieve their economic goals by building profitable and sustainable businesses that transform communities. 

Save the Date: September 30, 2023!

Keynote Speaker, Dara Beevas

WomenVenture's keynote speaker was Dara Beevas. Dara’s work is centered around her belief that books can save lives, open doors, and build bridges. As co-founder and CEO of the publishing company Wise Ink, she seeks authors whose missions are to share powerful stories that ignite change, tolerance, and growth. 

Dara is the author of Amina of Zaria: The Warrior Queen,  the first in a series of children’s picture books based on the actual lives of black queens in history. She’s been featured in such publications as the NY Daily News, The Washington Post, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, MPR, and The Guardian.

Dara has been invited to speak around the country about writing, blogging, book publishing, and entrepreneurship. She’s a graduate of the Yale Publishing Course and a recipient of a Bush Foundation Fellowship, Woman in Business Award, Emerging Leader Award, and Emerging Writer Fellowship granted through the Given’s Foundation. Dara splits her time running one of the leading hybrid publishing companies in the U.S. and working on her personal writing projects. 

Hear more from Dara and her journey with WomenVenture.

Expanding Business Award, Esther Obaigwa

Esther Obaigwa, CEO of Kare Healthcare Staffing emigrated to the US from Kenya in 2009 and struggled to find her professional calling. After several years of working as a nursing assistant, the single parent of three saw the need for flexible schedules while providing quality care to her patients. Esther opened Kare Healthcare and currently provides staff to hospitals and clinics across Minnesota using this worker-centered model. In 2022, Esther grew to employ 25 healthcare professionals and will be expanding her business across the US, and beyond.  

Learn more about Esther's journey through entrepreneurship. 

Social Entreprenuer Award, Rachel Handren

Rachel Handren, owner, and director of 360 Dance Center began performing and choreographing dance routines while still in high school, spurring her love of instructing and supporting students. Rachel opened 360 Dance Center in 2020 after witnessing the struggles her young students had trying to find their place in the world. 360 Dance Center is a safe space for dancers of all ages to come together and learn, share, and celebrate each other. Rachel provides nutritional counseling, physical fitness training, and emotional support for all her students, making 360 much more than a dance center. 

Hear more from Rachel and the mission of 360 Dance Center.


Our sponsors allow WomenVenture to continue to support women entrepreneurs by providing education and resources through our training and loan programs including:

  • Scholarships for low-income training clients, materials for classes, mentor and volunteer training, and curriculum development.
  • Pre-loan and post-loan coaching including underwriting time, materials, and closing costs.
  • Community support and mentorship opportunities to help women start or grow their businesses.

WomenVenture is grateful for the support of our Women Mean Business event sponsors and government partners. 

2023 Sponsorship Opportunities

Presenting Sponsor

Gold Sponsors

Marketplace & Dessert Sponsor

Silver Sponsors

Marketplace Sponsor

Reception Sponsor

Bronze Sponsors

Copper Sponsors

Entertainment Sponsor

Event Partners

Government Partners