On May 1, 2015, WomenVenture began accepting applications for Scale Up! Twin Cities, a new program funded by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The program provides critical resources to women who are ready to grow their businesses—particularly those owned by women of color and those in traditionally male-dominated fields—at no charge to them.
According to The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express OPEN, “Women-owned firms now account for 30% of all enterprises, and are growing faster in number and employment than most other firms. Despite this fact, women-owned firms employ only 6% of the country’s workforce and contribute just under 4% of business revenues—roughly the same they contributed in 1997.”
WomenVenture’s Scale Up! Twin Cities seeks to change that.
“Although the number of businesses started by women in the United States continues to grow, the market share of women-owned businesses has not changed for nearly 20 years,” said Elaine Wyatt, executive director of WomenVenture. “A primary reason for the disparities between male and female business owners is the lack of support to take their operations to the next level. We created Scale Up! Twin Cities to provide female entrepreneurs with resources and support to drive their business growth.”
Scale Up! Twin Cities also marks an exciting expansion of services for WomenVenture, which typically serves start-up women-owned businesses. “With Scale Up! Twin Cities, WomenVenture is helping the businesses we serve move into the big leagues,” continued Elaine. “We’ll be providing resources and support to mid-sized women-owned businesses that have an established track record and are looking to take their enterprise to the next level.”
About Scale Up! Twin Cities
Scale Up! Twin Cities is a result of the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) that was signed into law on Mother’s Day 2014 and is implemented by DEED. WomenVenture is one of two DEED grant recipients charged with accelerating the growth of women-owned businesses, and thus it created the new Scale Up! Twin Cities specifically to meet the needs of women business owners in Minnesota.
Scale Up! Twin Cities is designed to serve serious female entrepreneurs—particularly women of color and women in traditionally male-dominated fields such as high tech, manufacturing, construction, legal and accounting—as well as businesses with the ability to create high-paying wages that average $23+ per hour.
Businesses that are selected for Scale Up! Twin Cities will receive an array of resources (valued at $8,000) to help them accelerate their business growth. This includes the following, all at no cost to them:
- Trainings, including Kauffman FastTrac Growth Venture, a 30-hour course that helps business owners evaluate and implement strategies to improve their business performance.
- Financial management tools, such as Profit Mastery, which teaches business owners to understand and monitor their balance sheets, identify causes of financial distress and ways to cure them, and increase profitability.
- Personalized one-on-one coaching sessions with experienced business consultants.
- Access to financing for business expansion.
Women business owners are encouraged to apply online for either the first session (September 14, 2015-April 4, 2016) or the second session (March 2-September 28, 2016.) Up to 20 applicants (10 per session) will be accepted, and they must meet the following criteria:
- 51% of the business is woman-owned.
- 3+ years in business.
- Business has experienced steady, incremental growth each year since launch, with current annual revenues of $250K+.
- Business must be ready for exponential growth, including a 15% increase in revenue and a 70% increase in workforce in the two years following the program.
- Business must be able to make a significant investment of time to take the enterprise to the next level (25 sessions over 31 weeks).
WomenVenture is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit dedicated to helping women attain economic self-sufficiency through the creation and growth of profitable and sustainable businesses. Over the past three decades, the organization has provided more than 100,000 women of all ages, cultures, races and income levels with the tools and resources to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
In 2014, WomenVenture served 594 clients and helped start, expand or strengthen 259 businesses; these are the entrepreneurs that are fueling Minnesota’s economy. They help communities grow by paying taxes and by supporting other local businesses, and they create jobs that pay living wages. Last year alone, WomenVenture client business owners created 489 new jobs and retained 455 jobs; their employees earned a median wage of $23 per hour and they generated $14.6 million in new salaried income.