The investment will support the growth of WomenVenture’s loan portfolio.
Minneapolis, MN – WomenVenture, a non-profit economic development agency that provides business training and access to loan capital for women entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities, today announced a $1 million program-related investment from the Otto Bremer Trust. The purpose of the investment is to address a funding gap for female small business owners.
“Across the nation, 40% of businesses are owned by women, yet women only receive 4% of small business bank loans,” said Elaine Wyatt, WomenVenture’s CEO. “Otto Bremer Trust’s investment will support the growth of our loan portfolio, allowing us to give business loans to low-income women and women of color, who have the highest need for capital and the fewest resources available to them.”
The number of women-owned businesses is growing—across the country and in Minnesota. Nationally women-owned firms are up 58% from 2007 to 2018, and firms owned by women of color grew at nearly three times that rate (163%).
Minnesota is particularly vibrant for women-owned businesses. The state ranked number one in the country for the economic vitality for women-owned businesses, according to the 2018 State of Women-owned Businesses report commissioned by American Express. Supporting and growing women-owned businesses is key to a stronger and healthier economy overall, job creation in local communities and upward economic mobility for low income women and women of color and their families.
“Investing in women business owners and entrepreneurs provides economic development opportunities and contributes to creating healthy and vibrant communities. WomenVenture has been a leader nationally in empowering women to create their own economic success: developing loan products, training programs and business support services tailored to meet the needs of this expanding community of small business owners,” said Daniel C. Reardon, co-CEO and Trustee, Otto Bremer Trust.
WomenVenture will use Otto Bremer Trust’s $1 million investment to provide small business loans for women entrepreneurs who may not have access to traditional lending.
 2018 State of Women-owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express
WomenVenture has been dedicated to its mission of helping women build profitable and sustainable businesses since 1978. It has provided more than 104,000 women with tools and resources to achieve economic success. In FY 2017/18, WomenVenture served 1,066 women; helped start, expand or strengthen 206 small businesses in the Twin Cities through its business training classes, small business loans and business consulting services. Those businesses supported 916 jobs, paying an average wage of $20 per hour.
About the Otto Bremer Trust
The Otto Bremer Trust, based in St. Paul, Minn., is a private charitable trust established in 1944 by founder Otto Bremer, a successful banker and community business leader. OBT owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank and also manages a diversified investment portfolio. The mission of OBT is to invest in people, places, and opportunities in the Upper Midwest. Since its inception, OBT has invested more than $700 million in organizations throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, and western Wisconsin. Visit ottobremer.org.