MINNEAPOLIS, MN: Karina Elze opened Academia Elze Spanish Immersion Early Learning Center at Plymouth Church just 18 months before the pandemic hit. A wildly successful center, it had to find a way to keep going when enrollment plummeted. With creativity, ingenuity, resilience and the help of WomenVenture’s business consultants and volunteers, Karina’s business is back and stronger than ever. The center is bustling once again, and she and her teachers are teaching 60 small children the joy of being bilingual.
Karina will be one of three WomenVenture client founders to be honored on Friday, Nov. 12 during WomenVenture’s 26th Annual Women Mean Business event. She will receive the Resilience Award, introduced last year to recognize an entrepreneur whose business has been substantially affected by the COVID-19 global health crisis, who has risen to meet new challenges and is thriving as a result of their resilience, tenacity, and determination to succeed.
Women business owners had to display an enormous amount of resilience to stay open during the past 18 months. Social Enterprise Award Winner, Anna Tsantir, owner of Two Bettys Green Cleaning Service is another example. Anna is no stranger to adapting to changing times: during the pandemic she started selling green cleaning products for clients whose houses they could no longer clean. Two Bettys is living proof that you can pay people well, use cleaning products that don’t harm the planet and still make a good profit.
Kyle Oglesby, owner of Daddy Sam’s BBQ Sawces and winner of the Expanding Business award, has also had to be resilient as she found her supply chain for glass jars disrupted during the pandemic. In order to decrease her reliance on glass jars, she expanded and pivoted to develop a range of rubs. Her sauces are in more than 500 stores across the country, and she continues to expand.
“We are delighted to honor and celebrate the tireless efforts of women business owners. Recognizing the success of Karina, Anna and Kyle, brings together a community that continues to support women through unprecedented times,” says LeeAnn Rasachak, WomenVenture CEO. “It is time we take pause to celebrate these entrepreneurs for their leadership, grit and impact on our communities.”
The 26th Annual Women Mean Business (WMB) Fundraiser will be held Friday, Nov. 12 from 11am-3pm. The event will celebrate them and many other women entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities and beyond. It will take place both in-person and virtually, and features host and comedian Miss Shannan Paul, a marketplace of women-owned businesses, a raffle and much more.
WomenVenture has been dedicated to its mission of helping women build economic stability for themselves and their families since 1978 and has provided more than 110,000 women with tools and resources to achieve economic success. In FY 20/21, WomenVenture served nearly 3,000 clients; helping start, expand or strengthen many small businesses in the Twin Cities through its business training classes, small business loans, COVID relief funding and business consulting services. During the past 18 months, WomenVenture has worked with state and county officials to disburse more than $10 million in COVID relief funding to over 2,000 businesses.