The Missouri Women’s Business Center continues to move forward.
AAccording to the United States Census Bureau, only about 33% of businesses are owned by women. Fortunately, thanks to organizations like the Missouri Women’s Business Center, these numbers are on the rise.
A program of Central Missouri Community Action, MoWBC is a nonprofit organization that empowers women to become business owners or helps those who already are.
âWe provide business development assistance to women who want to start or grow a business through free, one-on-one coaching and training,â says Jessie Yankee, director of MoWBC. âWe work with virtually anyone, from someone who just has an idea to someone who has been in business for 20 years and just needs help pivoting in this new world. A big part of what we do is simply being their advocate and being their accountability partner to help them maintain the goals they have set for themselves or with us. “
Jessie and the MoWBC team help their clients in multiple ways to support them along their journey. Money makes the world go round, however, and Jessie says one of the most important ways MoWBC supports its clients is to help secure capital.
âWe really help customers who would never be able to walk into a regular bank and walk in and say, ‘I need a loan.’ Most of the companies we work with don’t need a lot of capital. Like, maybe they just need $ 10,000 to buy some equipment or have a great website, things like that, âJessie says, explaining that many MoWBC clients need non-traditional capital. – no bank loans – to start a business. âNon-traditional capital can be like using a revolving credit fund or microloans. We are trustees of another nonprofit called KIVA which is a great product because it has 0% interest and they don’t base it on credit which is unheard of. We’re looking at all kinds of things like that and we’re really growing in this area. “
Jessie says the capital issue is a prime example of the types of barriers MoWBC clients may face. âThe real key to what we do is to try to remove all the barriers that prevent a woman from starting the business she wants to create, whether it is capital, hiring or whatever. something that could happen, âshe explains. “This is what we do.”
Each MoWBC coach, in addition to having previous experience, currently runs a business themselves.
âI think it’s really essential for what we do. We are not just people who have graduated. We have lived the entrepreneurial life and we face many of the same challenges as our clients, âsays Jessie. âWe also bring a huge amount of different experiences. We have a coach who has owned a restaurant for 15 years, and she looks after all of our gourmet clients – she’s amazing. I take care of real estate affairs. Another of our coaches has a lot of logistics and operations experience. It’s amazing, the team we have at the moment.
On the Mid-Missouri entrepreneurial scene, MoWBC has become a mainstay. âI would say we’ve been a really big catalyst for bringing other resources to town,â Jessie says. âFor example, we really work to make sure our customers are aware of things like [business] relief during the pandemic or things like that. We produce better prepared and more financially stable clients who start businesses in our community.
The program is funded by the Small Business Administration, which gives MoWBC a sense of stability that matches its mission. âThese programs, like MoWBC, exist because the federal government wants to help stimulate economic development. It’s good to see tax dollars going to something really positive for the community, âJessie says.
Currently, they are in the process of opening a new business development center that will focus on helping underserved communities. The new building will come with plenty of useful features, such as workspaces and a free resource closet, which Jessie says is especially important for new business owners on a tight budget.
If you want to lend a helping hand to MoWBC, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities.
âEveryone has something to offer because everyone who volunteers or teaches a class has unique experiences,â says Jessie. âVolunteering to teach one of our courses or be a guest speaker or mentor – we absolutely love having accountants and lawyers spending time with us. And, of course, we always need financial partners. At the end of the day, we are a non-profit organization and we need sponsors for our programs.
Last June, MoWBC celebrated five years of helping women start businesses. âBefore taking on this role, I ran my own business for seven years. The resources weren’t there in the same way that we offer at the Missouri Women’s Business Center, âJessie recalls. “The whole time I think about what it would have been like to have a MoWBC coach during that time.”
After experiencing first-hand the challenges of owning a small business, Jessie says the biggest impact MoWBC has had on the community is simple: âWomen who run businesses are no longer alone.
Missouri Women’s Business Center
500 E. Walnut St., Ste. 103
Missouri Women’s Business Center opens.
The MoWBC hosts the inaugural Women Who Own It Awards, where outstanding businesswomen are nominated and recognized for their hard work.
MoWBC launches the ASPIRE MO program, a 20-week entrepreneurship program for women in correctional facilities.
The MoWBC becomes a director of KIVA, thus creating more opportunities for much needed business capital.
MoWBC is growing and adding five new business coaches to its roster.
MoWBC is hosting its first Women’s Virtual Business Presentation Contest, where women pitch their business for a chance to win up to $ 5,000.
MoWBC celebrates its fifth anniversary.