Women entrepreneurs face unique challenges in starting a business, from a lack of funding to difficulties in finding mentors and partners. Women’s Business Centers aim to help women small business owners overcome these challenges and create thriving businesses by providing education and resources.
What exactly is a Women’s Business Development Center?
A Woman’s Small Business Center is a local office that is part of a national network of business development facilities overseen by the US Small Business Administration. Services may vary by location, but they generally provide resources for women-owned small businesses such as training, coaching, access to finance, and help in applying for government contracts.
What to expect in a women’s business center
Women’s Business Centers offer a variety of services that vary by location and can often be customized to meet member needs. Here are some of the most popular.
Women’s Business Centers provide education and resources to help new entrepreneurs start or grow. There are self-paced courses, guides and events tailored to different industries, challenges and stages of running a business. This allows you to choose the resources that best suit your needs. For example, a center can host an online workshop on how to start a business in 10 steps. Another may contain instructions on how to apply for SBA loans.
Business centers for women often host events and connect members with other entrepreneurs or professionals in their industries. This can help you build strong partnerships, supplier relationships, or even find mentors or mentees.
Many businesses can benefit from more personal support. Business centers for women often have consultants, service providers or subject matter experts who will answer questions and personally guide you through various challenges.
The SBA offers several loan programs to finance small businesses, particularly women-owned businesses and others who have traditionally not had access to finance. Counselors at your local women’s business center can guide you through the options and the application process.
business plan development
For those just starting out, the SBA’s DreamBuilder program offers a beginner’s curriculum. At the end of the program you will develop your own business plan that can guide your future decisions.
Access to Government Contracts
Government contracts can be lucrative for small businesses. Certain programs have earmarked funds for small businesses run by women or others that have traditionally been underrepresented. Centers often offer assistance in obtaining certification for women-owned businesses to help your business apply for these opportunities.
Small Business Management Women’s Business Center
That SBA Business Center for women is a national network of offices that provides resources and support for women entrepreneurs in the community. They also advocate for women entrepreneurs and provide access to funding and government contract programs to level the playing field for women.
Top Women’s Business Centers in the USA
There are business development centers for women across the country. Each serves different regional or industrial markets with different resources. Here are some top centers to consider.
BOC Women’s Business Center, New York
That BOC WBC is a business center for women with offices in Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx. The center provides training, funding assistance, counseling and growth opportunities with a focus on women from underserved markets.
Women’s Economic Ventures, California
Economic ventures of women serves minority women and entrepreneurs in Southern California. Based in Santa Barbara, the office hosts events, advises clients, and provides various financial services to those interested in a loan or grant.
Women BiZ Inc., Texas
Women BiZ Inc. serves women entrepreneurs in Austin and Central Texas. The center offers business training, workshops and individual consulting services. The center works with both new and established small businesses in the region.
Florida Women’s Business Center, Florida
The Delray Beach based Business center for women in Florida offers free individual business advice to women entrepreneurs who are just starting out or want to grow. The center also provides operational support, market research, funding assistance and a variety of other resources. They also host about 90 in-person and virtual workshops each year.
Business Development Center for Women, Illinois
Based in Chicago, the Business Development Center for Women provides advice, mentoring and support for local women-owned businesses. The team even offers support for those seeking funding or certification for federal contracting opportunities. There are also programs for specific industries, like an upcoming initiative to support burgeoning childcare businesses.
Business trails at the Mi Casa Resource Center, Colorado
business paths is a program of the Mi Casa Resource Center, which is home to Colorado’s only business center for women. The team provides consulting, licensing and permitting assistance, and marketing and sales support. They also host a variety of events throughout the year to help members stay connected and access educational resources.
Business Center for Women in Charlotte, North Carolina
That Business center for women of Charlotte supports small business owners across North Carolina. Programs include one-on-one counseling, webinars, business plan reviews, certifications, financial reporting assistance, and networking opportunities.
MBDA Entrepreneurial Women of Color Business Program
Operation Hope is a non-profit organization that operates the MBDA (Minority Business Development Agency). Enterprising women of color business program. The program includes a two-hour workshop, an eight-week training program, one-on-one coaching, and access to subject matter experts to increase knowledge or gain access to specific areas. The program is available to women entrepreneurs of color in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas and Oakland.
Find your nearest business center for women
The Small Business Administration offers online search tool to help female entrepreneurs find their local business center for women. Simply enter your zip code in the search bar to get a list of centers nearby. Then follow the link to the website of your chosen organization.
How many Women’s Business Centers are there?
136 Women’s Business Centers are currently part of the SBA’s national network. The number could change in the future if more centers join the SBA’s cooperation agreement; 20 centers just opened in 2021.