ECDI’s Women’s Business Center Opens

This week, we were thrilled to help celebrate the official launch party of the Women’s Business Center (WBC) of Northern Ohio at the Ariel International Center.

The WBC, which we helped fund last year, offers tools, resources and support to help women start and grow small businesses in our region.

The Need

While women-owned businesses outpace the national average in both job and revenue generation, women face specific barriers to entrepreneurship, including lack of available mentors, bias against women as entrepreneurs, lack of access to capital, and greater responsibilities toward unpaid caregiving.

The Women’s Business Center aims to create more opportunities, particularly for low income, minority, and immigrant and refugee women.

How We’re Involved

The Cleveland Foundation has long supported economic transformation across Greater Cleveland, including microlending and support for women and minority businesses in the core city of Cleveland.

The WBC is part of the Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI), a nonprofit that provides funding and education to small businesses, which we have supported since 2011 with over $1.6 million in grant funds. We’re proud to have played a significant role in making micro and small loans available to Clevelanders as part of our work to ensure that marginalized populations have better access to economic opportunity.

Since opening last October, more than 150 women have sought out the WBC for support in starting local businesses, including training, coaching and access to capital. The launch party this week featured a range of female entrepreneurs who shared their stories with the more than 100 attendees. The Cleveland Foundation’s Shilpa Kedar, program director for economic development, and Kristi Andrasik program officer, attended on behalf of the foundation.

What’s Next

Thanks to the WBC, Greater Clevelanders can expect an increase in female-driven entrepreneurs in our core city and beyond. More small businesses and more empowered, equipped female entrepreneurs will add to the vibrancy, culture and success of our community. We are proud to have helped women in our community pursue their passions.

Women of Note

If you are interested in connecting with female leaders across Greater Cleveland, consider attending the Women of Note Summit and Awards this May 25, where you can meet new people, share your experiences, and create bold ideas through interactive facilitation and dialogue. You can register here, and we hope to see you there.