Spotlight #EncoreCLE: Women Over 50 Dominate the Small Business World!

Launched in 2013 by the Cleveland Foundation, Encore Cleveland helps connect and fund a network of organizations to provide experienced Greater Clevelanders an array of meaningful opportunities upon retirement or near the end of their primary careers. In our “Spotlight Encore Cleveland” guest blog series, we go behind-the-scenes to explore the many programs available through Encore Cleveland. Learn about the Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI) and Women’s Business Center of Northern Ohio (WBC)’s Encore Entrepreneur program in this guest blog:  

Did you know that women over the age of 50 are one of the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs? At the Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI) and Women’s Business Center of Northern Ohio (WBC) we see these bold women on a daily basis, blazing new career paths for themselves while supporting each other in the process.

Our Encore Entrepreneur Initiative (EEI), launched this past fall in partnership with the Cleveland Foundation, provides tools and resources for women over 50 as they start and/or expand their small business ventures.

“We are excited to support Encore women in their entrepreneurial journey. We are grateful to the Cleveland Foundation for their support of this initiative to create economic self-sufficiency through the growth of strong and sustainable businesses,” says Carrie Rosenfelt, Executive Director, ECDI.

Program timeline for Encore Entrepreneur InitiativeWhat is EEI?

EEI is an 8-week program consisting of workshops for female entrepreneurs with no formal business training. Each cohort accepts up to 15 participants, who go through financial literacy training, learn innovative ways to market their business, and take our Small Enterprise Education Development series, designed to build and refine business plans. Participants are supported during the program and become members of the WBC with access to our services both during and after the program.

On November 7, we celebrated the graduation of our first cohort of Encore entrepreneurs!

Tessa Schmidt is the Founder and CEO of Your Adventure Awaits! Tessa offers guided wilderness adventures that help women to discover themselves anew, taking time to breathe, nurture, and reground themselves.

“The Encore Entrepreneur Program offered in Cleveland through the ECDI and the Women’s Business Center provided education, support, knowledge and a network of like-minded women that is helping me to confidently launch my business. No matter what point you are on the entrepreneur journey, from vague business idea to expansion of your business, this program meets you where your needs begin.”

How can I get involved?

We are excited to announce the second cohort launching in January 2018! Applications are due December 18!

Interested applicants can reach out to Nicole Liatos, EEI program manager at or APPLY HERE!

About ECDI

The Economic & Community Development Institute is a Columbus, Ohio-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit economic development organization founded in 2004. As the third largest US SBA intermediary micro-lender and a U.S. Treasury designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), ECDI’s mission is to invest in people to create measurable and enduring social and economic change. Since 2004, ECDI has assisted over 10,800 individuals, disbursed over $40 million through over 1,900 loans, and created and retained over 7,100 jobs via our comprehensive suite of programs available through our offices in Columbus, Cleveland, and Akron, Ohio. Our programs and services have been supported by over $69 million in federal, state, local and private funds, and have proven to spur local economic development. How do we do this? We invest, educate, and innovate with the businesses and people who are inspired and who inspire us.

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