The YWCA Lower Cape Fear on Monday announced the unveiling of a new business development initiative, Coastal Women’s Ventures.
The program was created as a partnership between the YWCA and Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF), according to a news release from the YWCA.
Coastal Women’s Ventures is a collaborative program focused on creating and supporting small business opportunities for women entrepreneurs through business coaching, mentoring, small business education and connecting participants to loan capital, officials with the YWCA said in the release.
A ribbon cutting for the new center, located inside the YWCA Lower Cape Fear at 2815 S. College Road, will take place at noon Thursday, said Lauren McConville, communications manager for the YWCA.
The new center provides an opportunity for the YWCA “to help women get their footing and launch businesses that they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to do,” McConville said Monday.
McConville said the new program would serve individuals in the region, including in New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick and Columbus counties.
This is the first time the CSBDF has partnered with a nonprofit organization in the state and the first of its programs in southeastern North Carolina, McConville said. In the past, she said, the CSBDF has traditionally launched similar programs with universities and colleges in the state.
CSBDF is a statewide nonprofit and certified Community Development Financial Institution that fosters economic development in underserved communities by providing small business loans and financial training to startup and existing businesses, according to the release. Similar initiatives have been launched by the CSBDF across the state.
"We as a pilot initiative, we're investing close to $60,000 [in southeastern North Carolina]. This will not include the capital that will be available for lending. We're hoping that over the next six months to a year, to deploy $1 million-$2 million in capital for women entrepreneurship in the area," Lenwood Long, CSBDF's president and CEO, said Monday.
Coastal Women’s Ventures will operate at the YWCA Lower Cape Fear with oversight from Long and Charrise Hart, executive director of the YWCA Lower Cape Fear.
“We are actually quite excited for this opportunity in the area,” Long said. “It’s something new for the area, and I think it will increase business services, technical assistance, coaching and capital for women in entrepreneurship that the YWCA serves.”
Acquinetta Beatty, director of Carolina Small Business Development Funds' Southeastern Coastal Women’s Venture Center, said the CSBDF loans offered through the program can run from $500 to $250,000.
Beatty began her new role with the organization on Oct. 2 and will remain at the YWCA to help with the new program along with three other people from the CSBDF, who will serve the region but remain located at other offices in the state.
Those seeking loans go through an application process, she said. If loans are not offered to an individual the first time around, Beatty said, the Coastal Women's Ventures program will offer counseling or classes to help business secure funding in the future.
"The goal is to help as many as possible. There really is no limit," Beatty said. "With Carolina Small Business Development Fund ... the impact since 2010, they've made 576 small business loans totaling $41.6 million, and this has created or retained 1,910 jobs across North Carolina."
Beatty said that over the next few weeks she will conduct community outreach efforts to get individuals familiar with the program, visiting schools and career fairs and working with community organizations.
“The partnership we’ve built with the CSBDF and our mutual commitment to empowering women will help fulfill the goals of the YWCA’s Coastal Women’s Ventures program. We couldn’t be more thrilled to bring this much-needed resource to women entrepreneurs in Southeastern NC,” Jenni Harris, YWCA Lower Cape Fear board president, said in the release.