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For Immediate Release CONTACT:  Candice Tang/Juliana Minsky, 805/687-3322

Women’s Economic Ventures to celebrate Self-Employment Training and Business Plan Intensive program grads with December 15th ceremony and showcase

Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, CA, December 15, 2010 – While holiday shopping may be a momentary bolster to the ailing economy, big business continues to cut thousands of jobs throughout the country. Despite this trend, on December 15th 114 local women and men will celebrate a major milestone towards creating their own employment opportunities. After 14 weeks of training in finance, leadership skills, marketing and more, graduates of Women’s Economic Ventures’ (WEV) flagship Self-Employment Training Course are ready to launch or to grow their businesses and turn their entrepreneurial dreams into reality. On Wednesday, December 15th, at 6:00 p.m. 114 men and women will celebrate with families, friends and the community their successful completion of WEV’s Self-Employment Training and Business Plan Intensive programs in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The ceremony and exposition of WEV client businesses will be at the Marjorie Luke Theater at 721 E. Cota St., Santa Barbara.

“Small business is proven to be the backbone of our economy and Women’s Economic Ventures is committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams no matter what the state of the economy,” said Marsha Bailey, Founder and CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures. “We are extremely proud of our program graduates who have worked hard for this moment, and will continue to provide them with the tools and support they need to thrive and grow.”

Graduates range from first-time business owners to those who turned to WEV to help expand their existing businesses. There are 20 graduates from North Santa Barbara County, 50 from South Santa Barbara County, and 44 from throughout Ventura County.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITY

WHAT: Graduation ceremony, reception and business showcase honoring 114 WEV program graduates

WHEN: Wednesday, December 15, 6:00 p.m. [Best Photo Opportunity: 6:45-7:15 pm]

WHERE: Marjorie Luke Theater, 721 E. Cota St., Santa Barbara

WHO: 114 WEV graduates, graduating class speakers, WEV staff and Board Members, community partners, friends, family and invited guests

MEDIA CONTACT: Candice Tang/Juliana Minsky, 805-687-3322, On-Site: 805-689-9395

During the ceremony, each graduate will be recognized for their achievements, and will share their new business venture through an “elevator pitch” that they have crafted and perfected through the course (an elevator pitch is a concise presentation of an idea covering its critical aspects, and delivered within a few seconds—the approximate duration of an elevator ride). The event concludes with a reception and “business expo” where graduates will showcase their new or pre-launch businesses. WEV’s latest Self-Employment and Business Plan Intensive graduate businesses include a music exchange, mobile coffee company, and college counseling service for international students.  One graduate, who is a local optometrist, is even planning to open a boutique offering chic accessories such as sunglasses, hats, and unique items for celebrities and the general public who want to remain incognito!

With a robust menu of training, technical assistance, networking services, and access to capital through its Small Business Loan Fund, WEV has helped to create or expand over 2,000 businesses since inception, creating or retaining over 3,000 local jobs and an average of 300 jobs in the community each year.

WEV’s Self-Employment Training and Business Plan Intensive courses are part of WEV’s continuum of programs that help entrepreneurs start-up, launch, grow, and sustain a business, including business consulting, entrepreneurial coaching, advanced business training, and small business start-up and expansion loans.

WEV’s comprehensive 14 week, 56-hour Self-Employment Training (SET) program is targeted at women (and also serves men) to provide guidance on how to start, operate and expand a business.  The program is offered in both English and Spanish, and provides week-by-week training in the most important aspects of organizing, financing, marketing and managing a small business.  Topics include personal leadership skills, personal finances, marketing and sales, public relations and advertising, legal and insurance issues, record keeping, cash flow projections, and writing a business plan.

Self-Employment Training courses are offered twice each year, with classes starting in September and February.  The class runs for 14 consecutive weeks, one night a week for 3 hours, and includes two full Saturdays.  Classes are taught in Santa Maria, Buellton, Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks and Ventura.  Open enrollment for the course means that participants can sign up at any time throughout the year, after attending a free one-hour orientation workshop. (See below for upcoming orientation dates).

Business Plan Intensive (BPI) – WEV’s New Premiere Business Plan Writing Course

Business Plan Intensive was created specifically for the business professional that is currently in business, has owned a business, or who has work experience and/or an upper-level educational background.  BPI is a 6-week rigorous course offered twice each year in spring and fall that helps entrepreneurs plan for, and reach, new heights of business success. Program participants also have the opportunity to simultaneously enter WEV’s Small Business Loan Fund pipeline while utilizing the course to write the business plan needed to qualify for business capital.

About Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV)

WEV is dedicated to creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women.  Since 1991, WEV has been providing self-employment training, technical assistance and microloans to primarily low-income women. Today, WEV offers a continuum of programs to help women succeed at every stage of the business lifecycle. Services include comprehensive self-employment training program, advanced training, business consulting, coaching, and networking opportunities to help individuals to startup, launch, grow, and sustain a business. WEV’s service area includes Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern Counties. WEV’s Small Business Loan Fund (SBLF) provides start-up and expansion loans to pre-bankable microenterprises.  WEV was designated a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in 1999 by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  In 2005, the Small Business Administration recognized WEV as the most productive Women’s Business Center in the nation. The WEV website is at www.wevonline.org.

January 2011 Self-Employment Training orientation dates:

Call or visit www.wevonline.org for details, locations and to make a reservation.

Santa Barbara & Santa Ynez Valley– (805) 965-6073 x100 or www.wevonline.org

Thursday, January 6th, 12-1pm, Santa Barbara

Tuesday, January 11th, 6-7pm, Buellton

Wednesday, January 12th, 6-7pm, Santa Barbara

Santa Maria & Lompoc – (805) 965-6073 x100 or www.wevonline.org

Friday, January 14th, 12-1pm, Santa Maria

Wednesday, January 19th, 12-1pm, Lompoc

Ventura County – (805) 667-8004 or www.wevonline.org

Wednesday, January 5th, 12-1pm, Ventura

Tuesday, January 11th, 6-7pm, Thousand Oaks

Wednesday, January 12th, 6-7pm, Ventura

Tuesday, January 18th, 6-7pm, Thousand Oaks

WEV is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA’s funding is not an endorsement of any products, opinions or services. All SBA funded programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.

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