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Wealth of help for women entrepreneurs

by Samantha Pogue | September 14, 2022 at 3:10 a.m.

The share women-owned businesses represent of all businesses skyrocketed in 1972 from a mere 4.6 percent to 42 percent in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Small Business Owners. They also employed 9.4 million workers and generated revenue of approximately $1.9 trillion in the U.S. in 2019.

Despite struggles many business owners fought during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, female entrepreneurs continue to put those business ideas into action and grow their existing small companies to new heights.

There are a lot of resources at the federal, state and regional level for women. Whether it is someone aspiring to be a business owner, a woman looking for financial assistance or someone needing help growing their existing small business, here just some of the organizations and programs available to female entrepreneurs in Mid-Missouri. 

Missouri Women’s Business Center 

Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and a program of the Central Missouri Community Action, the Missouri Women’s Business Center is a prime assistance outlet for women at all levels of their entrepreneurial journey. 

The center, which is based in Columbia, focuses on women, minorities and low-to-moderate income-based entrepreneurs, offering programs, training, coaching, events and resources to help these individuals meet their business goals. The efforts of the center and the help they provide entrepreneurs directly impacts and implements economic growth in eight Mid-Missouri counties – Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau and Osage. 

Some of their services include micro-enterprise funding for small businesses, small business coaching, and assistance with business growth and development. The Missouri Women’s Business Center also offers a twice-a-year, six-week course for aspiring and early-stage business owners. LaunchU will help these entrepreneurs set business goals, craft and pitch a business concept, research their industry and competition, market services and products, identify and reach target customers, choose the right business structure, and adapt a business plan. A new LaunchU course will begin Oct. 4.

The center also hosts a variety of events, such as a weekly conversation with women business owners called Caffeinated Minds that happens at 9 a.m. every Tuesday on Zoom. At 5 p.m. the second Thursday of each month, the Missouri Women’s Business Center also presents an in-person networking and education event at the REDI Training Room (500 E. Walnut St., No. 1 in Columbia). 

The center also presents the Women Who Own It Awards, which “recognizes the importance of female entrepreneurships and the positive impact women-owned businesses have in communities,” the website states. Nominations are currently open and can be submitted through the center’s website. 

For more information about the Missouri Women’s Business Center, call 573-818-2980, email [email protected] or visitmowbc.org. 

Small-Business Development Center at Lincoln University

From initial concept to growing a business to success, the Small-Business Development Center at Lincoln University has a team of business specialists ready to assist entrepreneurs with business development, according to their website. 

One-on-one business counseling, trainings/webinars, a business incubation program and support are all crucial factors offered through Missouri’s SBDC. Services provided at no cost include confidential, no-cost counseling; market analysis; financial projections; funding options; and low-cost training in starting and managing a small business in Missouri, writing a business plan, using QuickBooks, managing financials and attending Launch U: Entrepreneur Bootcamp.

The SBDC at LU is part of the Missouri Small Business Development Center, which is a program of the University of Missouri Extension along with Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers and Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance Center. 

The SBDC at LU is located at 917 Leslie Blvd. in Jefferson City. For more information, call 573-681-5031 or visit https://sbdc.missouri.edu/locations/missouri-sbdc-at-lincoln-university

Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce 

Any local chamber of commerce is worth joining if you own a small business, and the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce is no different. 

It offers a variety of services and benefits to its members including recognition across multiple social media platforms; announcements and business contact information in its weekly e-Connection newsletter and quarterly Chamber Today newspaper; business information in its online membership directory; ribbon cutting celebrations; referrals; advertising and sponsorship opportunities; and lots of networking and community connection experiences through its monthly and annual events and programs. 

The JC Chamber also provides lots of professional development opportunities such as advocacy in the community; enhancing leadership skills through Leadership Jefferson City and gaining interns through Jeff City START; and business development and advice through its Business Resource Guide and SCORE programs and counseling. 

The JC Chamber and Start UP Jefferson City is also hosting its 11th Annual Pitch It & Win It competition. Individuals and/or newly established businesses are encouraged to register and submit their business innovative business ideas for the Jefferson City and Cole County region for a chance to win $5,000 in cash. Existing businesses are also eligible. Co-sponsored with the Missouri Small Business Development Center, SBDC at LU and U.S. Small Business Administration, the event is held in conjunction with the Chamber Business Leadership Summit on Nov. 11. The deadline to register is Sept. 18.  

For more information and to view upcoming chamber events and activities with related organizations – such as Young Professionals – call 573-634-3616 or visit jcchamber.org

Missouri Women’s Business Council 

The Missouri Economic Development Department has a wealth of programs and funding opportunities for businesses. They also provide Women’s Business Assistance, primarily through the state department’s Missouri Women’s Council. 

This council serves as a resource and referral center to help encourage, educate and support Missouri women as they pursue their economic goals, the DED website states. It also connects women to a network of advisory services and information ranging from training and employment to significant information on starting a business while balancing professional and personal lives. 

For more information, call 573-751-0810 or visit https://ded.mo.gov/content/missouri-womens-council.

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