Women’s Economic Ventures Honors Trailblazer and Business of the Year Award Winners at “Empowerment is Priceless” Fundraiser

Photo Captain: From left to right: Lynda Nahra, 2017 Trailblazer; Kathy Odell, WEV Board President; Marsha Bailey, WEV Founder and CEO; and Claudia Cordova Papa, owner of Aqua Skin & Nail Care, 2017 WEV Business of the Year. (Photo credit: Theresa Gingras/Theresa Gingras Photography)

Annual event raises more than $400,000 to support local entrepreneurs

Santa Barbara, CA, October 10, 2017 —Women’s Economic Ventures’ (WEV) welcomed close to 400 guests and raised more than $400,000 at their Empowerment is Priceless event held on October 10th at the Fess Parker Hotel in Santa Barbara. The non-profit’s  annual breakfast fundraiser recognized WEV’s 2017 Trailblazer, Business of the Year and Volunteer of the Year award winners. Guests at the event interacted with featured WEV clients who shared their personal experiences as entrepreneurs and how their businesses have evolved with the support of WEV’S programs.

Each year WEV presents the Trailblazer Award to a woman who is a pioneer in her industry, exemplifying courage, vision and the tenacity to overcome barriers. This year, WEV honored Lynda Nahra, the first female bank president in Santa Barbara and the current President of the Central Coast Region of Pacific Western Bank. 

“When Lynda started her banking career in 1970 it was a different era,” said Catharine Manset Morreale, Director of Finance for Santa Barbara’s Habitat for Humanity who introduced Nahra. “Women were expected to stay in their place. Possibly attend college and spend a few years in a low paying job before getting married and leaving the workforce.  Lynda was a trailblazer because she broke that mold.  She worked her way up the ladder the old fashioned way – lots of hard work combined with a stubbornness not to accept the status quo.”

WEV’s Business of the Year award honors a business owner who represents the clients the organization serves and recognizes the unique and inspiring nature of a business and the contributions it and its owner makes to the community. The 2017 WEV Business of the Year award went to Claudia Cordova Papa, owner of Aqua Skin & Nail Care, a dedicated client who has utilized the WEV loan program and Thrive-in-Five business consulting. Aqua currently has ten full time employees who benefit from Aqua’s team-based pay compensation system that allows them to share in the company’s profits through a unique business model implemented by Cordova Papa last year.

WEV also honored Hudson Institute of Coaching as Volunteer of the Year for their commitment and service to WEV. For more than 10 years Hudson has provided entrepreneurial coaching to push WEV clients to work at their peak capacity by identifying and developing their personal skills and assets.

For 26 years WEV has been working to help women entrepreneurs to succeed. “Women’s business ownership is about freedom and options, security — and human potential. It is about empowering women to dream big dreams, to act on a bigger stage, to become leaders,” said Marsha Bailey, WEV’s founder and CEO.

“The good news is that women are starting businesses at five times the national average and own 38% of privately held firms,” Bailey continued. “Unfortunately, they start their businesses with half as much capital as their male counterparts. The capital gap widens as businesses grow larger. Among the largest businesses – the top 25% – men receive six times more capital than women. Last year women received only 2% of venture capital dollars, a decline from previous years.”

These statistics clearly demonstrate the importance of progams like WEV. In addition to educational programs that build skills and confidence to help women business owners, WEV has made $4 million in small business loans and plans to increase its lending to $1 million per year within the next three years.

Major sponsors of the 2017 Empowerment is Priceless event were Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray LLP, Pacific Western Bank, JP Morgan Chase & Co., La Arcada Plaza, Lee & Associates-LA North/Ventura, Montecito Bank & Trust, Rabobank, N.A., Union Bank. All proceeds raised will directly benefit client programs in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties including: Self-Employment Training (SET), Thrive in Five®, WEV en Español and the WEV Loan Program.

About Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV)

Women’s Economic Ventures is dedicated to creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women. WEV provides training, consulting and loans to help entrepreneurs start, grow and thrive in business. WEV serves all of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties from offices in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Santa Maria. While WEV targets its services toward women, it serves men as well, and provides many services in English and Spanish.

Since 1991, WEV has provided business training and consulting to over 14,000 women and men throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and made more than $4 million in loans, assisting over 4,000 local businesses. WEV is a U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Center, and a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

A pioneer in the field, WEV was founded by Marsha Bailey, a nationally recognized advocate for women business owners. Marsha recently completed her tenure as board president of the national Association of Women’s Business Centers, and sits on the National Women’s Business Council.

To learn more, visit the website at www.wevonline.org



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