I-WE Newsflash (1).jpg
  • Areas of Focus Updates
  • Meet Tidani
  • I-WE SF lunch
  • Catherine Berman of CNote
  • Further Reading


The Invest in Women Entrepreneurs Initiative has three major areas of focus: research on resources for women entrepreneurs, capital access, and funding for Women's Business Centers. Here are our latest updates on those fronts.

Research: The I-WE team is taking a look at the landscape of resources available to women entrepreneurs, especially through government organizations and initiatives. Agencies such as the SBA, Department of Commerce, HUD, and many others offer programs (grants, loans, etc) that impact women in business. We're tackling the enormous challenge of finding the right people in each agency who can help us pull demographic information on what percentage of their resources go towards helping women specifically. Esther Morales has been an enormous help in pinpointing a few dozen of the biggest programs nationwide.

Capital: The I-WE Sphere of Influence brought together women leaders from the RSF Women's Capital Collaborative with First Republic Bank to explore directing investments and grants to women social enterprises. In addition we are working with the Women's Business Enterprise Council- Pacific that certifies WBEs for corporate contracts, to identify the financing needs of these businesses and develop new loan products- with banks and CDFIs-  that will enable them to grow. Only 2% of women business owners have revenues over $1 million. WBEs competing for corporate contracts are on a growth trajectory, but lack the right type of affordable capital and business support to take full advantage of these opportunities. Banks and CDFIs want good customers but need to develop the appropriate products to reach this segment of women business owners. I-WE's role is to serve as a bridge to connect needs with opportunities so that WBEs can grow to their full potential.

Funding for WBCs: We were thrilled to see Governor Brown approve $23 million in new funding for small business technical assistance in California. These funds include matching grants for all 14 SBA funded Women's Business Centers, as well as expansion grants for WBCs, SBDCs, Veterans (VBOCs), Procurement (PTACs) and Minority Business Development Agencies. We owe this win to the long-time advocacy of CAMEO, plus some great collaborations between often competing groups. This state funding will serve to leverage other government and corporate funding for WBCs. I-WE is activating our network to nurture such opportunities so that we can achieve significant growth in support to women entrepreneurs.



Investing in the next generation of women leaders is crucial to the long-term success of women entrepreneurs, so the I-WE Initiative is happy to announce the hiring of our summer communications specialist, Tidani Berhe. Tidani will be taking on research projects such as quantifying government support for women business owners and looking into disparities in financing options. A special thanks to Marsha Bailey, I-WE Steering Committee member, who handed over her speaking invitation at UC Davis to Claudia who then met and recruited Tidani for this position!  


A fantastic, passionate group of I-WE leaders and supporters came together in SF for a collaborative discussion. We strategized about how to combine the strengths and resources of our bank leaders, policy experts, experienced marketers, and more to drive more funding to women business owners. These gatherings represent the "expanded kitchen table" of our work, where women business leaders can bring their hearts, minds and contacts together on behalf of our mission.  


Cat Berman, co-founder of CNote, has made it her mission to help women and other underserved entrepreneurs by giving people a straightforward way to invest in mission-based ventures. CNote customers derive a better rate of return on their savings accounts, which are invested in CDFIs such as CDC Small Business in California. Furthermore, our communities benefit from the success of all of the small businesses accessing this capital. I-WE is proud to be collaborating with innovators like Cat as we advance our common mission of getting more capital to women-owned businesses. Check out the CNote post on the importance of socially-conscious investing. 


Stay tuned!

- Claudia