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WomenVenture Chosen as Minnesota’s Women’s Business Center of the Year by the SBA

Release Date: 
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Release Number: 
Sarah Swenty, 612-370-2316,

MINNEAPOLIS – Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that WomenVenture in Minneapolis is the state’s Women’s Business Center of the Year. In fiscal year 2016, WomenVenture helped over 1,000 women start or grow their small business and helped them access $5.9 million in capital. That was a 66 percent increase over how many entrepreneurs it helped the year before. WomenVenture will receive its award at the annual Minnesota SBA Small Business Week Luncheon on May 4, 2017.

WomenVenture is a Twin Cities-based non-profit that for four decades has provided more than 100,000 women of all ages, cultures, races and income levels with the tools and resources to achieve economic success. It focuses on serving low-income women and women of color in the metro area and last year, 69 percent of its clients were low and moderate income and 32 percent were women of color. It provides entrepreneurship training, one-on-one business consulting, and small business loans up to $50,000 for qualified borrowers.

WomenVenture’s Executive Director, Elaine Wyatt joined the organization in 2013. In 2014, the board of directors approved a 3-year strategic plan focused on providing services to women throughout their entrepreneurial journey from launch to scale. Their ability to serve significantly more women has been achieved through harnessing the power of skilled subject matter expert volunteers to teach, mentor and council their clients and the generous support of their donors and funders, including the SBA, who make it possible for them to serve all women, regardless of their income level.

“WomenVenture is deeply committed to helping women start and grow profitable and sustainable businesses that generate jobs, provide living wages, and create a more vibrant Twin Cities community,” said Elaine Wyatt. “We are continuously looking for innovative ways to help women entrepreneurs succeed. We are truly honored to receive this award from the SBA in recognition of our efforts.”

Maelei Catt, owner of CREATIONS Cabinetry, has directly benefited from WomenVenture’s efforts. In 2012, Catt started working as an independent cabinet design and sales contractor and her business grew quickly. Struggling to keep up with demand, she found herself building cabinets on her dining room table when no one else was available to help. Knowing she needed help, she turned to WomenVenture in late 2015. 

Working with the loan team, Catt secured the capital she needed to open a combined showroom and warehouse space, purchase a van and forklift, and bring on additional staff.  Along with her loan, she received technical assistance from WomenVenture in accounting and learned more about QuickBooks, set up her payroll, and obtained certification as a woman-owned business.  “I got a lot of support that I never really expected,” says Catt. “The shift to having my own store was something I had talked about 12 years ago and now it’s finally a reality.” In less than a year, Catt’s business has tripled in size and now employs a staff of six that all earn livable wages.

The SBA, along with the SCORE Association and the Small Business Development Center, will honor WomenVenture at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards luncheon on May 4, 2017, at the Marriot Minneapolis Northwest in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Registration is open for the event until April 30, 2017 at

For more information on Small Business Week, please visit


The Small Business Administration was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The Minnesota District Office provides SBA programs and services to the state of Minnesota. Working with our resource partners across the state, we help businesses start, grow and achieve success. For more information on our programs and services, visit