Coronavirus (COVID-19): Relief options and Additional Resources

WomenVenture is SBA’s 2020 Minnesota Women’s Business Center of the Year

Release Date: 
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Release Number: 
Sarah Swenty, 202-431-7587,

MINNEAPOLIS – The U.S. Small Business Administration has named WomenVenture the 2020 Minnesota Women’s Business Center of the Year. In recognition of National Small Business Week, SBA’s Minnesota District will recognize its 2020 state winners at local events in the weeks ahead.

WomenVenture was chosen for its excellence and innovation in training, counseling culturally and economically diverse women entrepreneurs, and serving as a community champion for women-owned small businesses.

“Women starting and growing small businesses in the greater metro area have an outstanding advocate in WomenVenture,” said SBA Minnesota District Director Brian McDonald. “The classes, mentoring and access to capital they provide makes a huge difference in the lives of the women business owners, their employees and their families.”

WomenVenture provides business training classes, access to small business loans, one-to-one business advice and a community of support for its clients, enabling them to start and grow their small businesses. It works with over 150 committed, skilled professionals who volunteer to provide technical assistance and mentorship tailored to women business owners.

Sarah Pike, the Women’s Business Center director at WomenVenture, draws on her deep experience increasing economic self-sufficiency for individuals and communities to lead the WBC’s training, consulting, and lending programs. Pike earned her MBA from the University of St. Thomas and has spent 22 years in economic and business development in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Pike and her team work to ensure women business owners and entrepreneurs have the support they need. WBC Counselor Mary Jo Schifsky started at WomenVenture as a volunteer in 2015, but soon went on to help the team create part of a curriculum for a business planning class and now coaches growing businesses that have found themselves at turning points.

Joy McBrien, owner of the social enterprise Fair Anita, was one of many business owners served by educational classes at the WBC. “Before I took the class at WomenVenture, I understood the general idea of what our P&L and balance sheets were,” McBrien shared. “But now I’m feeling fully competent- even excited- to share these documents with our team. And it’s changing the way I operate my business.”

WomenVenture primarily serves women in the Twin Cities Metro area, emphasizing women from various racial and ethnic backgrounds as well as women from low income households. The organization has developed key training programs, including ScaleUp!, Small Business Essentials and Accelerating Success to serve small business owners of all types, from those running part-time side hustles to robustly profitably owners positioned for exponential growth.

In recognition of National Small Business Week, which is taking place the third week of September, SBA’s Minnesota District will recognize its 2020 state winners at local events in the weeks ahead. At the national level, the SBA is hosting a national three-day virtual event Sept. 22-24 featuring conference numerous educational panels providing retooling and innovative practices for entrepreneurs as our nation’s small businesses look to pivot and recover toward a stronger economy. The SBA also will recognize the national award winners, including the naming of this year’s National Small Business Person of the Year. For registration and additional information on National Small Business Week, visit

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start and grow their businesses. It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit