Did you know women-owned businesses in North Carolina employ more than a quarter million people and have an $8 billion payroll impact? At the same time, although women represent about half the total population, they own just 1 in 5 businesses across the state. That means there is great untapped potential – and it’s why more than 40% of our loan portfolio last year was to women entrepreneurs.
As a nonprofit CDFI, Carolina Small Business is available to serve aspiring women entrepreneurs in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. In addition to this statewide coverage, we also have three dedicated community engagement program offices. Along with outreach to women, these programs also target other historically underserved communities.
The Western Women’s Business Center (WWBC) was established in 2014 to serve as a catalyst for the success of women entrepreneurs with a focus on the mountain region. The center, located on the campus of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Candler, offers one-on-one business coaching, extensive workshop programming and a variety of networking events. The WWBC also holds its annual conference in June of each year.
In 2017, Carolina Small Business launched the Eastern Women’s Entrepreneurship Center (EWEC) in partnership with Elizabeth City State University, one of our state’s many Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The EWEC is a comprehensive resource center for women in North Carolina’s northeastern region who would benefit from technical assistance or access to capital to start or grow a business.
Individuals seeking to start or expand a small business in Southeastern North Carolina have access to relatively few resources for assistance. So in 2018, we started Coastal Women’s Ventures (CWV) in partnership with the Lower Cape Fear YWCA in Wilmington. CWV is a one-stop-shop technical assistance provider and pathway to access financing for aspiring women entrepreneurs in the region.