Women helping women: Welcome to the new age of entrepreneurship in Central Texas

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Austin, TX (2/7/13)- A celebratory Women’s Night Out kicked off a new women-focused fundraising campaign on Thursday, February 6th at iPic Theaters. The evening received rave reviews from all who attended. Features included: influential speaker and Dell Entrepreneur in Residence Ingrid Vanderveldt, a silent auction, a glamorous red carpet, a unique shopping experience, and the world premiere of Women Unveiled: The Entrepreneurial Truth of Texas.

It’s no secret that small businesses are the driving force behind community building, and no organization knows that better than BiGAUSTIN. That is why in 2014, the nonprofit microlender and educational resource has created a goal to raise $1,000,000 for the purpose of supporting- as well as increasing- the number of women-owned businesses in Central Texas. This campaign is called Women of Wealth 1000 (WOW1000).

The message of WOW1000 is that Central Texas women entrepreneurs need your help. “We are asking you to give back. Look at the small businesses you use every day and think about what your life would be like without them. When you invest in small business, you invest in the future of our local economy”, emphasized BiGAUSTIN Executive Director Stacy Dukes-Rhone. The campaign uses Ambassadors- philanthropic leaders across all industries that go out into the community, let others know about the cause, and bring them on board. The funds are used for microloans, training programs, specialized counseling, and assisting women in every stage of the business process.

WOW1000 is unique in that a portion of funds are set aside to assist women coming out of the most oppressive circumstances, such as human trafficking. By delivering basic training and financial literacy education, as well as working with the Austin Police Department and other women’s resource providers, BiGAUSTIN provides an open door for women who have been severely downtrodden and seek a new beginning. “This is a much needed fund,” Rhone expressed. “Texas sees 25% of the nation’s human trafficking victims. With all that money being exchanged through the exploitation of women, our response instead is to liberate; provide a new alternative for women.”

Why focus on women? After two years of research, BiGAUSTIN discovered that their efforts were yielding the highest impact on women-owned businesses, both on the livelihood of the business owner as well as the employees

hired by that business. WOW1000 was born out of a desire to exponentially increase that impact. To demonstrate the organization’s track record, look no further than Britanie Olvera of B.I.T. Construction and Building Team Solutions. Olvera started her first business in 2008 with a BiGAUSTIN loan and thrived during the recession when similar businesses were closing their doors. When the large banks turned Olvera down, BiGAUSTIN was there with the funds her business needed to take off. Her second business, also funded by BiG,

placed among the Top 25 Ethnic Minority-Owned Businesses in the 2014 Austin Business Journal Book of Lists.

Olvera’s struggles with receiving funding are not uncommon. Women receive only five percent of the venture capital distributed across the country, and often start businesses in industries that banks are hesitant to fund, such as childcare services, salons, and restaurants. “The goal with raising the million dollars is to show Central Texas that women do have an equal opportunity to start a business. Because we provide that opportunity through these funds,” said Rhone.

For 19 years Business Investment Growth, Inc. (BiGAUSTIN) has played a vital role in sustaining thousands of the unique businesses that make Austin one of the best cities in the country for entrepreneurship. But it doesn’t fund the big startups that constantly make the headlines. They fund the little guys: the bakery that provides morning coffee to thousands of busy people on their way to work; the store you visit when you’re looking for that perfect gift; the food truck you go to when you need a late-night snack. BiGAUSTIN provides entrepreneurial education, tailored business counseling, and microloans to the businesses you use every day. These businesses improve lives, build a strong local economy, and BiGAUSTIN gives them the support to do so.

2014 Ambassadors: Judy O’Brien Chavis, Senior Director of Strategic Partner Relationships, Hewlett Packard; Dawnna Dukes, Texas State Representative; Rina Hartline, Director of Texas State Relations, CenterPoint Energy & Founder of the Association of Women in Energy; Donna Normandin, Senior Vice President, Frost Bank; Blyth Rehberg, Marketing Director, Texas Certified Development Company; Chelsea McCullough, Executive Director, Texans for Economic Progress; Lulu Flores, Partner, HendlerLaw.

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