Gifts in Action: Women Entrepreneurs
Unique Partnership Creates Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs
by Audrey Maynard (’03)
Now in its fourth year, the Banking on Women program at Westminster provides women business owners with small-business financial education classes, mentoring, and the opportunity to apply for a microenterprise loan. This unique program is sponsored by a partnership between GE Capital Bank, the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund, Synchrony Bank, and the Center for Entrepreneurship at Westminster, with the goal of helping women entrepreneurs create jobs and spur economic growth in Salt Lake City.
Kate (Evans) Dowden (’08), a nursing graduate, was diagnosed with cancer when she was 34. After undergoing radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, she was motivated to prevent the disease from returning and followed the advice of her doctor to adopt a diet rich in whole-plant–based foods.
With a clear understanding of the challenges she faced in implementing her new diet, “Nurse Kate” saw an opportunity to help others embrace a healthier diet, but she did not have the knowledge to get a business off the ground…until she enrolled in the Banking on Women program. “My experience in Banking on Women was amazing,” Kate says, “To walk into a room full of people who cared about me and my ideas—and to hear their ideas—was powerful. Going through the business-plan process was incredibly hard, but Banking on Women ensures there are steps to walk, not a cliff to jump off!”
Julie Buchholz, community reinvestment act officer at GE Capital Bank, believes that investing in women is one of the most effective ways by which her organization can support the community. “GE Capital Bank is committed to the Banking on Women program because there is a true need for increased financial capability, business-development training, and resources within Utah’s low- and moderate income-communities,” she says. “This is especially true for Utah’s low- and moderate-income female entrepreneurs. In Utah, women are less likely to obtain a four-year degree, women make 70 cents to every dollar, and 13 percent of women are living in poverty. The Banking on Women program provides an alternative pathway to fight these issues by investing in the innovative local talent of women entrepreneurs.”
Nurse Kate asserts that she could not have launched her business without the guidance and education received through Banking on Women. “It means the world to me to have the skills to take my destiny into my own hands,” she says.
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster College’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.