Partnerships and relationships are what it’s all about. The Women’s Business Center at the Entrepreneurial Center is proud to partner with the MetroHartford Alliance, Innovation Destination: Hartford and their team of supporters to bring this new valuable resource site.
In my role as Program Manager of the Women’s Business Center at the Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Hartford, I have the honor and the privilege to share in the business visions of many women who come through our doors. More than 1,000 clients come to Entrepreneurial Center each year (more than 70% of them are women) for training, networking, guidance, referral and overall support. We offer a variety of programs and events to fit different learning styles and comfort levels. The women’s stories are as varied as can be, and they inspire, motivate and challenge me every day.
It is exciting and very rewarding to be part of an organization with a great history and a wonderful team of staff and supporters, especially at a time when women entrepreneurs are making significant strides. There are now 9.9 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., up 27.5% since 2007. Women—including women from ethnic minorities—are starting businesses at a record pace; fulfilling their dreams, contributing to the economy and giving back to their communities.
On November 12, 2015, The Entrepreneurial Center celebrated a double anniversary—30 years of entrepreneurial training (originally started in 1985 as a program of the Hartford College for Women) and more than 15 years of hosting a Women’s Business Center.
The Women’s Business Center opened in 1999 with funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration and has grown to become one of the top centers in the country in number of clients assisted. At the anniversary event, which was held at the University of Hartford’s main campus, we welcomed many of our funders and partners, as well as past and present small business clients. We also commemorated the occasion with an anniversary magazine published by the Hartford Business Journal.
Despite our successes and record growth, there is a lot more work to be done. Regardless of the record growth of women-owned businesses, there are still many challenges to be overcome, like in areas of contracting and access to capital. Our staff is committed to providing more women and women-owned businesses with the tools, resources and support they need to succeed.
Milena Erwin is Program Manager at the Women’s Business Center at the Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Hartford.