Special Secretary Maria Martinez of the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs recently presented a proclamation from Governor Wes Moore declaring October 2023 as Maryland Women’s Small Business Month. One hundred and twenty-five women entrepreneurs attended the celebratory event that was underway at the Governor’s Coordinating Offices, located in Crownsville, Maryland on October 10, 2023.
Maryland women’s business centers, which are available to help women across the state who want to grow or start a business, were highlighted during the Maryland Women Small Business Celebration 2023. The centers include: Baltimore Metropolitan Women’s Business Center; Maryland Women’s Business Center; and Maryland Capital Enterprises Women’s Business Center.
“I am the product of a women’s business center and know first-hand how powerful these organizations are. After surviving domestic abuse and homelessness, I was able to begin my entrepreneurial journey thanks to the support they provided and the skills they taught me to be a successful women small business owner,” said Martinez.
Business-minded women can tap into services and resources that are provided to assist women entrepreneurs in Maryland by reaching out to the prospective centers.
Ann Frank, director of SBA Baltimore Metropolitan Women’s Business Center at Morgan State University, reminded that the center is committed to embracing women business owners in their entrepreneurship journey. Assistance is provided to them from business ideation to business formation.
“Additionally, we provide resources to enhance their [women’s] business knowledge and support their ingenuity for growth,” Frank said. “We provide regularly branded trainings, panel discussions, a branded one-on-one mentorship program, handheld governmental business certification support and a leadership support forum.”
Frank wants more women to know that U.P.S.C.A.L.E (Utilizing Procurement Systems for Certifications & Contract Awards to Leverage Economic Empowerment) is offered.
“We hand-hold women through obtaining certifications for doing business with [the] government,” Frank said.
Women in Baltimore City; Baltimore County; Howard County; Anne Arundel County; Carroll County; and Harford County are served at Frank’s location. Visit www.baltmetrowbc.org to obtain details.
Danette Nguyen serves as managing director of Maryland Women’s Business Center located in Rockville, Maryland and Bowie State University Women’s Business Center located in Bowie, Maryland. Bowie State University Women’s Business Center serves the city of Bowie, Howard and Prince George’s Counties. Maryland Women’s Business Center serves the cities of Rockville and Frederick along with Frederick and Montgomery Counties.
Nguyen also shared that women business centers that are in Maryland are not only for established businesses, but also for aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals with business ideas.
Additionally, she wants more women to know about several offerings.
“While all of the WBC’s [Women Business Centers] in Maryland provide training and counseling services, specialized programs such as target incubators for childcare and retail enterprises can be found at the Maryland Women’s Business Center (MWBC). For instance, the retail incubator, MWBC Shop Local, is dedicated to helping retail and small-scale manufacturing women entrepreneurs thrive. This unique incubator combines both a program-based and space-based approach. The program-model provides technical assistance, mentorship, and access to capital, while the space-based approach minimizes financial risk through shared space, making it an excellent opportunity to launch and grow a retail business in Maryland,” Nguyen said.
She added, “MWBC Shop Local will be accepting applications for a new six-month cohort in November/December, providing an opportunity for aspiring and existing retail entrepreneurs to receive the support they need to succeed. To apply to this cohort, or to learn more about MWBC Shop Local, visit www.mwbcshoplocal.com.”
Nguyen further noted that women’s business centers of Maryland provide business counseling at no charge. Most training and events are also provided free, although a few may be offered at a nominal fee. Obtain more information about Maryland Women’s Business Center and Bowie State University Women’s Center via https://marylandwbc.org/.
Lisa Twilley, director of Maryland Capital Enterprises Women’s Business Center, explained that headquarters are located in Salisbury, Maryland. The Western Shore location is located in Baltimore.
“Maryland Capital Enterprises Women’s Business Center (WBC) is designed to empower women in starting and expanding small businesses on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and across the state,” Twilley said. “All of our WBC services are free!”
Training workshops, business counseling, one-on-one mentoring and marketing consulting are provided.
Twilley added, “In addition, Maryland Capital Enterprises, Inc. (MCE) offers small business loans to WBC clients,” Twilley said. “MCE provides funding for small and micro businesses that wish to start or expand their businesses. MCE is the only micro-enterprise organization in the state of Maryland certified as [an] SBA, USDA and CDFI Intermediary Lender.”
More information about MCE Women’s Business Center is available via https://womensbusinesscenteratmarylandcapitalenterprises.org/.