The San Diego & Imperial Women’s Business Center (WBC) works to secure economic justice and entrepreneurial opportunities for women by providing training, mentoring, business development and financing opportunities to women entrepreneurs throughout San Diego and Imperial counties. We spoke with their director, Katty Ibarra, who told us about the work they do and how they are investing in women entrepreneurs.
Can you talk about some of the challenges our community faces and how you’re working to overcome them?
The lack of affordable and available childcare institutions is a major challenge for women in our region. San Diego is located in a childcare desert; there are more than 3,000 kids waiting to be accepted into childcare institutions. At the same time, women struggle to find ways to provide for their families and afford childcare. The WBC works with our community to address the need for quality and affordable childcare by providing women with the skills and resources to start a home-based childcare business to both create an income and take care of their children. In partnership with the Chicano Federation, the WBC created the Family Childcare In-home Business Program for Spanish speakers. Over eight weeks, participants learn to navigate the state’s licensing requirements to open a childcare operation. They also learn about business structures, contracts, insurance, marketing, finance, community resources and how to obtain the two certifications needed for the license. We offer seven cohorts a year, and for existing childcare providers, we provide an intensive five-week financial class.
Additionally, the WBC participates in the Family Childcare Business Series with Southwestern College. During this series, students gain an understanding of business basics and child development while also earning a noncredit childcare business certificate.
How else is Women’s Business Center impacting the community?
Since WBC opened our doors in April of 2018, we have focused our services on underserved communities, including women, people of color and businesses in low-wealth areas. We pride ourselves in providing bilingual 1-on-1 business advising and training for diverse populations. Of the 2,697 clients we have served since 2018 1,562 were women, 281 were Black/African American, 156 were Asian, 58 were Native American, 34 were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 1,250 were Hispanic and 71 were veterans. We have served 1,992 unique clients and offered 665 workshops and webinars in both Spanish and English. We have also assisted 783 businesses in opening or expanding, created and supported 6,061 jobs and provided $4.8M in access to capital. The San Diego & Imperial WBC also works closely with Southwestern College, one of the most diverse community colleges in the nation.
Any partnership highlights you’d like to share?
The SDWBC is part of a larger California WBC network featuring 18 other WBCs. The entire network participates in a biweekly call to offer each other support, discuss best practices and develop a statewide online training platform.
We also partner and support many San Diego organizations by:
- Providing training support and business advice for childcare providers in partnership with the Chicano Federation of San Diego. This is where we help support a majority of Spanish-only speaking individuals navigate operating a childcare business.
- Sponsoring annual outreach events to promote entrepreneurship with the National City Chamber of Commerce, The San Diego & Imperial Small Business Development Center (SBDC), My Point Credit Union, Accesity, the Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) Fermanian School of Business and Mana of San Diego
- Hosting the Women’s Success Lab, a monthly virtual networking event in collaboration with SCORE where attendees can practice essential business skills. Together, we also host women networking breakfasts.
- Providing webinars on taxes for small businesses for Spanish speakers in collaboration with the IRS, Union Bank and U.S. Bank on financial literacy
- Collaborating with Hera Hub, a women’s coworking space, to expand and provide business consulting to individuals in Carlsbad, Sorrento Valley and Mission Valley
Can you tell me more about the programs you offer?
The San Diego WBC offers a variety of webinars and trainings in Spanish and English on how to start a business, business planning, cybersecurity, marketing, sales and prospecting. In addition, we are increasing our efforts to provide webinars related to accounting and financial statement basics, including training on the importance of having a business bank account, credit and business finance basics. Our trainings include an intensive five-week financial class and a four-week program that gives women the skills to build more confidence in their lives and businesses.
We also offer an expanded 10-week version called Mindset Reset focusing on negotiation skills, setting up prices and the tools to be financially empowered and build confidence.
If you are interested in receiving free 1-on-1 business counseling and training, sign up at our website. We can assist you with how to start a business, obtain licenses and permits, grow and expand your business, access capital, and more.