Marist College’s Hancock Center hosts the new Women’s Enterprise Development Center satellite
Photograph courtesy of Marist College
It’s been nearly a century since women’s rights were established. But if you think 93 years is enough to level the playing field, think again: According to the U.S. Department of Labor (as detailed in our Women in Business cover story), women are still capturing only 81.2 percent of men’s earnings (as of 2010). Why hello, glass ceiling.
Enter the Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC), a local not-for-profit microenterprise development program that helps women follow their dreams of creating — and even expanding — their own businesses.
The program was first created in 1997 with the goal of “helping women achieve economic self-sufficiency through small business development.” The WEDC now assists more than 1,600 people per year, including those transitioning off public assistance, homemakers, child care providers, and domestic violence survivors.
Due to its success — and through collaborations with well-known corporations like IBM, Citi Foundation, and Con Edison — the organization has been able to offer its services in both English and Spanish, as well as to men. And, last January, WEDC opened a Mid-Hudson satellite in the Hancock Center at Marist College.
Of its many future offerings at the college, the WEDC’s 60+ Hour Business Training Program is set to be a standout. Participants will be able to create a professional business plan that they later present to an executive panel made up of local business representatives. Along with various instructional opportunities, WEDC also provides access to one-on-one counseling services and funding assistance for small businesses.
All participants complete a thorough application process that allows them to elaborate on the type of business they hope to establish or expand. The WEDC then places the applicants into the program that bests fit her individual needs — no cog-in-the-wheel treatment here. And with the Mid-Hudson location serving residents in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties, it’s easier than ever for local women to access affordable, high-quality training required to get their ideas off the ground — and start capturing their fair share of earnings.
As for that old glass ceiling? Consider it cracked.
» Learn more about the Women’s Enterprise Development Center at wedcbiz.org
» Return to the Top 10 Women in Business 2013