Inspiring Women Business Owners and Community Partners

Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce. Photos by Trinity Wheeler Photography

Hosted by Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV), the event raised funds to help sustain and support entrepreneurship in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) hosted its annual Empowerment is Priceless fundraiser at Camarillo Ranch on Wednesday, October 18. The event recognizes outstanding women in business as well as community partners who advocate for economic empowerment in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. WEV is a non-profit that provides a full range of small business support – including classes, consulting, and funding – as well as financial literacy programs in both English and Spanish. Information at .

This year’s awardees demonstrate determination, leadership, and the power of community. WEV awarded Client of the Year to Blanca Hoffmeier, President of SWPPP CAL Stormwater Management, the Trailblazer Award to Vanessa Bechtel, President & CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation, and Community Partner of the Year to the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce.

Blanca Hoffmeier

Client of the Year honoree Blanca Hoffmeier spoke to the crowd of 250 attendees and shared her inspirational story. In 2017, Hoffmeier started her stormwater management business in Thousand Oaks. “ I started SWPPP CAL because I care about the world I live in and found a way to make that my profession. I’m proud to say that my story is a testament to the power of mentorship, determination, and a firm belief in the potential of women.” As a woman-business owner working in the male-dominated industry of engineering and construction, Blanca is also among the few certified drone pilots nationally who are women – only 8% in the U.S. “I have an engineering degree, but never studied business. And English is my second language. WEV has meant the world to me as a Latina. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to WEV for leveling up my business. By extension, my life, and my family,” explained Hoffmeier.

Vanessa Bechtel

WEV CEO Kathy Odell shared “We are seeing an unprecedented surge in entrepreneurship across the United States and women entrepreneurs are driving the surge. In 2019, women comprised just 29% of new business applications. Since 2021, they’ve represented over 49% of all new businesses. Clients come to us often with limited business resources or training, but with boundless aspirations, unwavering commitment, passion, and determination. At WEV, our mission is to ensure their success.”

Lure Digital produced WEV’s Empowerment is Priceless video, which shares the stories of local business owners as well as the economic perspective from Ventura County CEO Dr. Sevet Johnson. Ky Schultz and Bria Little of Lure Digital, said, “We are honored to produce the Empowerment is Priceless video, featuring stories about WEV’s unique ability to cultivate the power within each individual to realize their entrepreneurial dreams.”

Proceeds raised at the Empowerment is Priceless event will directly benefit WEV’s business funding and client programs, including financial literacy and education classes, business training courses, individual coaching, and business advisory services – all provided in both English and Spanish.

Women’s Economic Ventures is dedicated to the economic empowerment of women. WEV is a business resource network for anyone looking to start a business, grow a local business, or improve their business skills.

To support WEV’s work, please visit

Print Friendly, PDF & Email