WEV hosted an Award Ceremony

Marisa Aj-Tobar delivering her acceptance speech.

On March 20th Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV, pronounced “weave”) hosted an Award Ceremony at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum to grant $412,500 to 55 Hispanic business owners from across Santa Barbara County. 83 entrepreneurs recently completed WEV’s “Emprendimiento” program, an eight-week business skills course taught entirely in Spanish.  Upon completion of the training, the business owners had the opportunity to submit a business plan in competition for the $7,500 grant to help grow their existing small business.

Among the graduates were 25 childcare business owners through WEV’s partnership with Children’s Resource & Referral of Santa Barbara County.  One such participant, Maria Equihua, Owner of “Tu Casita” family day center in Santa Maria shared during her graduation speech, “Every day I work as a chef, cleaning lady, teacher, nurse, choreographer, motivator, administrator, and psychologist- and now, thanks to this program, I can call myself an entrepreneur. This program prepared us to be smart business owners who focus on the growth and operations of our businesses, giving us valuable educational, administrative and financial tools.”

Another graduate, Marisa Aj Tobar, arrived in the United States from Guatemala in 2008 with what she describes as a “suitcase full of dreams and goals”.  She started out taking the bus to clean houses, worked her way up to supervisory positions on commercial cleaning sites which was what gave her the idea to start her own business.  Today Marisa runs her own small business, “Marisa’s Housekeeping Services” which has other employees and a waiting list.  Marisa said that “coming to WEV was about finding guidance, education, the advice to grow, but above all it was about finding the hope and reaffirmation that I could realize my dreams.  WEV is the life jacket I needed to jump into the water.  My goal is to grow my business so I can employ mothers who would benefit from a flexible schedule that will allow them to have time with their families.”


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