The Women’s Business Center

December 31, 2010  |   Featured,Uncategorized   |     |   1 Comment

The Women's Business Center

The Women’s Business Center is specifically geared to San Luis Obispo County women who are interested in starting or growing their own small business.

Women’s Business Partners (WBP) is a collaborative organization coordinated by Mission Community Services Corporation to ensure all community resources are leveraged and optimized to support entrepreneurial women throughout Kern, Monterey, San Luis Obispo and North Santa Barbara Counties.

WBP serves everyone interested in establishing self-sufficiency through small business ownership while primarily focusing assistance towards socially and economically disadvantaged women.  Services are offered in Spanish and English at four dominant population centers of Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Salinas and Bakersfield.

According to the Small Business Administration, women’s start-ups outpace those headed by men in revenue growth by a margin of two to one. Furthermore, the report “An Assessment of Community Needs, 2000-2001” prepared for Mission Community Bank by Change Management Coaching in October 2000, provides more local evidence that minority and women-owned business lending should be a priority because they are the fastest growing segment of California small businesses.  Another key report finding was the lack of available capital for women’s ventures despite a period of rapid economic growth and low unemployment.

Local women-owned businesses generally receive only 2% of total capital available.  Providing capital through micro credit loans along with technical business development assistance and coaching is the niche with most potential for MCSC client success.  Also important to consider, minority and women-owned businesses are more likely to employ other minorities and women thus multiplying the positive effect of MCSC products and services in our communities.

“The MCSC self-employment courses gave me exactly what I needed; the ideas and the motivation to take my life by the reins!  It gave me the structure that I needed in place to put my experience and knowledge to work.   Now, less than 10 weeks later, I already have a viable business that is paying all my bills… My hat is off to all who have participated in making this opportunity available.  I look forward to giving back to others, the opportunity that was given to me.  My heartfelt thanks!” Heather R.

Such statements from the many thank-you letters received document the successes of Mission Community Services Corporation (MCSC) 440+ self-employment training graduates since 2003.   Approximately 75% of MCSC clients are low-income; another 20% are moderate income.

Despite MCSC achievements, too many businesses and nascent entrepreneurs remain unaware of or unable to access the important programs and services offered by MCSC.   Central CA is home to many rural disadvantaged populations facing many significant barriers to accessing business development assistance.  Every day, MCSC receives calls from panicked uninformed business owners facing crises and potential business closure.   Furthermore, the fast growing internet economy and global economic trends impact our local businesses in unexpected ways everyday.   Without technical assistance services such as those offered by MCSC through its Women’s Business Partners Center, many businesses will fail and many others will never reach their full potential.

MCSC is serving three of Fresno SBA District Counties (Kern, Monterey, SLO Counties with future plans to serve all counties in the District); a region across the north-central coast and central valleys of CA – see the red outlined area delineated on the map below (the yellow outlined area delineates future service area). Of all women-owned firms reported in CA, approximately 28.5% are within this WBP service region – that equates to over 212,500 women-owned firms. The MCSC potential service region is ranked among the ten highest states in population growth, higher than the States of Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington. The service region also outranks 20 other states in population and averages at 17% of its population below poverty.

While Wells Fargo Economics CA Report  more recently documented that population growth has slowed, the WBP potential service region’s total land area and overall population represents 24% and 11% respectively, of the CA’s population. Statistics show that within the Central CA region there were 221,112 Hispanic persons below poverty level and 37,859 families with female head of household (no spouse present) were also below poverty level in 1998.   Furthermore, the map below demonstrates the high concentration of unemployment rates in the WBP Center’s service region with the dark blue representing communities from 11.4% to 18% unemployment. Unemployment in the Central CA region far exceeds that of the Los Angeles basin region where seven WBCs are currently funded. WBP is the ONLY WBC funded by the US SBA to serve Central CA region.

Increasingly, CA families are struggling to make ends meet with many living paycheck to paycheck juggling rent or mortgage payments with child care, food, utilities or other day to day living expenses. Welfare reform has pushed many into low-paying jobs that do not provide sufficient income to support families. The Federal Poverty Level fails to reflect CA’s high cost of living, overwhelming losses of manufacturing and defense sector jobs in the last decade, impacts of the recent home mortgage credit crises or family ability to live beyond a “bare bones” existence. A survey released by the Public Policy Institute of CA documents that CA has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation after the cost of living is taken into account! The SLO Tribune reported that CA has the distinction of being home to the 11 most out-of-reach metropolitan areas in the US with the City of Salinas ranking as the least affordable place to live.  Salinas is in Monterey County and is within MCSC’s WBP Center service region.

Approximately 13.5% of the SLO population lives in poverty.  Employees including motel maids, agriculture workers, retail clerks, educators, fire fighters, and medical personnel as well as employers are exiting the county in increasing numbers.  A high student population attending CalPoly and Cuesta College affect rising rental rates in an area with already low housing availability for LMI populations. LMI residents are often highly educated but grossly underemployed in dead end jobs. Self-employment is the only way many can open up the income ceiling to keep long established family ties and community roots in place. MCSC is anxious to obtain this Wells Fargo Grant enabling us to reach these critically underserved target markets.

About 21% of the Kern County’s population and 14% of Monterey County’s general population lives below poverty.    All together between the three counties, there are over 26,000 non-farm establishments with women owning about 25% of the SLO County businesses, 22% of Kern County and 28% of Monterey County businesses. Minority owned businesses account for 12.5, 13.5 and 22.9% respectively across SLO, Kern and Monterey County. Several census tracts within the proposed WBP service area qualify as hub zones – MCSC has clearly identified the neighborhoods and is already reaching out to them. With women opening businesses at twice the rate of the national rate, and Latina’s at six times the national rate, the segment with the highest dormant potential for economic improvement sits within MCSC target population.

Trends show CA population is growing and becoming more diverse yet until MCSC began offering technical assistance programs, Central CA lacked any women’s business development organization to address the special needs of the population with the highest potential to expand and stabilize the economy!  The average worker would need three times the State’s minimum wage of $6.75 just to carve out a meager existence in the region MCSC proposes to serve.  This disparity between working wages and the cost of raising a family in CA call loudly for economic development programs that can increase self-sufficiency levels.

MCSC believes a focus on minority and women-owned business will produce the largest realization of improved socio-economic status for the existing low and moderate income sector in the Central California region.

Services and Products WBP provides entrepreneurial training, private consultation services, assistance with accessing capital, a certification program and a Women’s Business Buyers Guide supported by MCSC services and the Business Information Center.  Funding is currently being sought to bring services to an online virtual format.

For more information, please contact David Ryal at:

71 Zaca Lane – Suite 130

San Luis Obispo, CA  93401

Ph.  877 831-9377

1 Comment for this entry

  • Martha Munis

    October 27th, 2012 on 2:36 am

    I am interested in getting certification as a women owned business. I have been in business 2 years as a Real Estate appraiser, with 20 years experience and I am in Paso Robles.