NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Women’s Business Development Center’s (WBDC) Central Connecticut Regional office has been named Women’s Business Center of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
WBDC offers no-cost or low-cost business development training, consulting, and education to women at all stages of entrepreneurship. Programs for aspiring, emerging and established entrepreneurs are conducted virtually and at training sites throughout the western, central, and eastern regions of Connecticut. WBDC Women’s Business Centers are located in Stamford, New Haven, and New London.
The honor coincides with the official opening of Central Connecticut Regional office in New Haven, which was recently relocated from Derby.
The Central Region center has served more than 3,100 clients since 2008. In 2021 alone, the team served 416 clients through training, 157 clients through counseling, and supported 35 clients in accessing more than $647,000 in capital.
In fulfillment of WBDC’s mission to empower economic development in underserved communities, 42% of the New Haven center’s business clients are minority-owned. This past year, the center established new partnerships with reSET in Hartford (a program for food entrepreneurs) and The Black Business Alliance in New Haven. The office collaborated with The Black Business Alliance to offer financial workshops and planning and joined reSET’s food and retail incubator programs, serving as a panel judge during pitch presentations.
Since 2017, Central Region clients have accessed more than $6.1M in capital, including WBDC Child Care Opportunity Fund and Equity Match Grant (EMG) program funds. While EMG helps business owners grow by improving efficiency and introducing innovations, the Child Care Opportunity Fund supports a critical sector of the Connecticut economy: childcare providers and by extension, working families.
In nominating the New Haven office for the honor, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Dist. 3) said that she was “extremely inspired” by the partnership between the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood and the central region center.
“As a result of this partnership, 520 childcare businesses in Central Connecticut have been supported through over 2,400 hours of training and counseling, with 72 of these clients receiving 110 cash and technology grants totaling more than $930,000,” she wrote.
The New Haven office is headed up by Kenyétta Banks, who joined WBDC in 2007 as a consultant to help women draft business plans. Since then, Banks has taken on responsibilities for managing programs and services. She additionally conducts one-on-one advising sessions to work with business owners on specific challenges.
In his nomination letter, David Salinas, founder of Digital Surgeons and District New Haven (where the Central Region office is located), noted that the New Haven center “has a dedicated team of staff, consultants and volunteers that provide clients with the expertise needed to take their business to new heights, and advocate for them in the industry. Though entrepreneurship is a daunting profession, especially for those looking to enter it for the first time, I have heard from WBDC clients time and again, that the team at WBDC makes it a manageable process, continuously providing encouragement and accountability.”
He went on to say, “Moreover, clients have expressed that without WBDC, they would not have had the necessary skills to launch their business, or the confidence to scale their venture.”
“WBDC is proving its worth as an innovative, solution-oriented resource that only serves to make central Connecticut a better place for businesses to thrive,” DeLauro said.
About the Women’s Business Development Council
Since 1997, the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) has educated and trained more than 18,000 clients—helping women to launch and scale over 6,500 businesses, create, and maintain over 8,750 jobs in Connecticut, and access more than $24.9 million in capital. WBDC is the only agency in Connecticut reflective of the statewide demographic makeup offering comprehensive micro-enterprise training, with services ranging from financial education, entrepreneurial development, and access to capital programs.