Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation: Celebrates 35 years of impact

MILWAUKEE, WIS. – The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) is kicking off a year-long celebration of their 35th anniversary this month. With a theme of “35 and Thriving,” this leading statewide economic development corporation will be marking the occasion through a series of recognitions, initiatives and continued growth with their staff, volunteers, partners and funders.

WWBIC was incorporated on October 8, 1987 in the midst of the women’s economic empowerment movement as well as the micro-lending movement, and has been “Putting Dreams to Work” ever since. WWBIC is one of Wisconsin’s first Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and over its history, has lent over $85 million in micro and small business loans. They were recently ranked #18 on the Milwaukee Business Journal list of Wisconsin’s largest Small Business Administration lenders.

“WWBIC has come a very long way since I started with the company in 1994,” says Wendy K. Baumann, WWBIC President and Chief Visionary Officer. “We’re now one of the nation’s top microlenders with over 600 active borrowers and a loan portfolio of $23.5 million. But what really keeps me and WWBIC’s more than 75 employees going every day is our mission of providing entrepreneurship and financial wellness training, lending and coaching to under-represented groups who traditionally have difficulty gaining access to fair and responsible capital.”

With a focus on women, people of color, lower-wealth individuals, and veterans and military connected families, WWBIC provides direct lending, quality business training, one-on-one technical business assistance and business training to increase financial wellness. Five regional offices for WWBIC are now set up across the state to serve clients statewide in Milwaukee, Madison, Kenosha/Racine, Appleton/Green Bay and La Crosse. WWBIC also serves as the statewide hub for Kiva US crowdfunding loans and the administrator of the Veterans Business Outreach Centers for Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. Wisconsin Saves (a local division of the national America Saves social marketing campaign encouraging individuals to save money, reduce debt and build wealth) is also organized by WWBIC.

“The pandemic has [brought an] unfriendly future for small business, especially start-ups,” says WWBIC client Fanni Xie, owner of Uni Uni Tea Shop. “When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade – eat the lemon and take the seeds and plant them. WWBIC is the water and the sun I needed to plant my tree. I was able to get a $200,000 SBA start up loan and break down the barriers for me to become a business owner.”

As they embark on another 35 years of impact and beyond, WWBIC is poised to continue to provide quality business and financial training, lending and wrap-around services to the small business community, and leverage the talent and expertise of their staff across all 72 counties in Wisconsin. To learn more about WWBIC, visit: www.wwbic.com.