Saturday, October 20 , 2018, 10:59 am | Fair 78º

 
 
 
 

Women’s Business Group Honors Trailblazer

Annual event raises $400,000 to support local entrepreneurs

Lynda Nahra, left, Kathy Odell, Marsha Bailey and Claudia Cordova Papa at WEV fundraiser.
Lynda Nahra, left, Kathy Odell, Marsha Bailey and Claudia Cordova Papa at WEV fundraiser. (Theresa Gingras)

Women’s Economic Ventures’ (WEV) welcomed some 400 guests and raised more than $400,000 at its Empowerment is Priceless event held Oct. 10 at the Fess Parker Hotel in Santa Barbara.

The nonprofit’s annual breakfast fundraiser recognized WEV’s 2017 Trailblazer, Business of the Year and Volunteer of the Year award winners.

Each year, WEV presents the Trailblazer Award to a pioneer in her industry, exemplifying courage, vision and the tenacity to overcome barriers.

This year's honor went to Lynda Nahra, who is the first female bank president in Santa Barbara and current president of the Central Coast Region of Pacific Western Bank.

“When Lynda started her banking career in 1970, it was a different era,” said Catharine Manset Morreale, director of finance for Santa Barbara’s Habitat for Humanity.

“Women were expected to stay in their place. Possibly attend college and spend a few years in a low paying job before getting married and leaving the workforce," Morreale said.

"Lynda was a trailblazer because she broke that mold. She worked her way up the ladder the old fashioned way — lots of hard work combined with a stubbornness not to accept the status quo,” Morreale said.

WEV’s Business of the Year award honors a business owner who represents the clients the organization serves and recognizes the unique and inspiring nature of a business and the contributions it and its owner makes to the community.

The 2017 WEV Business of the Year award went to Claudia Cordova Papa, owner of Aqua Skin & Nail Care, a dedicated client who has utilized the WEV loan program and Thrive-in-Five business consulting.

Aqua currently has 10 full-time employees, who benefit from Aqua’s team-based pay compensation system that allows them to share in the company’s profits through a unique business model implemented by Cordova Papa last year.

WEV also honored Hudson Institute of Coaching as Volunteer of the Year for its commitment and service to WEV.

For more than 10 years, Hudson has provided entrepreneurial coaching to push WEV clients to work at their peak capacity by identifying and developing their personal skills and assets.

For 26 years WEV has been working to help women entrepreneurs to succeed.

“Women’s business ownership is about freedom and options, security — and human potential. It is about empowering women to dream big dreams, to act on a bigger stage, to become leaders,” said Marsha Bailey, WEV’s founder/CEO.

“The good news is that women are starting businesses at five times the national average and own 38 percent of privately held firms,” Bailey said. “Unfortunately, they start their businesses with half as much capital as their male counterparts.

"The capital gap widens as businesses grow larger. Among the largest businesses (the top 25 percent), men receive six times more capital than women," she said.

"Last year women received only 2 percent of venture capital dollars, a decline from previous years,” Bailey said.

These statistics demonstrate the importance of programs like WEV.

In addition to educational programs that build skills and confidence to help women business owners, WEV has made $4 million in small-business loans and plans to increase its lending to $1 million per year within the next three years.

Guests at the event interacted with featured WEV clients, who shared their experiences as entrepreneurs and how their businesses have evolved with the support of WEV’S programs.

Major sponsors of the 2017 Empowerment is Priceless: Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray LLP, Pacific Western Bank, JP Morgan Chase & Co., La Arcada Plaza, Lee & Associates-LA North/Ventura, Montecito Bank & Trust, Rabobank, N.A., Union Bank.

All proceeds raised will directly benefit client programs in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties including Smart Entrepreneurial Training, Thrive in Five®, WEV en Español and the WEV Loan Program.

To learn more about Women’s Economic Ventures, visit www.wevonline.org.

— Danelle Coyle for Women’s Economic Ventures.

 

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