Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) is conducting 14-week, 56-hour Self-Employment Training (SET) programs to teach how to start, operate, or expand a business. Although targeted at women, the classes are available to men.

Participants leave the course with a complete business plan including a marketing plan, a cash flow projection, an operations plan, and a core network to help sustain the business. Taught in English or Spanish, SET covers such topics as finances, marketing and sales, public relations and advertising, legal and insurance issues, record keeping, and how to write a business plan. According to the WEV website, the fee is determined by a sliding scale based on household income.

In order to take part in the SET program, participants must attend a free one-hour orientation workshop. The dates and locations are as follows:

Santa Barbara, in English:

  • August 5, 12-1 p.m.
  • August 10, 6-7 p.m.
  • August 18, 12-1 p.m.
  • August 24, 12-1 p.m.

Santa Maria, in English:

  • August 3, 12-1 p.m.
  • August 3, 12-1 p.m.
  • August 3, 12-1 p.m.
  • August 3, 12-1 p.m.
  • August 19, 6-7 p.m.
  • August 24, 6-7 p.m.

Santa Maria, in Spanish:

  • August 11, 7-8 p.m.

Ventura, in English:

  • July 28, 6-7 p.m.
  • July 28, 6-7 p.m.
  • August 4, 12-1 p.m.
  • August 11, 12-1 p.m.
  • August 18, 6-7 p.m.
  • August 18, 6-7 p.m.

Thousand Oaks, in English:

  • August 2, 6-7 p.m.
  • August 9, 6-7 p.m.
  • August 16, 6-7 p.m.
  • August 23, 6-7 p.m.

According to Angel Cottrell, director of client services, WEV is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a just and equitable society through the economic empowerment of women. Since 1991, WEV has helped create or expand over 2000 businesses which have created or retained more than 3000 jobs locally.

For example, Nicole Schultz had a “dream” of having a children’s resale boutique. In an interview Schultz said she began the SET program in May 2009, signed for the store in August, and opened the Happy Little Hippo in October. She looks forward to her store’s first birthday and attributes much of her success to WEV’s SET classes.

“I had my ideas floating around just as a little dream, and WEV pulled my dream out of the clouds and let me hit the ground running,” she said, explaining that the program encouraged and enabled her to create a business plan.

“Investing in business education, learning how to work on your business instead of just in it, is an investment in yourself,” Cottrell said of WEV’s philosophy. Cottrell said that WEV teaches people how to adapt their business to the current economy and survive.

“Because of the economy, there’s the assumption this is a bad time to start business,” Cottrell continued. “But exactly the opposite is true. During a heavy recession, self-employment and small businesses are the ones that actually create the jobs.” Between1989 and 2009, said Cottrell, citing federal statistics, 82 percent of the net new jobs were created by businesses with 20 or fewer employees.

In a press release, WEV stated that in 2009, women-owned businesses totaled 7.2 million firms, employing 7.3 million people and generating $1.1 trillion in sales. WEV hopes to improve upon that number by providing programs and other resources to help start a business.

Interested women and men can go to WEV’s website to sign up for an orientation.


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