2022 Grants Challenge

SHE-RO: South LA Women Rising

Every year, VSEDC will support 150 underserved, minority, BIPOC women entrepreneurs and small business owners in South Los Angeles with the vital resources they need to become and remain competitive in the post-pandemic economy. Through individualized technical assistance, webinars, and a success pathway, women will incorporate balance into their lives of running a business, managing a home life with a family, and finding internal peace. Classes will be led by Dr. Karen L. Semien-McBride, an industry veteran in organizational leadership.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

BIPOC- and Women-Owned Businesses

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

South LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

In South Los Angeles (SLA), 29% of residents live below the poverty line as compared to 12.6% in California. In line with this abysmal statistic, only 13% of SLA residents possess a Bachelor's Degree as compared to 36% in Ls County. What this depicts is that high levels of poverty and low educational attainment are typically inherited. Minority women in South LA are uniquely impacted because they also bear the responsibility of managing children and home life. Employment opportunities in South LA for women include low-wage service jobs that often pay "under the table." For minority women who do not speak English opportunities are especially limited. This is a gross injustice for women in South LA. Even though they may have the skills, talent, and ideas to accomplish professional feats, their opportunities are limited. VSEDC seeks to address these roadblocks for women by developing a manageable and tactical process for women to start their own businesses or attain higher-wage jobs.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

VSEDC presents "SHE-RO: South LA Women Rising," a dedicated workforce development tract for women led by Organizational Leadership veteran Dr. Karen Semien-McBride. VSEDC will outreach to women entrepreneurs and small business owners to enroll them into this unique business tract. Covered topics during the 3-6 webinars will include: How to start your business, Budgeting and Financing, Finding a Balanced Life, Contracts Procurement, Technology and Business, Running a Business After the Pandemic, and Negotiating a Deal. Additionally, women will have access to individualized, one-on-one technical assistance from one of VSEDC's highly-experienced business coaches and consultants who will offer a tailored business action plan. For those women who wish to access capital for their startups or solo enterprises, they can become loan-ready and eventually apply for a microloan - from $5k-$50k - from VSEDC's Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). As one of the only CDFIs serving the underrepresented community of South LA, VSEDC has supported 30k entrepreneurs to access more than $350 million of capital over the past forty years. In 2022, VSEDC will deploy $1.2 million in loans to small business owners and entrepreneurs in South LA, approximately 60% of which will go to women-owned enterprises. Through our efforts, we are directly addressing the racial and social inequalities that have existed in South LA for decades. By providing opportunities, VSEDC will uplift women.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

VSEDC imagines a workforce where minority women hold living wage jobs, are increasingly educated, possess a wide range of skills (e.g. budgeting and financing, talent management, marketing), and are poised to grow their businesses - all unencumbered by their ethnic, social, or economic conditions. As an overlay, women deserve to accomplish their professional goals and have a healthy, balanced home life. Women are capable business leaders, groundbreaking researchers, and solid contributors to the workforce. As such, their skills will be nurtured with VSEDC's program tailored for women. Unfortunately, many women currently occupy low-wage service jobs with little or no room to grow or break through. Our work will impact women throughout Southern California by preparing a larger talent pool to perform its jobs, especially at the heels of the 2028 Olympics that will see a significant surge of contract jobs in the region.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

VSEDC will track the following metrics: 1) How many minority women enrolled for the "SHE-RO: South LA Women Rising" tract. 2) How many webinars were offered and what was the attendance 3) How many hours of technical assistance were provided VSEDC will track success by: 1) How many jobs for women were created or retained 2) How many businesses were started or grew 3) How many women entrepreneurs and small business owners applied for a CDFI loan and how many were awarded VSEDC will survey each process and aspect of the program and record its data in the Salesforce CRM. As VSEDC is a proud awardee of the City of LA BusinessSource Center contracts in South LA and Watts, our resources avail us to record and store success metrics.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 400

Indirect Impact: 1,000