Written by Ayrianne Parks and Sam Rapoza
The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, (WWBIC) is a long time member of the Friends of the SBA Microloan Program, based in Wisconsin. WWBIC helps individuals who face barriers that keep them from getting the funding needed to start or keep their business running. On Sunday, Wendy K. Baumann, WWBIC President and CVO, was honored as the recipient of the 2017 Jody C. Raskind Lender Award, which was presented in Washington, D.C. by SBA Administrator Linda McMahon.
The Jody C. Raskind Lender Award is annual SBA Award presented to “a mission-focused lender that has distinguished itself in helping small businesses start, grow and expand.” Stephanie Smokovich is a prime example of how WWBIC has helped small businesswomen fulfill their entrepreneurial goals.
Stephanie Smokovich is an entrepreneur based in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, where she owns and operates Bella Blvd. Bella Blvd is a scrapbooking and memory preservation business that Stephanie started in 2008, after spending 20 years as a graphic designer. She came up with the name of her shop, Bella Blvd, based on previous travel experiences and her Italian heritage.
Stephanie says the shop “combines creative inspiration, a love for scrapbooking and design knowledge to offer awesome paper goods for scrapbooking, paper crafting and more.”
Stephanie’s idea was a success and, with an exponentially growing business, she needed more help around her studio. As a result, Stephanie reached out to WWBIC for assistance. WWBIC provided her with the opportunity to take one-on-one technical assistance and small business classes at their center. The classes allowed Stephanie to better understand what was necessary to expand her business portfolio. With that knowledge, Stephanie was able to secure a loan from WWBIC. This loan allowed her to create eight new full time jobs. By hiring more people Stephanie is now able to fully and successfully meet the increased business her studio attracts.
The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, (WWBIC), works within Wisconsin to help fund economic development they are “Putting Dreams to Work”.