We spoke exclusively with Donna Rebisz, Project Director at Women’s Business Center of New York State, part of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
She told us all about her work in getting women entrepreneurs the resources they need to succeed in business. You can catch our full interview below.
House Tipster Industry: Can you tell us a bit about the Women’s Business Center, and what your own work there entails?
Donna L. Rebisz: In 1988, the U. S. Small Business Administration wanted to help women who were facing discrimination from suppliers and their families by starting the first 4 Women’s Business Centers. This year the Women’s Business Centers are celebrating 30 years with over 114 centers throughout the United States and its territories. Women’s Business Centers are funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Women’s Business Center of New York State was established in 2001 to assist women in a variety of business skills and ongoing technical assistance. We can help women start a business, grow an established business, generate sustainable profits, enhance [their] business, strategize for future growth, create jobs, and contribute to the growth and economic development of the community.
Since opening, the Women’s Business Center of NYS has successfully helped more than 18,500 women in upstate New York. Our WBC is committed to expanding and evolving to meet the growing needs of women entrepreneurs in upstate New York.
House Tipster Industry: What are some of the programs and resources you offer to women entrepreneurs?
Donna L. Rebisz: We provide services to women entrepreneurs at every stage of business development
Through counseling (free professional, confidential, online or at your business, short or long term based on clients’ needs); training (small business training programs, workshops, women’s conferences); and business plans (professional, customized thorough and organized.)
House Tipster Industry: What are some of your goals at the WBC — both in the long-term and right now?
Donna L. Rebisz: We are committed to expanding and evolving to meet the growing needs of women entrepreneurs in our region. Our long-term goal and right now is to assist women in opening, expanding and growing their business; provide education and training services.
House Tipster Industry: What are some of your proudest achievements at the WBC, and can you tell us about what went into making them happen?
Donna L. Rebisz: Our proudest achievements at the WBC are watching our clients cut the ribbon and open their own small business. What went into making this happen, a lot of training, business planning, financial planning and hand holding to get their business doors opened.
House Tipster Industry: What are some of the biggest obstacles that you see women entrepreneurs face when starting their businesses?
Donna L. Rebisz: Some of the biggest obstacles that we see facing women entrepreneurs are access to capital, finding the money to start their business. Also balancing their families, home life and business; women wear many hats and they have to find the right balance to juggle all of these roles.
House Tipster Industry: Would you be able to pinpoint obstacles women specifically in the design space tend to face?
Donna L. Rebisz: One of the obstacles for women in the design space face is competitors. This is an emerging field and there are many competitors in this area. So women in design need to pinpoint their advertising and marketing to their specific talent. Also getting certified as a Women-owned Business will open up state and federal contracts for them.
House Tipster Industry: Are there are more opportunities for women business owners now than when you first started your career – and how does your organization’s work play into that?
Donna L. Rebisz: Yes there are many more opportunities for women business owners, such as becoming a Certified Women-Owned Business, where women can get government contracts and have state and federal governments by contract for their products or services. The percentages of businesses that need to buy for a Woman-owned Enterprise has grown from less than 5% to 30% just in New York State.
House Tipster Industry: How can women get involved in your network?
Donna L. Rebisz: Women can get involved with our WBC, which covers central New York, by calling or emailing us to make an appointment, going to our website and filling out the Contact Us form.
Our phone number is (315) 733-9848 for NYS or 1-877-9848 out of state. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: nywbc.org
To find a Women’s Business Center that covers their area they can go to sba.gov and click on Local Assistance.