Micro makes macro impact

Wendy Baumann


Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. (WWBIC)

Offices: Milwaukee, Madison, Racine and Kenosha


Wendy Baumann, president of the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. (WWBIC), discusses the role that micro-lending can play in economic development, particularly in economically challenged areas.

“Anyone who creates a job today should be recognized as a true hero. In Milwaukee and Wisconsin, there are many small business owners doing just that. Micro businesses or micro enterprises (generally defined as one to five employees, including the owner) are the target market served by The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. (WWBIC).

“WWBIC is a statewide economic development corporation providing quality business and financial education, coupled with access to fair capital. We focus on business and job creation, retention and sustainability.

“In 2010, WWBIC approved 103 microloans totaling over $3 million to small business owners. When we analyze and track jobs created and retained, we find on average each of these ‘micro’ businesses creates 2.7 new jobs and retains up to five jobs.

“Micro lending serves a unique role in the economic development of a community. Often our clients find it difficult, if not impossible, to secure loans from financial institutions, particularly smaller loans (under $50,000) needed to capitalize a micro enterprise.

“Recent statistics from a FIELD (a program of the Aspen Institute) study on low-income entrepreneurs show: 72 percent of low-income entrepreneurs experienced gains in household income over five years; more than half – 53 percent – of low-income entrepreneurs had household gains large enough to move out of poverty; among those microentrepreneurs who left poverty, the small business was a major source of household income.

“Microenterprise is a major driver of Wisconsin’s economy and accounts for 14.5 percent of all employment statewide. Microenterprise creates significant income for individuals and families and often becomes a source of self-sufficiency. It is both a proven poverty-alleviating strategy, and an economic development strategy.”

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