WWBIC Celebrates 30 Years of 'Putting Dreams to Work'

WWBIC is celebrating 30 years of of impact in 2017 with monthly ‘Investments in Impact’ to 12 Wisconsin Small Businesses. Business owners will be surprised with a $1,000 investment from WWBIC made possible through the generosity of Northern Trust. These contributions are an investment in the impact that small business owners make every day in the state of Wisconsin.

A new investment will be announced on the 30th of each month demonstrating the commitment WWBIC has made over the past 30 years to entrepreneurship in the state of Wisconsin. Also revealed as part of the celebration will be the '30 Faces of WWBIC.' Take a journey through history as WWBIC demonstrates appreciation for the people behind the mission.

#WWBIC30th SURPRISE: Voluptuous Secrets


​June’s ‘Investment in Impact’ is:  Voluptuous Secrets

This month WWBIC surprised Theresa Gazdik, owner of Voluptuous Secrets in Milwaukee. Voluptuous Secrets offers undergarments & lingerie for full-f-gured women. This little shop has been tucked away on MLK Drive for nearly 15 years - WWBIC was there at the start. With educational and financial support from WWBIC, Theresa has sustained and grown her retail store for over a decade during some of the most challenging economic times in our country. Theresa's passion for small business is infectious. She is a steadfast WWBIC advocate, and loves to share her words of wisdom with fledgling WWBIC business owners as a guest speaker during WWBIC events.

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30 Faces of WWBIC:  

We are proud to celebrate 30 long-standing WWBIC champions. These individuals and organizations have remained advocates, supporters, and friends. Their stories, work, and support are integral to the work we do each day.

Citlali Mendieta-Ramos, Owner - Antigua Latin Inspired Kitchen

Citlali Mendieta-Ramos grew up at her dad's restaurant, Rey Sol, on Milwaukee's South Side. It became her dream to raise her family the same way. With the help of the WWBIC, she owns and operates her own fine dining establishment, Antigua Latin-Inspired Kitchen, which opened in West Allis in 2006. With assistance and a loan from WWBIC, as well as the support of husband Chef Nicolas Ramos, Citlali has created seventeen new jobs, and has expanded services to offer full-service offsite catering. Citlali is a community leader taking active roles on WWBIC advisory councils and various board of director positions. She continues to lend her expertise as a facilitator, volunteer, and advocate for women & Latinas in small business!


Mike McDonagh, Mallory & Zimmerman, SC

Mike McDonagh has been a supporter of WWBIC for over 25 years! He initially served on WWBIC's Loan Committee and then joined the WWBIC Board in 1994. Mike has served as WWBIC's Loan Committee Chair, Board Secretary, Vice President and is the current Board Chair. Mike was nominated by WWBIC some twenty years ago as the SBA Legal Counsel of the Year and received this honor. Mike has provided extensive pro-bono legal support and has worked with WWBIC's President and leadership team to advance strong lending practices, provide legal opinions, and strategic plan development. Mike is more than a WWBIC Board member - he is part of our WWBIC Team!


WEDC - Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is the state of Wisconsin's economic development arm. Economic development thrives in an environment of collaboration, and WWBIC serves as a key strategic partner. WEDC has provided support to WWBIC through micro and small businesses start-ups and expansion across Wisconsin. WEDC and WWBIC continue to strive to advance creative and innovative partnerships together (Women in Business, Rural Business support, KIVA).


George Mosher

In 1975 George Mosher and his wife Julie started National Business Furniture, which focused on selling furniture to businesses via catalog.  After the dot com boom faded, NBF bought Office and Furniture Online. Sales for NBF and the other companies combined grew to $125 million dollars. National Business Furniture was profitable from its first year and never had a losing year. In January 2006, National Business Furniture was purchased by K&K America.

George Mosher came to WWBIC with the idea to invest in microcredit. When he experienced WWBIC's work – he decided to invest. In addition to financial support, George has invested his keen insight including working with WWBIC leadership to create an offering for Accredited Investors. George continues to advocate for WWBIC and the microcredit industry.  Beyond WWBIC, George has focused on making venture investments and has made more than 150 angel-type investments.


Ugo Nwagbaraocha, Owner - Diamond Discs International

As a SBE, SBA 8(a), MBE, DBE, and SDB-certified business founded in 2007, Diamond Discs International provides diamond-edged cutting tools in the both the US and abroad.  Company President, Ugo Nwagbaraocha, first turned to WWBIC for loan capital to buy this business. Diamond Discs International has doubled its size since 2014.   Ugo is deeply invested in the Milwaukee community.  He sits on the Board of Directors for many important Wisconsin organizations including: MMAC, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the Better Business Bureau and the National Association of Minority Contractors-Wisconsin and the Scale-Up Milwaukee Executive Committee.  In addition, he is an active member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee and Chairman of The Business Council.

Awards include the receiving the MMAC Future 50 Award designation twice, SBA Emerging Small Business Person, State of Wisconsin Governor’s Outstanding Small Business, The Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Inner City Business Award, and many more. Ugo and Diamond Discs are clearly making an immense impact in the local community. A firm believer in remembering your roots, Ugo remains a staunch adovocate, he thanks WWBIC for providing that neecessary capital to start at nearly every meeting. Ugo has now turned from borrower to investor supporting WWBIC through sponsorships for events.  In 2017, Ugo plans to also move his operation into the heart of Milwaukee’s near Southside and may turn back to WWBIC for continued support.


After learning about KIVA at the Global Microcredit Summit, WWBIC approached the City of Milwaukee to gauge interest in making Milwaukee one of the first KIVA Cities!  Mayor Barrett was onboard and shared the plan in a State of the City Address.   Martha Brown, Deputy Commissioner for the City of Milwaukee's Department of City Development worked along with Wendy Baumann, WWBIC President to raise the funds to bring KIVA to town!  Jonny Price, Sr. Director at Kiva flew in to share in the launch of the online crowd sourcing platform dedicated to microloans and collectively WWBIC & the City of Milwaukee invited many other locally-based economic development partners to the table!

KIVA launched in Milwaukee (10th KIVA City in the nation) in February 2015 and to date through the support of the City of Milwaukee, WWBIC and over 52 Trustees have provided direct crowd sourced KIVA Loans at 0% interest to 190 individual businesses in Wisconsin – most right in the heart of Milwaukee (total loans combined over $1 million).


Dave Glenn, Retired - Professional Volunteer

Dave Glenn has been a consummate volunteer for many, many organizations in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. He'sprovided direct volunteer support to WWBIC for decades. Most recently, he has used his skills and experience to provide support for the infrastructure of volunteer programs and initiatives at WWBIC. Dave filled in so frequently during the development and coordination of WWBIC’s original client tracking software program - he almost became a staff member! He later continued to provide outside guidance in transitioning to a new database and data collection platform. Always a standard supporter at WWBIC’s event at the Governor’s Executive Residence, Capitol and the Annual WWBIC Luncheon – Dave is willing to take on any role, big or small with ease and grace. Dave continues to support our programs & services today. We honor him & his tireless work, during national volunteer month!

Laurie Benson, CEO - LSB Unlimited

Laurie Benson came to WWBIC by pushing in the door! While at a meeting in New York to advance growing women-owned businesses past the million dollar mark – someone asked if she knew of WWBIC in Wisconsin – she did not. And in less than a year WWBIC managed and directed the first Make Mine a Million statewide gathering in Madison, Wisconsin. From then on, Laurie became active as both a WWBIC volunteer and supporter. Being the connector Laurie is in life she leveraged many contacts to and for WWBIC and was asked to serve on WWBIC’s Board of Directors. Throughout the years Laurie has been part of WWBIC’s fabric.


RAY FORGIANNI, President - Kenosha Common Markets, Inc.

Ray Forgianni met with WWBIC leaders when he was with the City of Kenosha and Director of City Development. He saw the value of having WWBIC support entrepreneurs and business owners in Kenosha and has remained an active and staunch supporter of WWBIC. Ray has served not only on WWBIC’s Southeast Ambassadorial Advisory Council for many years, but also on WWBIC’s Loan Committee. His strong belief in the mission of WWBIC is obvious through his many client referrals. Ray procures products, services, and business transitions through WWBIC supported businesses. A powerful partner, Ray has brought WWBIC into numerous collaborative groupings in the southeast and Kenosha markets including the development of a shared commercial kitchen and potential public market.


KARIN GALE, CPA, Shareholder - Schneck, SC

Karin Gale was recommended to serve on WWBIC’s Finance and Audit Committee by then WWBIC board member Gail Hanson. She immediately added experience and insight on the Committee. Her advice was so valuable she soon became a WWBIC Board Member. Karin has been an asset to both groups for the past 10 years, serving as Board Treasurer and now Board Vice President. Karin has continued to provide her insight to WWBIC including aligning United Way program support and targeted place based support in West Allis and other communities. Karin has been one of WWBIC’s longest and strongest advisors.


JESSIE CANNIZZARO, Owner - Milestone Plumbing

Following in her father’s footsteps, Jessie Cannizzaro is a journeyman plumber with an MBA. With support from WWBIC she launched her business Milestone Plumbing in 2011. Since its inception, Milestone Plumbing has grown tremendously due in large part to Jessie’s passion and thoughtful planning. She has participated in WWBIC’s educational programs as both student and teacher – sharing words of wisdom with fledgling entrepreneurs. Jessie remains an avid supporter of WWBIC’s mission and work in Wisconsin. Jessie has grown from borrower and student, to teacher, advocate and friend. We salute you!




The Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) did not exist when WWBIC was founded in 1987. It was created by many strong leaders of our nation’s Women’s Business Centers. In addition to Wendy Baumann and WWBIC as a founding member, Ellen Golden (Maine), Agnes Noonan (New Mexico), and Andrea Silbert (Massachusetts) all sat around the table to create this association to advance policy, increase resources, and refine legislation to advance such Women’s Business Centers. WWBIC was extremely proud to host in Milwaukee the 2016 National Gathering of AWBC and supporters with over 350 in attendance - hosting then US Cabinet Member, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. WWBIC is not only at the forefront of economic development in Wisconsin, but also a leader in advancing infrastructure in the industry.


In her 23rd year at the helm of WWBIC, Wendy is a nationally-recognized leader in microenterprise, small business development, financial capability and social enterprise. In her long and rich career, Wendy has focused on advancing opportunities for women, racial minorities and lower-wealth individuals. She has pioneered business incubation, capital access programming, financial capability and economic literacy initiatives in Wisconsin. With her leadership and vision, WWBIC has grown from a $200,000 budget with a staff of two, to a $5.7 million organization with 50 staff, four regional offices, and three rural satellite offices.

Wendy’s personal mission has always been to improve the financial well-being of others. This is exemplified in her career choices and bountiful volunteer service. In addition to Wendy’s commitment to WWBIC, she led the team that launched Milwaukee as a Kiva City (now ranked 8th highest volume in US), drove development of the Milwaukee Public Market, co-founded the national Association of Women’s Business Centers, co-formed the Invest in Wisconsin CDFI partnership, and currently sits on numerous regional and national Boards. Wendy is a sought-after speaker for national and international forums, including the Global Microfinance Summit and the United Nations, with emphasis on her expertise in women’s entrepreneurship and inclusive microcredit practices. A gifted advocate and coalition builder, Wendy has tirelessly lent her business savvy, compassion and leadership skills to positively change our economic landscape.

JENNIFER RING, Managing Partner - Professional Success Partners

Jennifer Ring first came to WWBIC in 2000 as a young professional providing educational and business consulting support. She then went on to open Professional Success Partners, a consulting business of her own. Never fully leaving the WWBIC family, Jennifer continues to provide much of WWBIC's quality business and financial education throughout southeast Wisconsin. Over the years Jennifer continues to receive the top recommendations and evaluations from our WWBIC clients. We salute her for her work – her successful business and her undying support of our work at WWBIC!

WISCONSIN SBDC NETWORK - Bon Wikenheiser, Neil Lerner

WWBIC's 30 year history has been that of collaboration, alignment and true partnerships. The Small Business Development Centers network in Wisconsin, has been and continues to be one of the longest standing, key partnerships WWBIC has experienced. In addition to joint programming, continuous client referrals, joint leadership and service - WWBIC and SBDC have withstood the test of time in providing a united front to the many entrepreneurs and business owners around the state. We salute the many leaders and specifically Neil Lerner and Bon Wikenheiser leading the way today and their predecessors in the past.

KATE HILL, Owner - Heartland Information Research, Inc.

Kate Hill came to WWBIC as a budding entrepreneur with an idea to start a consulting business. In 1997, Kate opened her business becoming one of the first tenants in a joint business incubation partnership with the YWCA of Milwaukee – and Professional Dimensions which WWBIC managed. Kate continues to lead her business, now employing her husband and others. Kate Hill and her husband Don have become champions of WWBIC’s mission engaging in programming and annually supporting events (WWBIC Annual Luncheon, WWBIC Reception at the Governor’s Executive Residence/State Capitol). Kate has provided WWBIC with many resources including her time, talent and treasure.

BILL COLEMAN, President - Coleman & Williams, LTD.

Bill Coleman has served on WWBIC’s Board for nearly since 1988 serving as WWBIC’s Board Chair for the last 20. Bill has been a dedicated champion of WWBIC’s Financial Education programming (Make Your Money Talk series) and WWBIC’s match savings program for individuals residing in public housing in Milwaukee. Bill also has always demonstrated his dedication to supporting small business in Wisconsin through his patronage of WWBIC’s social business venture Coffee With A Conscience (CWAC).

GREATER MILWAUKEE FOUNDATION - Kathryn Dunn, Janel Hines, and Ellen Gilligan

WWBIC had barely incorporated in 1987 with a new and cutting edge plan – providing entrepreneurial education coupled with access to fair capital through small microloans to women, minority individuals and lower wealth individuals – when the Greater Milwaukee Foundation stepped in with the initial seed funding and support necessary. Over the past 30 years a strong partnership of support continues and has aligned in full. Not only has the Greater Milwaukee Foundation provided continual consistent funding resources & private leverage support for grants to WWBIC – GMF has provided infrastructural support with new initiatives and targeted focus areas including most recently a significant two year match allowing WWBIC to dedicated more resources in Milwaukee’s Near West Side. For 30 years – the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has been there for WWBIC.