Impact

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: Milwaukee Blacksmith

December's ‘Investment in Impact’ is:  Milwaukee Blacksmith

This month WWBIC surprised Shannon, Kent, Zoe & Oscar Knapp owners of Milwaukee Blacksmith. Kent's passion for the age old tradition of Blackmithing and his passion for Milwaukee and it's architecture led the Knapp family to launch a family business venture 10 years ago. From public art installations to private homes and commersial spaces Milwaukee Blacksmith offers their stamp on the handcrafted iron archetecture that the city was built upon. >/p>

With support from WWBIC, Shannon took business planning courses and the Knapp's worked with WWBIC to secure a Kiva Loan. Since, opening this passionate family has grown the business beyond traditional iron installations now offering classes in their 'School of Iron' as well as jewlery and home decor items.

Recently, the Knapps created the iconic iron clover statue that welcomed attendees to the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills.Click for more reveals >>


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

 

WWBIC Founders (Julia Taylor, Marty Stein, Harry Franke, Margie Lund, Judy Drinka & Nancy Noeske)

Our story begins with a field trip led by Julia Taylor (at the time the Executive Director of the YWCA of Greater Milwaukee) to WomenVenture in Minneapolis. There in Minnesota more than 30 years ago, they witnessed a unique economic development center run exclusively by women - women of color - that engaged very low-income women in an entrepreneurial educational program coupled with the promise of a small microloan. This forerunner model was active even before Dr. Mohammed Yunus was on the scene in microlending! Full of inspiration to create something similar in Milwaukee, the founders launched a new, independent 501(c)3 - The Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation, now known as WWBIC.

Early on, Marty Stein and Harry Franke used their leverage to provide support and became strong WWBIC advocates. Nancy Noeske of WE Energies grounded WWBIC with early corporate support. All of the founders, plus many other advocates, provided support in many ways: Time, Talent and Treasure. For example, when President/CVO Wendy Baumann joined WWBIC in 1994, she recalls traveling with Margie Lund to Chicago for introductions to a Women's Business Center there.

While Marty, Harry and Nancy are no longer with us - Julia Taylor (now at the Greater Milwaukee Committee) continues to see how WWBIC has developed into a larger, robust organization that works every day to advance the collective work needed in Greater Milwaukee and our State.

WWBIC Team

Our motto at WWBIC is - Teamwork Makes the Dream Work! We rarely speak of the individuals at WWBIC; rather it is truly a team effort as we drive toward our mission and impact.

WWBIC's statewide team of nearly 50 members advances our work in full - whether our staff has internal or external customers, we strive every day to provide an exemplary customer experience. Our work continues from early morning meetings to evening classes; from weekend outreach presentations to loan closings after the shop doors are shut. We are active in our communities - from Milwaukee to Marathon to Washington DC to global engagement. What binds us together is our care and commitment to improving the financial well-being of those we work with. It's hard work. It's meaningful work.

While WWBIC continues to grow and welcome new team members, we are also proud of the seasoned team that has chosen to work at WWBIC for many, many years. More than 16 individuals have been with WWBIC for more than five years. And a few have helped WWBIC grow nearly from the ground up, passing the 20 year mark: President Wendy Baumann will soon be celebrating her 24th anniversary and VP Julann Jatczak is in her 22nd year.

Each year WWBIC hosts hundreds of visitors at our offices: elected officials, international delegations, area leaders, financial institutions, academia, philanthropists, foundations, funders, economic development colleagues, learning exchanges, and more. After touring our offices and engaging in discussion, there is one resounding sentiment that is consistent from all of our guests. They marvel at our team - professionalism, expertise, care and compassion.

Pro Bono Legal Support,  (Godfrey & Kahn, Foley & Lardner LLP, Quarles & Brady)

Godfrey & Kahn has provided WWBIC with a wonderful resource in Kristin Roeper.  Kristin's active participation on WWBIC’s Loan Committee and continued review of loan files/documentation, from new loan agreements and loan funds to the securitization of gold coins and livestock as collateral have made her work is invaluable!  Kristin even helped secure a WWBIC internship for her daughter Sydney!

For decades, Quarles and Brady has provided WWBIC supportive legal services – from WWBIC’s first externship of a young professional actually having office hours at WWBIC, to the continued review of loan file documentation and legal questions on loan closings and related modifications. Melissa McCord, a new partner at Quarles and Brady is our WWBIC champion along with long-term support and care from Liz Orelup.

Ed Hammond, Andy Wronski and Matt Lee from Foley & Lardner have provided continued talent and time to WWBIC for more than a decade. Ed Hammond's support allowed WWBIC to create an offering for accredited investors to invest in WWBIC’s Opportunity Loan Fund. Andy Wronski provided and continues to guide WWBIC on loan modifications and related support in positioning WWBIC loans and related processes. New support has been well-received through Foley’s Madison offices with targeted work on loan credits provided by Matt Lee.

Statewide CDBG Programs

THANK you our local Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) offices and teams! You have provided great support individually and collectively to WWBIC since our inception 30 years ago.  These essential funds have allowed WWBIC to be innovative in programming and methodology, while still staying true to our mission.

Collectively you all have supported the many – from the pickle man in West Allis, the bakery in Kenosha, the Community Based Residential Facility in greater Milwaukee, the car mechanic in Racine, the fine cheese shop in Wauwatosa, the popcorn business in Waukesha, the childcare facility in Dane County to the restaurant in Madison and more.  For this we thank you for believing and investing in WWBIC's impact.  You all are part of the 30 faces of WWBIC.

HACM

Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM)  

HACM – Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee – a longstanding WWBIC partner and supporter for decades!

WWBIC and HACM have truly partnered over the past decades through financial capability initiatives and entrepreneurial endeavors. The Make Your Money Talk financial educational program along with Individual Development Accounts working with residents of public housing now shares success of over 1,300 graduates from the series. This initiative has changed the lives of many through a sound financial educational program coupled with one on one financial coaching and long-term support of individuals changing their spending and savings behaviors and ultimately their attitudes and ways about money and finance. Now they are home owners(168 homeowners) – Now they are back at school (102 clients) – Now they are business owners(101 clients) – a powerful program.

In 2016 WWBIC was included as a partner in the City of Milwaukee and HACM’s Milwaukee Choice Neighborhood Award and will provide support for a new $1.5 million loan fund targeting micro and small businesses in the WestLawn Community. This $30 million development will not only provide a significant upgrade of parts of WestLawn housing development it includes support of the adjacent commercial district, support of educational initiatives and strong support and inclusion of residents within the community.

HACM continues to be a place of supporting micro and small business development through their contracting and procurement as well as hosting WWBIC and other organizations entrepreneurial educational programs. HACM meetings, gatherings, Annual Events are a showcase of foods and beverages and services from micro and small businesses.

HACM Team members including Executive Director Antonio M. Pérez, Bobbi Marsells, Ken Barbeau, Maria Rodriguez and Paul Williams have worked with the WWBIC team in seamless efforts on programs, graduations, meetings and more. HACM continues to be a national and global leader in integrating environmentally-sustainable technologies with modern, livable buildings, resulting in increased quality of life for residents. 94% of the recent Westlawn Gardens demolition was recycled and reused while also contracting and employing residents and MBE/WBE/DBE contractors. HACM is a “High Performer” designated by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) while providing wraparound social services including financial literacy training as well as support of the Central City Cyberschool, the Pieper-Hillside Boys and Girls Club, numerous health care clinics available for all residents within the grounds of its developments and an innovative educational initiative for both youth and adults.

We are proud to celebrate with HACM one of our 30 Faces of WWBIC !

Mike & Annette Miller

Mike & Annette Miller, 

More than twenty years ago, Annette and Mike Miller came into the WWBIC family in two ways … and have remained true WWBIC colleagues ever since. Mike had the entrepreneurial dream of owning a restaurant, and his wife Annette was working in various roles in State and City of Madison government. Mike participated in WWBIC’s Start Smart business planning course (often with Annette, too) and later obtained a WWBIC loan to start s restaurant offering both sit down and catering services.

The WWBIC Team enjoyed the food and utilized their catering many times through the years while Annette began serving on WWBIC’s South Central Advisory Council. After many years in the restaurant biz, Mike decided to close and take on a public servant position – as a program officer with the City of Madison’s Community Development division. By then, Annette had joined Madison Gas & Electric as the Director of Emerging Markets and Community Development. Through their roles, the Millers knew firsthand how the services of WWBIC could benefit start-ups, women and entrepreneurs of color. Their dedication never waivers: WWBIC President Wendy Baumann remembers one time Annette had broken her leg but invited Wendy to her home to meet anyway! Important work carries on.

Today, they have different positions (Annette is now the entrepreneur in the family!), but they continue to share that common vision with WWBIC … working collaboratively toward making our community a more prosperous and just place for all people. Annette and Mike are genuine ambassadors – supporters – and partners in putting dreams to work. We are proud to include them as part of WWBIC’s 30 Faces of Impact!

Northern Trust

Northern Trust:  Deborah Kasemeyer

Deborah Kasemeyer is not simply working for a financial institution … she is an integral part of the CDFI industry and a long-term supporter of WWBIC and our work. More than a decade ago, Debby stopped by WWBIC’s old offices on Dr. MLK Drive and saw possibilities. WWBIC was smaller yet growing into becoming a leading CDFI. She immediately provided Northern Trust’s support toWWBIC with both annual grant support and an investment in WWBIC's Loan Opportunity Fund. A few years later, Northern Trust provided another Equity Equivalent Investment. Flash forward one year when WWBIC was formally certified through the CDFI industry’s AERIS Rating (a rating for CDFIs similar to financial institutions’ CAMEL rating); Debby and her associates saw such great value in that process that Northern Trust became WWBIC's first million dollar investor!

More than annual site visits and approving grant support and investments, Debby worked with WWBIC's social business venture – Coffee With A Conscience® -- through the Northern Trust online portal and presence. She continues to connect WWBIC with leads and resources, has hosted meetings, incorporates WWBIC on panels and discussions, and invited Wendy Baumann to serve on the Northern Trust New Market Tax Credit Advisory Board. Thank you to a great advocate for Wisconsin small business!

Sue Noble

Sue Noble, Executive Director - Vernon Economic Development Association

Sue Noble, Executive Director of the Vernon Economic Development Association based in Viroqua, has dedicated her career to ensuring that rural entrepreneurs have the opportunity and resources needed for business success. As a friend of WWBIC for nearly 20 years, we have worked together on advancing business development initiatives in some of Wisconsin's most distressed counties. Sue has spearheaded efforts to foster community enterprise facilitation techniques, to create robust regional food systems, and to help launch a statewide network of local "Inventors & Entrepreneurs" Clubs. Sue has received recognition for her efforts, including an American “ Rural Champion of Change” honor. It is not only Sue’s talent and energy that help ignite rural economic development, it is also her deep understanding of the ecosystem and her true care for people. That’s what makes her a WWBIC hero!

Rosenbergs

Jack (in Memory) and Lucy Rosenberg, Rosenberg Opportunity Fund

"To create more African American business owners who will give their children pride and motivation to attend school and learn so that they , too, can be bosses and productive citizens and have HOPE in the future. In societies through history when the economic separation of the lower classes from the upper classes gets too great it leads to trouble for the upper class. Revolt, riots, even revolution. This will happen here if this separation reaches a critical stage. There will always be different economic classes, the critical issue is not the level of our lower class...but the degree of separation." - Jack Rosenberg (1924 - 2008)

Jack Rosenberg wrote this and then worked along with WWBIC for years investing his own private capital into Milwaukee area African American businesses to make this vision a reality. To date nearly 120 businesses have been funded totaling $2.25 million by the Rosenberg Opportunity fund. Today, Lucy Rosenberg remains a dedicated advocate approving new loans within this fund with WWBIC! From auto parts stores, to barber shops, to lamp repair services and cleaning businesses and fashion stores - Jack not only provided his capital investment - he provided his time and talent and mentored and worked with these business owners over the years.

 

US SBA

U.S. Small Business Administration, Wisconsin Office - Mary Trimmier, Eric Ness

Nearly 20 years ago, WWBIC President Wendy Baumann had the opportunity to help secure a manager to lead and advance women in business and micro lending support programs. A true small business champion, Mary Trimmier has always gone above and beyond in her government position. She supports WWBIC in full - attending and participating in WWBIC events - luncheons - celebrations - educational training - graduations and VIP visits. Mary formally reviews WWBIC's SBA funded Women's Business Centers and SBA Microloan Programs and with grace and tact provides insight and transfers key information to and from WWBIC with the national SBA offices.

Along with Mary, Eric Ness, SBA District Director for Wisconsin and Interim SBA Regional Director, has proven a key WWBIC partner too. For approximately 15 years Eric has led Wisconsin SBA's District Offices and kept WWBIC in the fold of new initiatives, programs and events - always incorporating WWBIC from AARP programing, to new programs serving Veterans to Innovation Awards. Eric not only has the respect of the state he is often tapped by the SBA Washington Offices in sharing how to collaboratively work and lead along with SBA partner organizations such as WWBIC. We salute SBA's Mary Trimmier and Eric Ness!

Mike Ward, Regional Sales Manager - US Bank

Mike Ward has been a longstanding WWBIC Volunteer for more than a decade. Mike's passion for entrepreneurship and business development in Wisconsin is evident through the countless WWBIC trainings he's led and the mentorship he's provided to fledgling business owners. US Bank remains one of the strongest referral sources of any financial institution and is actively engaged in our work. Mike never says no - he is always willing to go the extra mile. He always makes himself and his team readily available to support WWBIC's work and mission. Mike, we thank you!

Godwin Amegashie, Retired - State of Wisconsin Deptartment of Administration

Godwin Amegashie became part of the WWBIC family when he was employed in the banking industry more than two decades ago. Through different career roles, he has always remained a strong WWBIC supporter and advocate. Godwin served on WWBIC's Board for nearly ten years and remains on WWBIC's South Central Advisory Council. Through his position at the Wisconsin Department of Administration, he helped advance WWBIC's procurement initiatives. In Godwin's many professional and community roles, his passion for entrepreneurship and small business development has always shined brightly. Recently retired, Godwin reached out again to WWBIC sharing he would be there for us - a lifelong supporter and really one of WWBIC's positive godfathers!

Bader Philanthropies

WWBIC thanks Bader Philanthropies and the FKA Helen Bader Foundation for over two decades of support and investments in WWBIC's impact! Through Dan Bader and for many years Kathryn Dunn and now Jerry Roberts, WWBIC has been a longstanding partner and ally with the generous support and dedication to economic development from Bader Philanthropies.

While significant financial support has been awarded to WWBIC throughout the many years for targeted business assistance, entrepreneurial and business educational programming, and financial awareness education, the Foundation also provided one of WWBIC’s first Program Related Investments (PRIs) now often termed Impact Investing. Time, Talent and Treasure - Bader Philanthropies has been one of WWBIC’s strong supporter and we thank the family and the foundation.

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 Furniture.com 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.

KIVA

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).

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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!

 

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ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN'S BUSINESS CENTERS - AWBC

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.

WENDY K. BAUMANN, President/CVO - WWBIC

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.