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Sponsored by: TD Bank
April 25, 2022

SBA Winner: Women's Business Development Council - South Central

Women's Business Development Council - South Central
Top Executive: Kenyétta Banks, Program Manager, South Central
Headquarters: New Haven
More Information

Category Winner: Women’s Business Center of Excellence

Q&A talks with the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC), a nonprofit that provides tools and resources to help women start or grow businesses. This award recognizes the WBDC’s south central office in New Haven.

How and when was your organization started?

The WBDC was founded 25 years ago by CEO Fran Pastore. She was a recently divorced mother of two young girls when she learned that Connecticut was one of the very few states that didn’t have a resource to support women entrepreneurs. WBDC began in Stamford.

What services does your organization provide?

We provide classes and advising to entrepreneurs in topics ranging from finance and marketing to HR and logistics.

Describe your target customer.

WBDC serves entrepreneurs at all stages — from ideation to start up to growth and even exit planning. Despite the name of the organization, our programs and services are available to men and women.

What has been your biggest accomplishment?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, WBDC has launched the WBDC Child Care Business Support Program (a partnership with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood), which offers entrepreneurial training and grants to child care providers; and the WBDC Equity Match Grant Program, which provides grants of up to $10,000 to qualified women-owned businesses.

How have you handled strategic change in your organization?

In March 2020, the need for WBDC’s services had never been stronger. We pivoted overnight, operating 100% via Zoom — a tool that we had never used. In those first months of the pandemic, our client base grew by more than 650%.

We temporarily put aside “traditional” classes to make room for town halls with elected officials to get accurate information to our clients, and group support sessions for small business owners.

Our advisors jammed their calendars with meetings with entrepreneurs trying to figure out how to stay in business when they couldn’t open their doors.