Advice on starting your own business

About Women's Initiative:

Women represent the overwhelming majority of the poor in the U.S., as well as those in the lowest-paid sectors of our economy. And women have been hit hardest by the recession. Yet it is women who, with the start of a successful business, spend more of their increased income on their families and provide higher paying jobs and better economic development opportunities for their communities.

Which is why Women's Initiative focuses on women.

Women's Initiative for Self Employment is a Bay Area non-profit. We're also one of the largest microenterprise development organizations in the country.

For more than 20 years, we've provided low-income, high-potential women in the Bay Area with the training, financing and ongoing support to start their own businesses.

Our uniquely tailored training, financing, technical assistance, and ongoing support services in English and Spanish improve the quality of life for the women, their families and their communities.

The women who go through our program significantly increase their income and assets while launching businesses, creating jobs and stimulating the local economy.

Women's Initiative serves women throughout the Bay Area with training centers in San Francisco, Oakland, Novato, Concord and San Jose.

Women's Initiative graduates become successful business owners which enables them to improve their own lives and the lives of their families:

  • Within a year of graduation, clients' personal income jumps 75%, from an average of $14,000 a year before participating to nearly $30,000 on year after.

  • Women's Initiative clients more than triple their overall household wealth and increase their business equity six-fold an average of two years after participating in the business training course. Our graduates also improve their communities and the local economy:

  • For every $1 invested in Women's Initiative, $30 is returned to the local economy as a result of our clients paying taxes, hiring others and leaving the welfare system.

  • Most importantly, our graduates create jobs. In 2008 alone, 2.25 new jobs were created every day by Women's Initiative graduates.

  • Our graduates pay on average $16.45/hour - well above minimum wage - and focus on training and growth for their employees.

  • Our graduates start green businesses -- 76% of women served consider their businesses environmentally responsible

  • And our graduates give back to the community. Our clients volunteer 174 hours per year on average and donate over $1000/year to charitable causes. Across the board, independent businesses donate a much higher percentage of their total revenue to charitable causes than national chains do.

  • We serve low-income women throughout the Bay Area. Since our beginning in 1988, we have served more than 20,000 women.
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Victoria Bianchi
Biscotti di Bianchi
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Annie the Baker, Napa Valley:

Annie Baker is a prime example of a professional woman who finally decided to change career direction and pursue her true passion in the pastry arts.

Annie received her Accounting degree from Saint Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana and began working in large corporate financial institutions in downtown Chicago.

After ten years of "counting beans" and (more importantly) delighting a steadily increasing number of co-workers with the sweet treats she made at home, Annie ventured West and enrolled in the Pastry Arts Program at CIA Greystone for formal training.

Annie was always creative and detail-oriented, but it was then and there that she gained the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to advance from amateur home baker to professional pastry chef. Upon graduation and barely a year after dining as just another tourist at Mustards Grill in the Napa Valley.

Annie joined the Mustards kitchen team and was quickly given her own pastry station to manage and develop. As Mustards Pastry Chef, she collaborated with owner/chef Cindy Pawlcyn to create all of the wonderful and delectable desserts enjoyed by so many happy customers for over 5 years, leaving in June 2008.

'Annie the Baker' was started in April 2009 to share Annie's passion for her cookies that are for the cookie dough lover. From her hands to yours: Chef Annie the Baker brings you these chewy gooey mounds of decadent cookie goodness. Made from scratch and baked to perfection, Annie's cookies are filled with an assortment of wonderful flavors that are mildly rich, smooth and gentle. Enjoy the creative blend of tastes and textures and get ready for that silky soft tongue-teasing payoff when you hit the middle!

Sure, you could always toss a shrink-wrapped box of manufactured "cookies" into your buggy during your next grocery run. But why bother? These cookies are unlike anything you've eaten before (Annie made a point of that) - so treat yourself NOW! Let your eyes start the tasting -- but don't forget to give your mouth a bite ;-)

The cookies are slightly crispy on the outside with a moist and doughy interior. The company motto is "for the person who loves cookie dough more than the cookie."

There are four Original Cookie flavors:
  • Semi Sweet Chocolate Chunk
  • Toffee Milk Chocolate Chip
  • Peanut Butter with Mini Peanut Butter Cups
  • Oatmeal Double Chocolate Chip
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Andrea Rothman, MA, MBA
Small Business Trainer and Consultant

Andrea has been with Women's Initiative for about a year now as an small business trainer and consultant. She has an MA Economics, MBA in Marketing, owned and operated a small chain of gourmet kitchenware stores in the Bay Area worked in many retail venues in management and operations as well as being a buyer and a sales representative.

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