WHILE another cohort completes their final session with the Women Entrepreneurs Project, the CNMI Women’s Association encourages other women to take advantage of the program.
The pilot project is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act and started earlier this year.
“We undertake this project to encourage and empower women to become entrepreneurs… This is an initiative that we hope to sustain over the long term,” CWA contractor Roxanne Diaz said in an interview with Variety.
She said once ARPA funds are depleted, alternative sources of funding will be needed to sustain the project.
In the meantime, CWA expects to be able to conduct training for at least two to three additional cohorts.
“It’s our goal here [provide] a place where they can pursue their goals and dreams and start a business,” said Diaz. “We’re networking with different entities and local business owners to really give them what they need, not just to create a safe place to grow, but to really address common barriers… Through the different training courses that we run… we We are now training our entrepreneurs not only to have a business plan, but also to know that they are not alone.”
Guest speakers and project collaborators include John Z. Arroyo, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Saipan, who addressed women entrepreneurs at the Women’s Center last week.
Arroyo is also the grant manager of Building Optimism, Opportunities, and Stability Together, or BOOST.
CWA is also a partner of the CNMI Small Business Development Center Network and the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority.
Through these partnerships, women entrepreneurs learned about available funding sources, how to set up and sustain their businesses, and other relevant information for existing or future businesses.
“This women’s center is for everyone,” Diaz said. “We hope that we can give more people access to the center. We are here to help, but also to empower and encourage, especially our women, to pursue their business or their dreams and goals through business.”
The center is aimed at prospective and existing entrepreneurs from all sectors.
“We have a large number of companies or entrepreneurs here. We have people here who work in the food industry. We have people who have started businesses. We have students doing business. We even have some women who are web developers, work in consulting or provide professional services. There are several participants who actually have a job and are now pursuing their own business on the side or even full-time,” said Diaz.
“It’s a pilot project. We have a long way to go to educate our community about the economics of things and that the economy really is run by small engines and small businesses. We can’t rely on just one big fish; We need a lot of different fish, and we hope that through the CNMI Women’s Association and this initiative, we can teach our people to fish by possessing them, but also feeding ourselves long-term,” added Diaz.
The Women Entrepreneurs Project is an initiative of the CNMI Women’s Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2011.