The Kern Women’s Business Center: Building a more equitable and inclusive economy.

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One of the most important ways to achieve inclusive growth in Kern County is by helping entrepreneurs build sustainable and profitable businesses.

The Kern Women’s Business Center is at the forefront of helping women and those facing barriers to entrepreneurship, lay a foundation to provide for themselves and their families, create jobs and strengthen our county.

Initially a satellite center of the San Luis Obispo Women’s Business Center, Kern Women’s Business Center launched in January 2021 with support from the community. 

The facility provides tremendous benefit to Kern County, sharing important information and resources to rural and underserved communities that often face barriers such as not having access to social media or the Internet. 

In addition to being a source of business news and information, the Kern Women’s Business Center also provides business start-up classes, workshops and no-cost consulting to help their clients gain the knowledge they need to turn their dreams into successful businesses.

Norma Dunn, director of Kern Women’s Business Center knows the importance of connecting with her clients and nourishing their business ideas. She also knows that the need for support can extend long after a business has been launched.

“Our clients feel more connected to the Kern Women’s Business Center because they feel safe. We have an open door policy specifically for women because we want them to feel heard. They’re entering a judgment-free zone where their business plans aren’t belittled but more so guided into a viable idea,” said Dunn.

The resources and results of the Kern Women’s Business Center have such a significant impact that they’ve even piqued the interest of men.

“While conducting our webinars and classes, we’ve even noticed an increase in male attendees!” Dunn exclaimed. 

In addition to its focus on serving female entrepreneurs, the center also assists male entrepreneurs, extending its reach to more communities and helping promote inclusive growth in Kern County. 

Assisting and supporting the business endeavors of residents in our community plays an important role in the creation of quality jobs. The B3K Prosperity Market Assessment found that while Kern County excels at launching new firms, most locally founded businesses fail to mature and create a significant volume of durable jobs. Furthermore, the B3K Entrepreneurship implementation team identified a need for more spanish speaking consultants and mentors and recommended that technical assistance providers expand their staff in this area.

By consistently guiding their clients through the entrepreneurial process and preparing them with the skills, tools and resources needed to sustain a successful business, the Kern Women’s Business Center is helping improve the longevity and sustainability of new businesses. 

The center is also helping advance inclusion and deep prosperity by bringing on bilingual business coaches to help more entrepreneurs access resources that can help them succeed.

The center launched with three Spanish-speaking coaches and has increased by 500 percent to fifteen. This increase has opened opportunities for disadvantaged communities to thrive by helping non-English speaking entrepreneurs take steps required to apply for and receive grants to support their business plans.

Fredi Castrejon, a bilingual Business Consultant/Coach at the Kern Women’s Business Center has a passion for walking underserved clients through the entire process. He loves watching them succeed and believes his clients are contributing to the advancement of the economy. 

“A lot of my Spanish speaking clients do not have prior education due to certain circumstances but they are hard working and have these amazing products and services. They just need assistance and to be educated on the business aspect,” said Castrejon.

One of the Kern Women’s Business Center’s most recent success stories features a client that started by selling Salvadorian food from her kitchen, but yearned for the opportunity to open her own restaurant. 

“I tasted her food, heard her story, gave her my number and told her to give me a call so I can help her get licensed, permits and everything she needed to launch a business,” said Castrejon.

Aside from working with the center’s bilingual consultants, budget assistance coordinators, Spanish-language workshops and webinars, Castrejon helped the client with all facets of opening a business. She was able to accomplish her goal and the restaurant has been operating for over a month. She also employed her two daughters and her spouse, making her business a family-run establishment.

“When our clients utilize the resources we provide, they can indeed achieve their business goals,” said Dunn. 

Seeing the positive response to their Spanish-speaking consultants, the Center plans to bring in additional bilingual consultants that speak languages other than Spanish. 

Like B3K Prosperity, the Kern Women’s Business Center is committed to achieving a future of inclusive growth in Kern County and recognizing the central role of entrepreneurship in building deep prosperity. 

Together, we can accomplish our shared goals and create a region where all residents can realize their full potential.


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