Every 26th of August, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day. Did you know that women-owned businesses constitute nearly 42% of all businesses in the US? Their influence goes beyond numbers, generating over 10 million jobs and contributing around $1.8 trillion to the economy. These numbers underscore the crucial role that women entrepreneurs play in driving forward economic progress and fostering vibrant communities.
Women entrepreneurs have been carving their paths, driving innovation, and creating opportunities for growth and equality. As we get ready to celebrate Women's Equality Day, we spotlight the ACE Women’s Business Center and its remarkable impact on women-owned businesses in metro Atlanta.
Women's Equality Day is not just a date on the calendar; it's a powerful reminder of the journey toward gender equality and the remarkable achievements made along the way. This annual observance marks the momentous day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was certified, granting women in the United States the right to vote.
In the modern context, Women's Equality Day serves as a rallying point for ongoing efforts to eliminate gender-based disparities and ensure equal opportunities for women. It's a call to action, a reminder that while much progress has been achieved, there is still work to be done to address remaining inequalities and biases.
ACE Loans and their Women's Business Center are at the forefront of this empowerment movement in Atlanta. Founded with a vision to provide more than just financial support, this non-profit organization has become a driving force, offering mentorship, resources, and a vibrant community. Their dedication resonates with the essence of Women's Equality Day – celebrating achievements, breaking barriers, and creating opportunities.
ACE's inception was fueled by founder and CEO Grace Fricks' belief in the strength of collaboration. Starting in rural North Georgia in 1997, Grace, a social worker, embarked on an unexpected journey into the world of lending. She recognized a need and brought together a team from her local community - a personal banker, an entrepreneur, and a technical college - to fill the gap. This collaborative spirit became Grace's defining trait.
In 2000, ACE got its first $50,000 grant to serve four rural North Georgia counties. Initially rooted in rural North Georgia, ACE's mission expanded to address the needs of minority entrepreneurs in Atlanta and its bustling metro area. The post-recession rise of African American entrepreneurship in Atlanta led to ACE's increased outreach. By 2012, Atlanta ranked second only to New York City in African-American-owned firms. ACE's collaboration with organizations like the Atlanta Business League helped them comprehend the unique needs of African American entrepreneurs. This began the non-profit’s concerted effort to serve underserved communities.
In 2015, ACE launched its Women's Business Center (WBC) in Gwinnett County to cater to Hispanic and African American women. Providing services in English and Spanish, the WBC became a beacon of support for women entrepreneurs from diverse communities. Partnerships with the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Latin American Association, and the Georgia Hispanic Construction Association solidified ACE's reach among varying backgrounds.
COVID-19 saw the non-profit adapt swiftly, offering loan deferments and flexible options. Collaborating with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), ACE's Women's Business Center was critical in providing guidance for disaster relief loans and the Paycheck Protection Program.
With a remarkable track record of over 425 dynamic trainings and the transformation of over 15,000 small business owners, the WBC stands as a beacon of growth and learning. The center earned the SBA's 2022 National, Regional, and State Women's Business Center of the Year Excellence Awards as a testament to their impact.
To give you a good idea of WBC’s commitment to women-owned businesses, let’s see the story of Rahel Tarfal. The founder of Grant Park Coffeehouse, she was finding it hard to keep her business afloat in the height of the pandemic. Thankfully, through ACE, she was granted a loan from Wells Fargo, precisely the working capital she needed to stay in business.
At Clean Tu Casa, we believe that empowerment knows no boundaries. Our partnership with the Women’s Business Center is a testament to this belief, showcasing how two woman-owned entities can join forces to create a lasting impact.
Through our corporate cleaning services, we're not just removing dust and grime but creating a space where the center can thrive. We understand that a clean, organized workspace sets the stage for creativity, productivity, and collaboration. Our commitment is unwavering, as we diligently ensure that the WBC's environment reflects their dedication to empowerment.
As we wrap up this article, we are reminded of the profound impact collaboration can have on the journey toward equality. Our joint efforts exemplify the power of women supporting women, and it's a beacon of hope for the future.
While you celebrate Women's Equality Day, take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work of organizations like ACE Loans. Let us celebrate the progress made, honor the achievements of women entrepreneurs, and look forward to a future where every woman's potential is unleashed.
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