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National Organizations Encourage Female Business Owners

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What started out as a cleaning job to pay for a pair of jeans turned into a booming Gainesville business.

All Kristen Hadeed wanted was one pair of $99-jeans — the ones with the “Lucky Brand” tag. They weren’t extravagant. They were dark in color with no bead-work or studs, but they fit her perfectly.

Hadeed asked her parents to buy them for her, but they refused.

Determined to have those jeans, she posted an add in Craigslist to clean houses. Hadeed received a multitude of responses and eventually began hiring other students to clean with her.

After realizing Gainesville’s need for a trusted cleaning company, Hadeed founded Student Maid before graduating from the University of Florida in 2010. Since then, Student Maid has been successful and is growing daily.

Cory Wise (left) and Courtney Buckley (right) work together to clean a residence. Wise and Buckley work for Student Maid, owned by Kristen Hadeed.
Cory Wise (left) and Courtney Buckley (right) work together to clean a residence. Wise and Buckley work for Student Maid, owned by Kristen Hadeed.

Like many women business owners, Hadeed was able to turn her passions of cleaning and managing into money. The Small Business Administration and the National Women’s Business Council aim to help other women do the same.

The SBA and NWBC are working together nationwide to brainstorm ways to encourage more women entrepreneurs.

They are discussing potential policies to generate additional revenue for and by women business owners and investors through the 2015 fiscal year, according to an SBA press release.

“We basically want to find out how we can better get our products and services to women, and are making sure we have everything at their fingertips to make them successful,” said Cassius Butts, SBA southeast regional administrator.

One of the SBA’s main goals is to increase the number of federally contracted loans for women business owners to five percent. Because past numbers have not met the mark, many of the future policies will aim to help women qualify for small capital loans, said Erin Andrew, assistant administrator for the Office of Women Business Ownership at SBA.

For North Central Florida, the ramifications of new policies are significant.

The SBA North Florida District Office contributed over $67 million in loans to women in the 2014 fiscal year. Butts said policies to be put in place by the upcoming fiscal year will improve programs and funds already established for females who own a small business.

Currently, 31 percent of all businesses in North Central Florida are owned by women. Therefore, policies involving financial help, improvements of resources and additional opportunities to grow and market one’s business are going to affect a large portion of the North Central Florida’s business owners, said Michael Chung, assistant director of the Small Business Development Center in Ocala.

A variety of resources are already available to women who are thinking of starting their own businesses.

Susan Davenport, vice president of Gainesville Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Council said an online entrepreneur resource center in Gainesville provides tools to locate entrepreneurial educators, funding services and resource providers. From there, women can connect to the business community.

Davenport said a mentor is an important tool to consider when starting a business. Women who have already worked in the business world can provide insight into the process of developing a new business.

Yet uncertainty still exists among women within the business world despite available assets. Each woman must decide on her own to pursue her passion. Some women business owners believe taking on the unknown is worth the potential end results, especially those who really want a new pair of jeans.

“Go ahead and do it,” Hadeed said.  “It can be scary to take the plunge, but if you don’t, you will always wonder what could have happened if you did.”

About Katelin Mariner

Katelin is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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