Start-Up Viera showcases female entrepreneurs


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WeVENTURE teamed up with The Avenue Viera to host Start-Up Viera from May 9 to 11.

Austin Rushnell

It’s important that everyone gets an equal opportunity to work and thrive in the business sector. Groups such as the Bisk College of Business at the Florida Institute of Technology are working hard to assure just that.

From May 9 to 11, Florida Tech-sponsored weVENTURE partnered with The Avenue Viera to host Start-Up Viera. Six local female entrepreneurs held a marketplace in front of the AMC Viera.

WeVENTURE is a nonprofit organization that  was launched at Florida Tech in 2007 for the purpose of “accelerating growth for female entrepreneurs by providing customized coaching and mentoring, business education and purposeful networking programs,” according to Florida Tech officials.

At Start-Up Viera, the six entrepreneurs offered a variety of goods: hand-woven baskets, homemade caramel, goods for dogs, homemade gourmet popcorn, handmade designer items, and craft seasoning blends.

“We are a small business-support and women’s empowerment organization,” said Erica Lemp, executive director for weVENTURE at Florida Tech. “We started back in 2007 as a women’s business center program, and that has evolved to be able to help with everything from small, start-up businesses to growth-based businesses (and not just women, men are assisted as well), and our whole goal is to assist women and entrepreneurs to become economically sustainable.”

Lemp said female entrepreneurs face challenges in today’s business market.

“One of the biggest challenges is always going to be access to capital,” Lemp explained. “One of the things that we have found is that (for) venture capital — 75 percent of that goes to men. Part of the problem is that entrepreneurs don’t have all that many female investors.

“More female investors mean more investment into female start-ups.” Lemp said.

WeVENTURE seeks to not only support women in starting their businesses, but also to support the idea of women in business roles.

“Our whole goal is to make women in business ownership more accessible,” Lemp added, “by helping to provide education and some training opportunities, internship coaching, all that kind of (support).”

For more information about weVENTURE, go to weVENTURE.fit.edu or call 321-674-7007.