Organization to boost women business owners

March 30, 2009
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A new group is organizing to support women whose businesses are ready to take the next step.

WISE — Women In Successful Enterprises — aims to help women business owners who are past the start-up phase and are ready to grow, said Floriza Genautis.

Genautis, owner of Management Business Solutions Inc., a Grand Rapids staffing and recruiting firm with six employees, is working with Connie Sweet of Connection Graphics in Lansing to organize WISE, an outgrowth of their participation in the local group Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs.

WISE plans to sponsor events quarterly for established women-owned businesses in central and West Michigan, Genautis said. The first occurred last week, with a session on sustainability at Cascade Engineering, followed by a brewery tour and networking time at Schmohz Brewery. She said she expected about 50 to attend.

The next event will be a full-day conference on leadership May 21 in conjunction with Ann Arbor-based Michigan Women’s Marketplace, an online forum for women in business, at Davenport University’s Caledonia campus.

“It’s created to be a resource group for women in business who are already established.” said Genautis, who launched her firm less than three years ago.

“When we were looking to find a name, we really said, ‘You know, these are wise women,’” she added. “They are looking to grow their business to the next level. They’re certainly not start-ups. They are not in the entrepreneurial phase. … We want to be the vehicle to provide those opportunities as well as resources to get them to that level.”

The organization is not membership-based, she said.

Genautis said she has often attended events for women business owners on the east side of the state.

“There’s something missing here in our area in West Michigan, because there’s nothing here available. There are a lot of great, great … events, organizations available to help you get started, networking opportunities, but never focused on established companies. Really, that’s where we came in.”

More information is available at www.wiseconnections.org

“It’s very inclusive. You don’t have to be a business owner to join in,” she added, noting that executives in larger businesses may participate in WISE events.

Among the issues that established businesses face that may be addressed by WISE are public relations and employee retention, Genautis said. “We do face different types of issues as we grow our business,” she said.

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