Cleveland bank mentors women business owners

KeyBank, Cleveland, Ohio, volunteered 1,000 hours mentoring women small business owners in October. Approximately 200 members of the $144 billion bank’s “Key4Women” program each volunteered 5 hours mentoring KeyBank clients as a part of National Women’s Small Business Month. 

“Women business owners have shared that often the biggest problem they face is that empty chair when they’re looking for advice,” said Barb Smith, director of Key4Women. “We know the potential women have as business leaders is unlimited.”

A study conducted by Key4Women found optimism among women business owners is on the rise. Seventy-one percent said they were highly optimistic they would achieve their business goals in the next year, up from 67 percent in 2018.

Additionally, women business owners in the survey believed that the proportion of women-owned businesses will continue to rise in the next five years. More than half believed the number of businesses owned by men and women will be similar. Twenty-seven percent said men will continue to own more businesses than women, and 19 percent believe that women will own more businesses.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 36 percent of all businesses in the country are at least majority-owned by women, and among those businesses, 99.9 percent are classified as small businesses.

“Our goal is to make sure our clients are on the right path for their business by helping set goals and jointly discovering solutions to exceed those goals,” Smith said. “We’re discovering what financial wellness means to them and striving towards that.”

Each business owner who partakes in the bank’s mentorship program was assigned directly to a mentor specifically for their needs and goals. 

And the mentors aren’t just KeyBank representatives. “We’re using all of our resources to bring in mentors who are already in the business community, entrepreneurs, or other types of community leaders,” Smith said.

The program, which ran throughout October, will continue mentoring sessions through the end of 2019, and is available to any women business owners who want help and guidance.