BUFFALO, N.Y. — This year in our City Shaper's reports, we are celebrating the women of Western New York who are contributing to our region's resurgence. This week, 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik shows us how one Western New Yorker is helping women grow their businesses.
Sara Vescio is the Executive Director of the Women's Business Center at Canisius College. She grew up at Grand Island here in New York.
Vescio leads a team of women that's leading women entrepreneurs to success.
"They're pursuing their passion, so they're really good at what they know and what they do, but maybe they don't know all the aspects of running a business," Vescio said.
The Women's Business Center at Canisius College is one of more than 100 Women's Business Centers across the United States. They are funded mainly through the Small Business Administration.
This one opened in 2004. Vescio joined as the program director in 2012.
"What got you on this career path? What were you doing before this?" asked Dudzik.
"Interestingly enough, my career path has been in non-profit leadership. Not specifically in entrepreneurship. So, while I was at Niagara University, I was working in the development office. I was very passionate about my education that I was receiving, and the experience that I was receiving, and thought that it was very sad that people that couldn't afford it were maybe missing out because they didn't know they could go on scholarship," Vescio said.
Vescio then earned her Master’s in Executive Leadership and Change, got a corporate job before having her son, then joined the Boys and Girls Clubs as a director of development. In 2012 she joined the WBC.
We visited one of the WBC's E Network classes, which focuses on business development skills.
"Collaboration is the new competition. We teach that all the time in our E Network program. As we were mentioning business development, one of the greatest tricks of the trade of growing your business is finding other businesses that you can grow together with. And, that is really what we focus on," Vescio said.
Any woman at any point in their business career can get involved.
"What makes me passionate about creating these programs is even though women are starting businesses faster than any other segment, they are still reaching a plateau. There's only two-percent of women who are surpassing the million-dollar mark in revenues, and so I focus a lot on how I can help them grow," Vescio said.
"How does it make you feel to know that you're helping people every day when you come in to work?" asked Dudzik.
"I love it. I love what I do. Every single day of my entire career has been a passion for working for our community and those segments that need a little support," Vescio said.
Across the country, 96 percent of the Women's Business Center's clients report revenue growth. Many of the programs are free while some have a small cost.
You can nominate a woman to be a 2019 City Shaper by emailing Kelly Dudzik.
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