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Innovation & Job News

Bad Girl Ventures 'launches' new crop of grads, marks five years

BGV Fall 2016 Launch program participants

Bad Girl Ventures' Cleveland location is celebrating its fifth anniversary by doing what it does best - giving area women business owners a financial boost for their entrepreneurial endeavors.
 
Last month, BGV awarded two $15,000 loans to a pair of graduates from its fall 2016 LAUNCH group. The loan recipients, Liza Rifkin of Liza Michelle Jewelry and Angelina Rodriguez Pata of Blackbird Fly Boutique, were part of an eight-member class that underwent nine weeks of training at Baldwin Wallace University's Center for Innovation & Growth.
 
Liza Michelle Jewelry offers custom-made, eco-friendly pieces, while Blackbird Fly Boutique brings customers contemporary apparel, footwear, accessories and locally made gifts. Both Ohio City store owners displayed the business-minded strength and acumen BGV seeks when choosing its awardees, says Northeast Ohio marketing manager Reka Barabas.
 
"These two are dedicated to growth and getting new revenue streams into their businesses," Barabas says. "We had a strong cohort of participants this fall, but there's only so much we can do with our funding."
 
The loans, awarded in  partnership with the Economic Community Development Institute (ECDI), will be used by the respective businesses to purchase inventory or expand a marketing campaign.
 
This is the first cohort to graduate under the new LAUNCH curriculum in Northeast Ohio, which is designed for established, majority women-owned enterprises that have been making sales for at least a year, says Barabas. Most program participants aim to tighten operations, discover new growth opportunities and learn about funding options.
 
"The loan can be a motivator, but it's often the icing on the cake," Barabas says. "Many people come to us because they realize the power of a structured program. They love being part of a supportive community of female entrepreneurs."
 
BGV Cleveland has graduated 18 classes since its establishment in 2011. Founded in Cincinnati and expanded since to markets throughout Ohio and Kentucky, the program overall has lent $220,000 to business owners. BGV Cleveland program grads, meanwhile, have attracted an additional $800,000 follow-on funding from non-BGV sources.
 
"We've grown up in these last five years," says Barabas. "Raising the profile of female entrepreneurship very much touches on our mission."
 
The nonprofit is already looking ahead to next year's iteration. Women business owners from any industry can apply online for the 2017 LAUNCH program by February 28. Barabas is excited to welcome a new class into BGV's hard-working fold.
 
"We're excited to be part of this ecosystem in Northeast Ohio," she says. "We want entrepreneurs to thrive in the community." 

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.   
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