Innovation for Empowerment at the Women’s Business Center of Ohio

Images via WBC Facebook Page

Earlier this month, ECDI welcomed Shaundretta Boykins as the new director of the Women’s Business Center of Ohio (WBC). Previously, Boykins served as ECDI’s Lead Relationship Manager for the WBC, and brings almost 20 years of financial experience and an entrepreneurial background to the WBC’s members.

“I started out in college as a bank teller,” Boykins says, “and I’ve been in financial services for 19 years.”

As a young adult, Boykins knew little of finance and worked to educate herself, and over time she’s grown to love the industry.

“In college I was struggling with credit card debt, and I filed for bankruptcy twice,” Boykins explains.

Boykins’ lack of knowledge of credit and subsequent hardship actually inspired her to educate herself more in financial services. She is currently an entrepreneur herself, which gives her a unique perspective and competitive edge when it comes to understanding and advising other aspiring entrepreneurs. Her company, The Credit Connoisseur LLC, has been in operation for almost a decade, and helps educate clients on credit and how to manage it. 

“I became an expert in the credit field through experience,” Boykins says. “I’m a continual student because it’s very fluid and changes all the time.”

Boykins believes her knowledge and understanding of financial services, having both struggled herself and worked in the industry, correlates directly to the work she does with ECDI and the WBC. Her work at The Credit Connoisseur LLC has a mutually beneficial relationship with ECDI, as her personal clients come to ECDI seeking capital. Additionally, WBC members have gained financial awareness through the help of her business. Boykins has worked hard to get where she is, and although she has faced some discrimination as a young black female, she has never let societal expectations or boundaries hold her back.

“Just like a smile is a universal language, so is a credit score,” Boykins says. “[Typically] when I present the information, they go for it.”

Shaundretta Boykins – Image provided by ECDI

Boykins is clearly a go-getter, and has big plans for the WBC. Some of her new initiatives will launch this summer to help bring more success and opportunity for entrepreneurs. 

The first initiative is to create a podcast that she has dubbed Winning Women’s Wednesdays at the WBC. The video podcasts will feature topical experts and the first episode has an expected release date of July 10. The podcast will be an assortment of episodes in interview, traditional talking head, and demonstration formats.

“I wanted the participants to have a variety of options,” Boykins says. “You have to meet people where they are.”

Winning Women’s Wednesdays aims to give people an outlet to help each other navigate the financial and small business world. 

Another constructive and cooperative idea Boykins will be implementing is a “pop-up shop” in the WBC. The pop-up shop will help women entrepreneurs get a taste at running their own retail shop without many of the expensive and risky measures taken when attempting to start off solo. 

Boykins has a “market of women who have retail products, but just don’t have a space to sell.” She hopes that this rotating pop-up shop will help these retailers get exposure through cross-marketing and build a network of local female entrepreneurs.

The WBC has been supporting women entrepreneurs for years. While the results have been great in assisting hundreds of members in the state, the reach can be greater, and there are still plenty of aspiring entrepreneurs that could use the assistance. 

Boykins expressed that “It’s about bringing awareness and exposure to the services we offer, which are phenomenal for small business owners.”

She further conveyed that the best way for the community to continue to support ECDI and the WBC is to simply utilize the facilities and programs. Small business owners can work with each other and create a network, as well as give back by participating in the podcast and other events. Ohio entrepreneurs not involved with an organization like the WBC are missing out.

“It’s still the best kept secret in Columbus,” Boykins says. “People need to know we are here as a resource.”

The WBC focuses on the 3Cs—Coaching, Connections, and Capital. For a small registration fee of $80, members get the opportunity to join a network of entrepreneurs and gain access to mentoring, training, loans, workshops, printing, internet access, and more invaluable resources for a budding company.  

Boykins reiterated that for small businesses at any point of the process, “this is the place to be.” 

For more information, visit wbcohio.org.

This mutli-part sponsored series highlighting ECDI’s work in Columbus is presented with paid support by ECDI.

Since 2004, ECDI has assisted Ohio’s entrepreneurs through its one-stop shop business services model, suited to meet the needs of all entrepreneurs, regardless of what business stage they’re in. From providing capital to entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses, to providing focused, business-specific educational opportunities to enhance entrepreneurial skill sets, ECDI works with their clients to meet their unique needs. Whether assisting a new client with a business concept or an accomplished entrepreneur opening a fifth location, ECDI’s “never say no” approach has allowed over twelve thousand entrepreneurs to take advantage of the services it provides. Visit ecdi.org today to learn more.