Lifting Community Through Empowerment: A Q&A With Racquel Knight, Director of Center for Women & Enterprise’s Central MA Office

During the month of March and Women’s History Month, the Foundation joins the Library of Congress in “celebrating the vital role of women in American history” by highlighting one of our local nonprofit partners making an impact in the lives of women throughout the MetroWest region.

The Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE) has been a pivotal community hub since its inception in 1995. Through connection, education, and advocacy, CWE has empowered generations of women through entrepreneurship.

In our latest Q&A, Racquel Knight, Director of CWE’s Central MA office shared more on the organization’s empowering work and how they are creating a more equitable and prosperous future for all.

What need does The Center for Women & Enterprise fill in the MetroWest Community?

Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE) originally started as a non-profit micro-lending institution and community for women entrepreneurs. However, after extensive research and discussions with various aspiring and established women entrepreneurs, it became clear that women really needed education and training as much as access to capital. In particular, for economically disadvantaged women with limited formal business training, it seemed that education was the essential ingredient. Education helps empower women to become economically self-sufficient and break the cycle of poverty. Furthermore, when coupled with training, education provides women the skills to launch and build successful businesses.

How has the Center for Women & Enterprise grown since its founding?

Since our establishment, CWE has made significant strides in empowering women economically. Across CWE as a whole, we have trained 69,100 individuals, resulting in the creation of 61,800 jobs and the generation of $1.8 billion in wages. Specifically in Central Massachusetts, we have trained 13,300 individuals, leading to 11,500 jobs created and $356 million in wages generated. These numbers underscore the tangible impact of our programs.

What are the most significant needs you see MetroWest women seeking from CWE? What are the resources you wish more clients would utilize?

The primary needs identified in the MetroWest community include access to education, training, personalized business counseling, and networking opportunities. We encourage clients to utilize our one-on-one business counseling sessions and pursue Women’s Business Enterprise certification to maximize their potential for success.

You offer your resources in both Spanish and English. How has removing the barrier of language impacted both entrepreneurs and the community?

Our provision of resources in both Spanish and English has dismantled language barriers, allowing us to reach a broader demographic. This inclusivity has facilitated collaborations with community organizations, further amplifying our impact and fostering community engagement.

What is it like to be part of each woman’s journey?

It is an honor to be part of each woman’s entrepreneurial journey. Their stories and aspirations inspire us to continue our mission of empowering women entrepreneurs, knowing that their success uplifts themselves and their families and communities.

How does empowering and supporting women lift the whole community?

When we empower women to succeed economically, they’re better positioned to support themselves, their families, and the communities around them. And, ultimately, they’ll lead the way in driving sustained economic growth and creating a more equitable world for us all.

How can people get involved in your organization?

The Center for Women & Enterprise fosters women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship. As we expand our reach and impact, we invite stakeholders to join us in this transformative journey toward a more equitable and prosperous future for all. Join CWE by following us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn to learn more.

The Community Foundation for MetroWest is proud to partner with The Center for Women & Enterprise and other MetroWest organizations to empower the next generation of leaders and lift communities. We thank Racquel for taking the time to share more about CWE and encourage everyone to take a moment to visit their website and learn more.

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