Key4Women, a program dedicated to providing access for women entrepreneurs to financial solutions, networking opportunities and ongoing education is more than two years old.
The program is part of Key Bank, which has pledged to lend at least $1 billion to qualified businesses owned by women over three years and to deliver meaningful resources to women.
As of April 2007, Key4Women has surpassed that goal and has committed to a new goal, pledging to lend $2 billion to qualified women-owned businesses over the next five years.
The program is offered in 13 states across the country and can be accessed at www.keybank.com/women.
"By recognizing that growth is a priority for female business owners, Key4Women serves as a meaningful resource for women, one that provides them with the financial resources and support they need to help their businesses succeed” said Maria Coyne, Executive Vice President, Key4Women.
Coyne shared that there is no difference in the actual products and services offered to their women-owned business clients through this program than to other small business clients.
Instead, it’s about recognizing that women business owners may have different management styles and seek information from a variety of different sources before making key business decisions.
The program utilizes Relationship Managers who are the local champions and contacts for the business owners.
Coyne said that the role of these managers is to identify needs and to focus on helping the women grow sustainable businesses. They provide customized services and create solutions for business issues the owners may be experiencing and work to learn about both the specific business industry and the owner in order to provide the right assistance.
The major difference about this program is that it goes beyond financial support and obligations found in a typical banking solution.
Instead, Key4Women also provides the business owners with educational and networking opportunities to help grow and sustain their companies. Some of these resources include:
The Key4Women Club, offering free membership to Key clients, provides women business owners with educational resources (newsletters and podcasts) and networking events, including presentations by subject matter experts in various business management topics.
The educational guide, Financing Business Growth: Proven Strategies for Women Business Owners from Women Business Owners, produced in partnership with the Center for Women's Business Research, provides stories of successful women entrepreneurs as well as advice, ideas, resources and an overview of appropriate options for financing growth
The Club provides women entrepreneurs with customized service and access to capital by specialists who provide the financial expertise that business owners need to take their business exactly where they want it to go and to achieve their financial goals.
Sponsorships of organizations that support women business owners include the Center for Women's Business Research, Women Presidents' Organization, and eWomenNetwork.