NAWBO: Creating a Powerful Impact

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Executive board of the National Association of Women Business Owners

Writer  /  Kara Reibel  .  Photographers  /  Kara Reibel, Brenda Staples

Since inception 40 years ago, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) has facilitated change by creating a strong impact across the country, enabling a more equitable playing field for women-owned businesses.

The result is a ripple effect, not only benefiting women but minority business owners as well.

The roots of NAWBO began with advocacy. In the 1970s, in order for a woman to get a business loan, a man had to to sign off on it. Realizing that women represented 54 percent of the voting public, a group of women in the D.C. area formed the first chapter of NAWBO to positively impact public policy.

The ripple effect of these efforts 40 years ago is still being felt in progressive waves. One of the largest, if not the strongest, chapter of NAWBO is located here in Indianapolis with a strong membership of over 200 central Indiana women-owned businesses.

NAWBO has broadened their scope from only being a vehicle for changing public policy, but it is a strong networking group of dynamic, successful and highly capable women who, when gathered in one room, create an electricity that is unmatched.

Each of these women is a game changer. A more intelligent, creative or professional grouping of individuals could not be found elsewhere.

“I have witnessed that within our membership, the more engaged a member is, the more she gets out of it,” shares NAWBO Executive Director Mi’Chelle Bettner. “We have many opportunities to volunteer, attend events and serve on committees.”

Executive Board President Kathy Cabello founded her own company, Cabello Associates, a strategic marketing consultancy working with Fortune 500 companies. Cabello is focused on driving businesses forward, which is her leadership theme for her Board position, by creating growth opportunities for NAWBO members and corporate partners in their mutually beneficial relationship.

“Studies show that locally owned businesses give more to their communities,” states Cabello. “We at NAWBO provide the support and access to resources for growing businesses.”

Carol Curren, of Phoenix Data Corp. located in Lawrence, emphasizes the value of networking within NAWBO, citing that she works with at least five companies that she met through the organization.

“I like to work within the NAWBO family and help these companies grow,” shares Curren. “It also helps my company, and I enjoy helping others to further along their careers.”

Curren, a natural mentor and President-Elect of the NAWBO Board of Directors, was directly mentored by another female business owner which motivates her to give back.

WBO Statistics“The relationships that develop in our organization are powerful, and it’s such a fantastic organization to be a part of,” shares Bettner.

“I enjoy the camaraderie of fellow women business owners,” says Jeryl Mitsch of Mitsch Design in Carmel. “The support and encouragement is incredible! At our meetings, the energy and excitement is palpable. The Indianapolis chapter of NAWBO is looked up to as a benchmark.”

Cabello’s advice to women starting their own business is, “Be prepared to work very hard and surround yourself with a good core team.”

Cabello established her goals with her Presidency as the following:

“My desire is for women-owned businesses to grow and flourish, to go from good to GREAT and to economically impact our city, state and nation at unprecedented levels.”

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