In the News

Three important resources for Iowa women business owners

While the number of women-owned businesses has been sharply increasing in the past four decades — they now represent four of every 10 businesses in the United States — they still contribute a small part of the total revenue — just 4.3 percent in the private sector. Iowa boasts organizations and programs with goals to bridge the margin.

If you’re looking to grow or wanting to make the leap on your own, here are three places you can turn to for help — both financially and strategically.  

Iowa Center for Economic Success

Founded in 1987, the Iowa Center for Economic Success was formed to assist Iowa business owners in financial and strategic planning. In 1998, the organization launched the Iowa Women’s Business Center, which was funded in cooperation with U.S. Small Business Administration. The center was the first in the nation and continues to be the only SBA-funded Women’s Business Center in Iowa.

Through the Women’s Business Center, business owners can leverage continuing education classes, one-on-one business counseling, private loan counseling and education, and connections to other resources around the state. Services are offered in both English and Spanish.

The Iowa Center also offers loans up to $50,000 for established businesses and $30,000 for new businesses, featuring favorable interest rates, fixed monthly payments and up to five-year terms.

Business owners can also take advantage of the Iowa Center’s advocacy and networking events, which are great for connecting with other like-minded individuals. 

Iowa Small Business Development Center

One of the state branches of the America’s Small Business Development Center program, which started in 1981, the Iowa SBDC has worked with nearly 17,000 clients in the past five years and helped created 7,450 jobs. The center provides no-cost, confidential, customized advice to business owners. The Iowa SDBC has 15 locations all around the state, including Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Ames, Council Bluffs and Davenport.

For business owners looking for advice in all stages of business — starting a business, growing a business, succession planning and more — the Iowa SBDC offers one-on-one mentoring and courses.

Every year, the Iowa SBDC also awards the Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur Achievement Award to standout women entrepreneurs around the state.

Targeted Small Business Program

Administered through the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Targeted Small Business Program specifically gives help to women, individuals with minority status, service-connected disabled veterans and people with disabilities with small businesses in the form of state benefits, loans and awareness.

To qualify as a Targeted Small Business, a business must be for-profit, have annual gross sales less than $4 million and be at least 51 percent owned, operated and managed by women, minorities or persons with disabilities. 

One of the biggest benefits is the long-term loans and equity grants through the state with low or no interest rates. The loans specifically can be deferred three months for startup businesses and one month for an existing business. To see more benefits of the program, click here.

Ashley Mowery takes advice from NAWBO Iowa member to pursue accounting

Throughout her schooling career, Ashley Mowery knew she was interested in numbers. But it took some guidance and advice from a longtime NAWBO Iowa member to choose her eventual career in accounting. 

Mowery grew up in Norwalk and attended Simpson College in Indianola — “I haven’t traveled far,” she joked. Mowery now works with the CPA firm McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith in West Des Moines. While attending Simpson, she began to catch an interest in accounting. Her mother was an office manager at a business that was a client of McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, where NAWBO Iowa member Kathi Koenig worked.

Koenig, now a partner at the firm, and Mowery sat down for lunch. Mowery asked Koenig about the work and day-to-day tasks.

“That’s when I decided that accounting was where I wanted to go,” Mowery said. “I had some interest, and she talked to me about what life was like in public accounting. She helped me get interested.”

Mowery interned with the firm during college and eventually took a full-time position as a staff accountant in 2007. She quickly ascended the accounting ranks, becoming a senior accountant, supervisor, manager and senior manager, where she serves today.

“[McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith] is a great place to work,” Mowery said. “We’ve won a few different awards for best places to work. We have a busy season, but we have a flexible schedule, so it helps because I have three young children. It’s nice to have the schedule when I have to be away from the office and fulfill other obligations.”

Koenig also encouraged Mowery to join NAWBO Iowa, and Mowery currently serves on the organization’s board of directors as the director of accounting. Mowery credits NAWBO Iowa with connecting her to other like-minded individuals and helping her professional network grow.

Mowery played golf in college and still considers the sport one of her hobbies. With three boys, she also likes to spend time outdoors. As a senior manager, she enjoys helping clients with their business needs — and watching the businesses grow in the process.

“I really enjoy working with our clients and helping them with their businesses,” Mowery said. “We get to help them with their accounting needs, help them grow their business and operate their business how they want to.”