Women’s Entrepreneurship Network

Moving South Carolina women from start to growth.

WBO Facts | Get Involved | Upcoming EventsFounding Partner | Key Contact

Imagine a South Carolina economy in which women-driven businesses contribute equal, if not more, in start up ideas, revenue, job creation and successful attainment of capital funding. Imagine a self-sustained mentor ecosystem that supports the upward mobility of women entrepreneurs and innovators at all stages of business. Imagine a series of statewide educational programs that challenges women to think beyond traditional ideas and connect with national thought and action leaders. Imagine a resource network that is easy to access and navigate, connecting women to resources and to each other.

The Institute for Leadership & Professional Excellence at Columbia College launched the South Carolina Women’s Entrepreneurial Network (SCWEN) to connect, serve and accelerate growth of a new generation of women-owned businesses and empower women toward economic independence. The partnership is powered by grant funding from the South Carolina Department of Commerce Innovation Challenge

The SCWEN will:

  • Grow a supportive, connected innovation community by assembling and facilitating information exchange among a coalition of partners whose missions align with empowering women-led businesses; by developing a mentor ecosystem to support and serve women at all stages of business; by compiling research and resources; and by advocating and disseminating information and driving action to support a women-led economy.

  • Support access to capital for women owned entities at all stages of development by connecting women to funds and capital resources.

  • Grow workforce talent by offering comprehensive educational and coaching opportunities designed to identify and grow specific opportunities and strengths of women.

Why is SCWEN needed?

According to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, South Carolina ranks sixth among the top ten states with the fastest growth in the number of Women Owned Businesses (WOBs) over the past 17 years, however the state’s overall economic clout rank is 35 based on revenue and job creation among WOBs. Contributing negatively to this ranking is net-zero percent WOB job creation in the state between 1997-2014. The state has an estimated net gain of 37,700 WOBs in the past decade, however the average firm revenue is down from $141,000 to $136,000. An average employee count of 1.14 per WOB is not sustainable. Therefore, it is imperative that additional, collaborative and structured resources be allocated to WOBs within the state to increase the likelihood of their success and sustainability.

How can you get involved in SCWEN?

Upcoming Events

Founding Partner

In July 2013, Columbia College launched the Institute for Leadership and Professional Excellence to serve our students’ career preparation and to enhance community partnerships. In 18 months, the Institute has delivered on its initial goals:

  • Launched mentoring program for two classes of first-year students, pairing more than 250 mentors.
  • Developed portfolio of programs for students, including site visits, job shadows, internships, study-away and study-abroad experiences.
  • Initiated comprehensive career services center, including coaching, professional and soft-skills development workshops and an integrated employer database for students and alumni.
  • Expanded network of girls, college student and professional women leaders.
  • Prepare women of all ages to assume leadership roles within their professions and communities, to lead innovation and change, and to be effective and principled leaders in a global society.


Key Contact

Katherine Swartz Hilton, Director, Center for Leadership & Co-Director, McNair Center for Entrepreneurism at Columbia College
kswartz@nullcolumbiasc.edu | 803.786.3822