Women starting a business

are joined by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to Grow Women-Owned Businesses; QVC Joins as National Retail Marketing Supporter.

“Women entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses too often face barriers to accessing the financing and technical assistance they need,” said Senator Clinton. “Giving women entrepreneurs the tools to expand is not just good for business. It’s good for our communities, and it will help grow our economy.”

Count Me In and OPEN introduced the program to help women entrepreneurs achieve necessary growth to build sustainable enterprises, create jobs and develop innovative products and services. In last year’s Make Mine a $Million Business pilot program, 23 women entrepreneurs from across the country received one-on-one mentoring, marketing assistance and money in the form of Count Me In loans to fund their growth. 2005 Awardee Denise Houseberg, owner of MarketExpo.com, has already turned her business into a million-dollar enterprise with assistance she received in the program.

“Make Mine a $Million Business is inviting women entrepreneurs across America to declare their intention to grow their businesses to $1 million to transform their lives and transform the U.S. economy,” said Nell Merlino, president, Count Me In. “Count Me In is proud to present this initiative with founding partner OPEN from American Express and new supporter QVC.”

As part of an expanded effort this year, QVC will market Make Mine a $Million Business through its national product search program, reaching thousands of potential applicants. QVC, which broadcasts to 87 million homes in the US, will also promote the program on air. Make Mine a $Million Business Awardees may also have the opportunity to market their products on the network.

“The Make Mine a $Million declaration is important because in today’s economy, women are not just consumers, they are producers,” said Susan Sobbott, president, OPEN from American Express. “We must support women-owned small businesses because our economic future depends on it. We are delighted that a company such as QVC has joined forces with OPEN and Count Me In, and we hope others join the cause.”

“QVC is committed to helping women entrepreneurs build million dollar businesses,” said Darlene Daggett, president, U.S. Commerce, QVC. “Our reach into American homes will raise awareness for the declaration, encourage women to participate in the program and serve as a potential market for business owners’ products based on our product search program that will occur in conjunction with San Francisco and New York events.”

Goal Within Reach

According to an analysis of recently published data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the goal of creating one million women-owned businesses with revenues of $1 million or more by 2010 is within reach. Already, there are nearly a quarter-million businesses with revenues of $1 million or more that are at least 50% owned by a woman. Another 250,000 firms currently generate revenues between $500,000 and $999,000. About 400,000 firms with between $250,000 and $499,999 in revenues are at least 50% woman-owned.

2006 Program

Applications for the 2006 program are now being accepted on www.makemineamillion.org. Twenty awardees will be chosen on June 2 in San Francisco in the first of two major Make Mine a $Million events this year. Count Me In and OPEN will host a second event in New York City in late autumn.

Also new to the program this year, the Make Mine a $Million Business program mentoring council, consisting of leading women entrepreneurs in the U.S., will join one-on-one business counselors and professional coaches across the country to help guide awardees toward their million-dollar goal.

About Count-Me-In

Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of on-line business loans and resources for women to grow their micro businesses into $million enterprises. Find us at www.countmein.org or call 212-245-1245.

About OPEN from American Express

OPEN is the American Express team dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners and their companies. The OPEN Team supports business owners with unparalleled service. With tailored products and services, the team delivers purchasing power, flexibility, control and rewards to help customers run their business. Specifically, business owner customers can leverage an enhanced set of products, tools, services and savings, including charge and credit cards, convenient access to working capital, robust online account management capabilities and savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners. To obtain more information about OPEN(SM), visit OPEN.com, or call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a card or loan. Terms and conditions apply. (Read the rest here, and on the different above mentionned links).

Contacts: M Booth & Associates for
Count-Me-In and OPEN from American Express
Christina Friedkin, 212-481-7000
christinaf@mbooth.com;

or: OPEN from American Express
Channing K. Barringer, 212-640-0512
channing.k.barringer@aexp.com.

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