*In light of celebrating Women’s History Month, we have Spencer Petterson of BOC Network and BOC Capital, who is here to share her story and empower women entrepreneurs to take advantage of the opportunities that she is able to provide. Spencer leads and manages workshops that support women entrepreneurs in accessing capital for their small business, including programs like Women Entrepreneurs: Master Money Funding, which develops strong networks and motivation to grow!
March marks the Spring Equinox, the Oscars, and St. Patrick’s Day, but is that all we look forward to? Not by the least! The month of March in particular celebrates Women’s History Month, and all of the ways in which women have contributed socially and economically in society. Though originally compressed in a week, the National Women’s History Project petitioned to expand this celebration throughout the entire month of March and has been backed by both the House and the Senate every year since.
Below is a discussion with Spencer Petterson, Program Manager of Women Entrepreneurs: Master Money Funding, the Business Growth Accelerator Program, and the Business Peer Exchange Program, among others.
Let’s start off with where you are from and your experience growing up?
I grew up in NYC, a little east of Union Square. I take pride in being a New Yorker – we are an expansive community packed with culture and diversity. New York means the world to me!
That’s exciting! How did you become involved in BOC Network/BOC Capital?
I joined in 2015. I was looking for a job with an organization committed to mobilizing capital behind conscientious businesses, and ensuring individuals from all backgrounds could have access to that experience. BOC Network and BOC Capital provide support services and funding to business owners from traditionally underserved groups so they can achieve economic stability and growth, and I feel very aligned with that mission!
What’s one role you play at BOC Network/ BOC Capital?
One of the programs that I manage is Women’s Entrepreneurs (WE) Master Money: Funding. WE Master Money: Funding is part of New York City’s Department of Small Business Services WE NYC initiative. WE NYC is dedicated to helping women start and grow their businesses. As the delivery partner for WE Master Money: Funding, we introduce participants to funding sources outside of standard banks, which includes CDFI’s (i.e. BOC Capital Corp.) and crowdfunders. Our workshop facilitators work really closely with participants to build self-confidence and a sense of community. The goal is for these women to have a stronger understanding of the funding process.
“I feel it’s really important to make sure women feel comfortable and inspired to know that finding capital outside [of banks] is an option for them.”
What is a common problem you encounter while working with women entrepreneurs?
Many of the women I work with have trouble finding access to capital — either they’re unaware of the various funding sources available to small business owners, or they don’t feel comfortable asking for money for their business. But this shouldn’t hold women-owned businesses back from growth. One of the programs I work with, WE: Money Master Funding, focuses on making sure people understand how to assess their creditworthiness through the eyes of a funder. It’s our goal that students leave the classroom knowing their next steps and that they have a team to support them. For a pre-startup, that can mean heading to a business library to conduct more extensive market research and getting feedback from a business counselor. Existing businesses frequently commit to improving their cash flow statements, preparing financial projections, and following up with funding representatives who present at the workshop.
It makes me really happy to see participants stay after class, whether that’s exchanging business cards or getting more in-depth about specific business practices or sharing advice. It’s equally exciting to see past participants weeks later sitting down in our office with BOC Capital Loan officers.
Who are your key role models?
I’ve always been inspired by the community entrepreneurs create. My family is packed with entrepreneurial spirit. Growing up, I saw firsthand how small businesses foster community among their employees, their customers and other stakeholders in their neighborhood.
Also, I feel empowered working for a female Executive Director. Over her 20 years creating and leading BOC, Nancy Carin has established herself as an innovator in the community economic development field. She is 100% dedicated to BOC’s clients and employees. I am impressed by her ability to manage the strategic planning of the organization while still making time to offer one-on-one support to clients. Co-facilitating WE Master Money: Funding with Nancy is always a blast!
What is one piece of advice you have for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs?
To own it, right! Be confident. It is so important to recognize the value of your expertise, experience, and vision!
The opportunity to highlight different women across a variety of professions, and hear their stories of success doesn’t have to stop in March — recognizing important women and how they have impacted local communities is a commitment BOC is willing to make. Spencer Petterson is one of BOC’s influential key staff, whose mission is to leverage access to capital for and improve the financial literacy of women entrepreneurs. Our next step is to expand and create programs that will empower various communities of women throughout NYC. What’s yours?
*The following was written by Monique Keith, Social Media Intern.