BankPlusBy GRACE ELLIS,
Special to the Sun
At every level, BankPlus operates under the same philosophy: It’s more than a name. It’s a promise. In January 2017, the bank embarked on a mission to fulfill its promise to women across Mississippi. The Source by BankPlus was created to empower women in business by providing access to education, networking, and capital. The response has been overwhelming.
The most visible of our program’s three components is education. Tailored to fit the needs of busy women, “Coffee with The Source” and “Lunch with The Source” are educational events which provide advice and guidance to women at any stage in their careers. Women involved in a variety of industries continue to turn out in large numbers to learn more about issues relevant to them. Industry experts have spoken on topics such as financial investing, first impressions, public speaking, and starting your own business. Our educational component also extends to our social media sites and website where you can find original blog posts, articles from third party resources, and an array of other inspiration.
Networking is also an important aspect of our program. The Source recently hosted our first “After Hours with The Source”, an opportunity for participants to meet one another and connect over appetizers and cocktails. We realize the importance of fellowship and relationship-building when growing your career. These networking events create an environment in which professional women can uplift and learn from other women.
Professional success, however, often involves more than learning and networking. It requires capital as well. For this reason, we have a goal to provide $50 million in loans to women in business. This is money you can use to start a business, expand a business, or for any other business purpose. We anticipate this commitment will come as a welcome opportunity to a growing group of female entrepreneurs.
The number of women-owned businesses is growing rapidly, particularly in Mississippi where the number of women-owned firms has increased 89 percent since 2002. This growth ranks Mississippi sixth in the nation. Despite this impressive statistic, access to capital can still be the biggest hurdle women face when opening or expanding a business. Only sixteen percent of conventional small-business loans go to women entrepreneurs. We hope by providing women more access to capital, Mississippi will continue to see its number of women-owned businesses grow.
Our community embraced the program from the very beginning, starting with a group of successful Mississippi business women who agreed to serve on The Source Advisory Panel and be a resource for our participants. These women come from varied backgrounds and professions and have been quick to step up to the plate and help. Amy Head of Amy Head Cosmetics, realtor Cherry Deddens, Gee Gee Patridge of BankPlus, Jan Coulter Collins of the Madison County Business League and Foundation, Certified Public Speaker Mandi Stanley, and Janita Stewart of the Small Business Association are examples of local women serving on our Advisory Panel who have shared their expertise and advice with a packed house at our educational events.
As the program grows, professional women are reaching out asking how they can contribute. Women want to share their expertise with other women. Whether it be offers to write guest blog posts or inquiries into getting others involved, The Source has been met with open arms by an eager audience. The response has been so immense and so positive we’ve decided to expand the program. What started only a few months ago in the Jackson Metro Area will expand to DeSoto County and Tupelo by the end of the year.
When women succeed, our homes and communities are stronger. BankPlus has made an unwavering commitment to build stronger communities in everything we do. Through The Source, BankPlus continues to advance economic opportunities for women in Mississippi, and women across the state are eager to take full advantage of the offer.
For more information on The Source by BankPlus, visit our website at www.thesource.net. Bank Plus is a member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender.