BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Small Business Administration (SBA) is pushing for equal access to opportunities for women in STEM. One local tech company is at the forefront of that effort.
The 2020 US Census reports women are still vastly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math workforce. Only about 25 percent of STEM jobs are held by women. The number of women-owned businesses is even lower.
Nexus La Louisiana Technology Park is using the $50,000 grant to help businesses with a six-week mentoring and networking course.
“They’re providing the grants to help grow entrepreneurs in the entire country, so we received we were the only ones to receive it here in Baton Rouge. So our goal here is to help entrepreneurs move to the next level, no matter where they are, whether they’re early-stage startups or maybe on the growth pattern. We want to provide them whatever tools they need to move forward,” said Nexus La Louisiana Technology Park Executive Director Stephen Loy.
One of these companies that benefited from the grant is Basic Fitness, which is a women-led business in Baton Rouge.
“It was a great launching pad to help us go from like kind of where we were to where we are now and now we have a clear vision for where we want to go. It was a phenomenal experience,” said Basic Fitness Co-Owner Jennifer Macha.
Their company focuses on health and technology.
“We to focus on teaching people at all levels of interest, like what that looks like, what the healthy lifestyle looks like and like she says, we train kids who want to become more athletic, even if they’re not tied to a specific sport, just like athletic movement in motion and getting healthy,” she said.
They said through this grant, they were able to learn and gain priceless experiences.
“We learned a lot about ourselves as business people, we learned a lot about our customers and some of the stuff that they made us implement for our homework per se, is stuff that we are still doing on a day to day basis,” said Basic Fitness Co-Owner Nely Ward.
Together, they’re breaking down gender barriers.
“It helps everyone kind of understand that, like it’s not just for men, like, women can do it too,” said Macha.
Application for the six-week program can be found through NexusLA.