The CEI Women’s Business Center

Building Business Skills, Confidence and Connection for Maine’s Women


The CEI Women’s Business Center is a home for women* who want to start or grow their own business.

We work to build a network of peers, experts and advocates, who understand the challenges that disproportionately effect female entrepreneurs and provide resources to meet those challenges.

Our team will help you build the skills to be successful in business, which includes everything from accessing capital, to making strong management decisions based on a deep understanding of your financials, to having the confidence to name your price unapologetically.

We are passionate about our group courses and workshops, which encourage peer-to-peer learning and foster a sense of community.

Until further notice, we are doing ALL of our work virtually. We are offering a robust set of online courses and workshops and continuing with our 1:1 advising via phone or web. 

*CEI aligns with the definition of women and female that explicitly includes not only cis women, but also trans women and femme/feminine-identifying genderqueer and non-binary individuals.


Your Go-To Source for COVID-19 Small Business Knowledge

We are here to support your business during these uncertain times.  We know that now, more than ever, you need a supportive network, clear concise information and trusted resources.

Learn more about our COVID-specific offerings and resources here.


Our Core Programs

Focus ME

FocusME is a series of facilitated peer groups that provide a supportive network of other female business owners; a place to work on personal and professional growth, a sense of accountability, and an opportunity to learn from your peers’ experiences and expertise.  We typically offer we an Early Stage Business Peer Group and a Growth Stage Business Peer Group. We also offer FocusME 2.0 for women who have already participated in FocusME but want the additional learning and accountability another cohort can offer.

Co-hosted by The CEI Women’s Business Center and the Portland SCORE Chapter.

Propeller

Tech for everyone should be made by everyone. Female entrepreneurs continue to face unique challenges in starting and growing businesses and these challenges are amplified in the technology sector. Our goal is to help creative, problem-solving women to develop tech-based businesses and form a network that supports the participation of women in technology. Our objective: to help women to take their ideas from zero to lift-off.  No prior tech experience needed to participate.

Spokeswomen

A facilitated peer group designed to help female entrepreneurs become more persuasive and effective public speakers. Spokeswomen will help to build your comfort with speaking up in all kinds of situations that you may find yourself in as an entrepreneur — making a pitch, speaking in front of groups, interviewing, selling, negotiating, and more.  In our current reality, we’ll be focusing on online presentation and speaking skills. No matter what kind of business you own, your ability to communicate your message is essential.

Brown Bag Lunches

Regular webinars on a range of topics including marketing basics, workforce Q&A and budgeting.

Additional Course Offerings

We regularly host events and one-off courses that bring in experts to discuss the topics most important to our clients.

Other past offerings have included

  • How to Fund Your Business Strategically with the Maine Technology Institute and local funding resources throughout Maine
  • Negotiation Skills & Strategies for Female Entrepreneurs with professional mediator and attorney Diane Kenty, Esq.
  • How to Connect through the Power of Story with Maine author & speaker Elizabeth Peavey
  • Business Health Care Consultations with CEI Workforce
  • Planning for Your Future as a Small Business Owner: Succession and Retirement Planning for the Self-Employed
  • Beat Burnout -The Power of No with LCSW and business owner Hannah Curtis
  • You Need A Budget: A Technical Crash-Course and Boss Your Money: Managing Your Budget for Small Biz Success with financial coach and business owner Lynne Sommerman

Local Meet-Ups

We believe the in power of networking to encourage and build support, and a hot cup of coffee never hurts either. We hold regular networking events across the state to bring local female business owners together.  Note: these events are currently being held virtually, so brew your own favorite beverage and join us online!

  • Farmington First Friday Networking Breakfast
  • Machias First Friday BizFit Breakfast

Individualized Business Advising

Want to take what you’ve learned in our workshops to the next level – or have specific questions?

Our experienced, knowledgeable business advisors can help you at any stage of your business, from start-up to expansion to exit. Within a setting that respects your experience, skills, and learning style, we assist you in building business skills through access to timely, accurate, tailored information and resources.

The CEI Women’s Business Center offers free, confidential business advising on topics such as:

  • Business plan development
  • Financing your business: how, when, and how much
  • Business skills, such as marketing and financial management
  • Growth and expansion
  • Buying or selling a business

Want to Learn More About Upcoming Courses, Events and Networking Opportunities?

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Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic CEI offices are closed to the public. CEI staff are working remotely and want to hear from you! Please reach out to your CEI contact regarding scheduled meetings and/or any questions/concerns. Click here for a list of COVID-19 Business Resources.
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