CEI Names Ruth Feldman to Women’s Business Center Post for Rural Maine

Machias, Maine- Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) has named Ruth Feldman as Program Director of the Women’s Business Center at CEI with a focus on rural Maine. She joins a team providing advice to women entrepreneurs across the state since 1995, when the Women’s Business Center at CEI was founded.

Through the Women’s Business Center, business owners access  critical resources to support their new or existing businesses. Services include one-on-one advising, workshop facilitation, and resource coordination on a range of topics including business planning, business financing, marketing techniques and sustainable growth. Ruth’s work targets women in Maine’s most rural regions including Androscoggin, Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo and Washington counties; and the island communities of Knox County. Entrepreneurs seeking advice from the Women’s Business Center at CEI are matched with an advisor based on their business needs. CEI advisors work throughout the state by phone and web conference, as well as in person.

Four out of every 10 businesses in the United States are now women-owned, according to the latest State of Women Owned Business report from American Express. Yet these businesses employ 8% of the total private sector workforce and contribute 4.3% of total revenues.

Data shows that women entrepreneurs continue to experience barriers to success, including access to capital, and challenges in growing their businesses’ revenues and number of employees. Ruth and the Women’s Business Center team work to improve equal opportunity to women small business owners.

Andrea Kendall worked closely with the Women’s Business Center to advance her career and launch her own business.  While she was raising her family, Andrea worked a variety of minimum wage jobs, as a cashier, a salmon pen net mender, and office worker/manager. A licensed social worker since 1997, Andrea chose to leave her position with the State of Maine Department of Health and Human Services at the age of 62. The job search that followed was unsuccessful, so Andrea made the decision to branch out on her own and start her own business. “My biggest worry was whether or not I had the smarts in me or enough business acumen to do it,” said Andrea. A year after she started working with the Women’s Business Center, Andrea launched Kendall Community Case Management Agency in Pembroke, a case management firm serving clients with intellectual disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorders.

“When a woman is economically healthy, her family and by extension her community is healthy too,” said Sarah Guerette, Director of the Women’s Business Center at CEI. “For rural Maine, it can be a bigger challenge for women to access experienced business role models and mentors. The positive impact of successful small businesses and the good jobs they create bring prosperity to communities. At the Women’s Business Center at CEI we are here to help.”

Ruth has worked as an organizational development professional for over 20 years, leading her consulting firm SEED (Social, Entrepreneurial Expertise & Development). She has traveled the world providing services to help entrepreneurs design, cultivate and grow their visions, including as a Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova, former Soviet Union specializing in Small Business and NGO Development. Ruth is a graduate of Hampshire College and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

In the past 15 years, over 8,200 entrepreneurs have received advice from The Women’s Business Center at CEI, which has helped them start 380 businesses, create or retain 1,425 jobs and access $33 million in capital.

About CEI

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) helps to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises and shared prosperity in Maine and in rural regions across the country by integrating financing, business and industry expertise, and policy solutions. CEI envisions a world in which communities are economically and environmentally healthy, enabling all people, especially those with low incomes, to reach their full potential. More at www.ceimaine.org

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