In 1975, a group of women came together with one thing in common: They couldn't apply for a business loan because of their sex. Dawn Goonetilleke said that back then, a woman needed her husband or son to cosign for the loan.
A band of women formed and advocated for change. These women were instrumental in getting former President Ronald Reagan to pass the Women's Business Ownership Act in 1988. The act established the National Women's Business Council, a non-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the president, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
It also created the Women's Business Centers, a national network of more than 100 educational centers throughout the Unites States and its territories. The centers are designed to assist women in starting and growing small businesses.
The women who spearheaded these monumental changes formed the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). Last October, the Central Coast officially began its chapter of the organization, with Goonetilleke as its current president.
"I wanted a way to give back to the community, and I was also looking for a network of women to connect with," Goonetilleke said.
What started out as five women getting coffee and brainstorming the beginning of an affiliate in the area, has grown to more than 30 members. These individuals' professions include holistic doctor, business owner, event planner, photographer, realtor, marketing, and animal care.
Goonetilleke said the organization has been a source for women at various stages in their careers to share experiences, knowledge, and tips with one another.
She's a realtor and has found that women in the organization have become her confidantes.
"Being able to come together across all industries is so good and empowering. You learn so much from each other, and you also give back a lot to people starting out," she said.
The Central Coast chapter meets once a month for a meal and a guest speaker. It's a time to learn about the ever-changing and growing business world and how women can work together to tackle it.
Lindsey McConaghy, the chapter's membership director, said the organization gave her the confidence to start her public relations business—Mande Public Relations. She moved to the Central Coast from London in 2017 and had a lot of doubt with the start of her business. But through the local chapter, she met people in her community who were successful.
"It was really game-changing for me because seeing someone that's relatable to you changes your perspective," McConaghy said.
Goonetilleke and McConaghy agree that the members have formed a tribe of support and knowledge that they can only hope will continue to grow with time.
"There is a need for it, there are so many people in this community that I know that are business owners. The main goal is to support women in business and to have that support network," Goonetilleke said.
She said the chapter supports all business owners—men and women. For more information about NAWBO Central Coast, visit the chapter's Facebook page.
• Performance Athletics Gymnastics is offering a free class called Rollie Pollies for babies and their parents or caregivers, every Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. The 30-minute class is designed to promote bonding between baby and parent/caregiver while laying a foundation for a lifetime of movement. Parents are encouraged to register in advance; to learn more about the program call (805) 547-1496. The gymnastics center is located on 5995 Broad St., SLO.
• Cal Poly Construction Management students are now building tiny cabins on wheels each quarter to help house homeless individuals in Hope's Village of San Luis Obispo's soon-to-be sustainable community village. Two classes are building two tiny houses—one quarter, the students build the foundation, and the next quarter is for the walls. To learn more about Hope's Village and their project visit hopesvillageofslo.com. Δ
Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to.