Connie Evans, Women’s Self Employment Project
“When people see a neighborhood woman starting a business…it inspires change. These women become role models for their children and for other families in the neighborhood. It’s a powerful catalyst.”
Connie Evans has pioneered powerful policies to move low-income families out of poverty. She is the founding president of longtime Ms. Foundation grantee the Women’s Self-Employment Project (WSEP), providing microenterprise training and microloans to low-income women entrepreneurs and implementing a peer lending system.
One of WSEP’s most important innovations was the CARE Entrepreneurial Training Program, which helped transition women welfare recipients into becoming business owners by training them as home-based child care providers, simultaneously helping to improve access to affordable, quality child care in their communities. Participants were guided in a twelve-week program to develop business plans and earn their child care license. CARE provided a $1,500 line of credit and other services, such as Individual Development Accounts that match savings to offset business expenses or buy a home.
Connie is an important example of the Ms. Foundation’s legacy of trusting grassroots leaders by investing early and with significant resources. Connie contributed to the Ms. Foundation-supported book Kitchen Table Entrepreneurs: How Eleven Women Escaped Poverty and Became Their Own Bosses and served on our Board of Directors.
Connie went on to influence policy on a larger scale. She has received appointments from President Clinton, the U.S. Delegation to preparatory meetings for the Summit of the Americas, the U.S. Delegation to preparatory meetings for the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and for Beijing Plus Five.