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Women Entrepreneur Success Stories

Four out of every 10 businesses (40%) in the United States are now women-owned. These businesses employ 8% of the total private sector workforce and contribute 4.3% of total revenues. Without a doubt, women are a vital part of the economy. Yet, women entrepreneurs face significant barriers to growth and success, including lack of access to capital, gender biases in professional settings, and fewer mentorship and support options. 

Even with these barriers, the number of women-owned businesses has been growing faster than any other segment in the past decade. Today, on International Women’s Day, we’d like to highlight and recognize the women who have won the CAMEO Faces of Entrepreneurship Award for their steadfastness and resolve in making their businesses grow and thrive.


Alicia Villanueva, Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas

If several years ago you would have told Alicia Villanueva that she would be making over 40,000 tamales a month, she would not have believed you. By day she cleaned houses and did home care. Every night she dreamed of starting her own business. Since arriving in the United States in 2001, she had a passion for sharing her Mexican culture and the best way to do that was through cooking tamales.

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Bethany Smith, B Team Solutions

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but if you ask any inventor, they may say the real devil is noticing that need. Then, of course, you have to do something about it.

That’s how it was for Bethany Smith of B Team Solutions, LLC, who turned a concern for worker safety into a booming $250,000 business projected to grow even bigger thanks to a recent national distribution deal and another in the works.

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Tiffany Hoang, Circle Up Education

How do you turn a deep-seated passion for peace, justice and community engagement into a living?

This is the question Tiffany Hoang, 26, and Tyrone Botelho, 31, were asking themselves in 2014, huddled over a computer and educational materials in Botelho’s rented room in Oakland.

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Toni Ricci, Elite Dance and Performing Art Center

Toni Ricci grew up in Maine in a small town, in a poor family. Even though they didn’t have a lot of money, she started dancing when she was five years old. She fell in love with it and yes, at the age of five, she knew that she wanted to own a dance studio.

Dancing saved Toni’s life and kept her driven, despite a difficult childhood. She refused to let anything get in her way.

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Maggie Watson, Mendocino Solar

Maggie Watson and Bruce Erikson were employed by Mendocino Solar and then bought out the owner in 2005. To transition from employees to the boss, they met with West Company consultants who assisted them with financial planning, employee management, social media, and funding that included a $12,000 stimulus grant and a $95,000 business loan.

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Rebecca Weston, Sacred Mountain Spa

2012 was a rough year for Rebecca Weston. Not only did she turn 50, an often dreaded milestone in anyone’s life, but the coffee shop she’d been managing for years shut down.

Living in Siskiyou County, a beautiful, rural area with sparse industry in Northern California, few businesses and even fewer available jobs, Weston needed a new plan, and she needed it fast.

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Patty Rodriguez, SF Parking

Patty Rodriguez was studying Public Administration at the University of San Francisco when she was hired by Frank Miranda, the manager of valet parking company ExecuPark, to assist him with his administrative work. Frank became her mentor, sharing his fifteen years of experience in the parking industry as they served ExecuPark’s many clients. 

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