Today I would like to provide you a brief look back on 2011 for the WBEA including our successes, challenges and survey results. This will be followed with our direction for 2012.
2011 in Review
The Houston Galveston Women’s Business Center is up and running on all cylinders. The Business Plan training has been a huge success, with several of the WBC clients receiving feedback from potential funding sources. We introduced a new event in 2011, Trade Secrets that was well attended and generated a lot of energy towards WBE and Corporate members working together. Our membership online database went live in June. We certified 128 new WBE’s. Seven new corporate members joined WBEA in the industry sectors of service, transportation, construction and technology. We initiated our social media campaign “Connecting the Dots” which highlights WBE to WBE business in November.
We did incur additional expenses in support of the Women’s Business Center and our larger office space. We had a drop in both sponsorship and attendance in our main events which impacted our financials negatively. For the year our expenses exceeded our revenues by approximately $80,000. However, the WBEA is still very strong financially with ample cash reserves due to the strong stewardship of past and present board members.
We had a large percent of our board roll off in 2011. However the new board is really stepping up their game. We have committed to monthly board meetings as opposed to our bi-monthly meetings. Each of our board members are becoming more active by agreeing to be champion of either a committee or one of our key initiatives for 2012. The board has begun meeting with all the committee chairs as a group at least 2-3 times per year. The board established a new tag line for the WBEA – “Making Connections Count”. We also elected new officers, Otto O. Meyers III, Shell Oil Company as the Corporate Vice President and Diedria Joseph, Topp Knotch Personnel, Inc. as the WBE Vice President.
As promised I wanted to report back to you, our members on the survey we conducted with the WBE’s in the 4th quarter of 2011.
We doubled the response rate from last year’s survey which increases the validity of the feedback. The trends of this survey were very similar to previous surveys. The good news is we probably don’t need to survey you again for a few years. The not so good news is we still have some of the same issues.
Themes from the survey include the following:
· We do well at certification, re-certification, providing networking educational opportunities
· Need for improved communications & responsiveness
· Desire for more business opportunities with Corporate members
· Desire for more visibility in the community
Survey data that was specific to a committee has been passed on to them to help them incorporate this feedback in future offerings.
Direction for 2012
Using the survey data and the output from the Trade Secrets event the board reviewed our current strategies and found that our strategies were still well aligned but we needed to focus on some key changes in how we operate.
The specific focus initiatives we will be taking on include the following:
· Development and execution of Strategic Communication plan that will include both internal and external communication components and with an increase in our marketing budget
· Evaluation of our primary events to improved effectiveness and execution. Our upcoming annual conference in May is an example of updating one of our existing programs.
· Identification of how we can engage our inactive WBE members with the right events and education opportunities. We have coined them as “the silent majority”. The Forum committee is spearheading this effort through planned face to face engagements.
These focus initiatives are well aligned with our tag line “Making Connections Count” and can be found on the links below along with our strategies and the survey summary.
In closing, I would like to thank the WBE members, corporate members, committees, volunteers, sponsors, WBEA staff and the Board for their contributions to the success of the WBEA in 2011. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this organization and look forward to the challenges we will encounter in 2012.
Kelly R. Mortensen
President - WBEA Board of Directors