Women Entrepreneurs and Women Bankers: A Powerful Duo
By Lisa Salazar, Chief Deposit Officer at Bridgewater Bank
When starting a new company or venture, entrepreneurs have a lot on their minds. Building client bases, identifying a market, finalizing their product, and networking are all important tasks for building a business from the ground up. What is less apparent—though no less important—are the day-to-day responsibilities of paying employees and capitalizing on cash flow. And it is these challenges, along with financing needs, that often initially bring entrepreneurs to banks.
As bankers, we work alongside entrepreneurs, providing insight, responsive support, and simple solutions that meet their unique needs. Entrepreneurs are often visionaries who are very skilled at what they do but need a banker to help navigate the unknown.
This entrepreneur-banker relationship is nothing new to our Chief Deposit Officer, Lisa Salazar, who has been on the client-facing side of banking for nearly thirty years. “Much has changed,” Lisa reflects. “One very notable and encouraging trend is the increase of women entrepreneurs. Although women entrepreneurs are nothing new, we have noticed a significant surge in numbers over the last couple of decades.”
Despite this increase of women entrepreneurs, they are an underserved market when it comes to banking. “At Bridgewater, we understand that when women thrive, the whole business community benefits.” Lisa underscores, “As a bank whose team is over 50% women, empowering women is something we are uniquely passionate about. We are dedicated to filling the gap and are excited to be the bank of choice for women-owned business.”
She continues, “It’s not only something Bridgewater is passionate about; it’s an area we excel in. We believe women entrepreneurs and women bankers are a powerful duo who can knock down barriers, break glass ceilings, and transform the Twin Cities business community together.”
So, what sets Bridgewater apart when it comes to serving women entrepreneurs?
Empowering Women is Part of our DNA
Both business and banking have been largely male-dominated areas for much of history. This is changing. One unique aspect of Bridgewater is that over half our team is made up of women, a rare thing to find in the banking industry. We're also proud to say female manager representation is 56%, a testament to the Bank’s belief that women in the workplace help businesses win.
As a bank, we believe women in business is important. First, diversity—especially in male-dominated fields—is good. This drives innovation and breaks down stereotypes. Women’s unique perspectives and experiences lead to creative solutions and valuable perspective.
Additionally, seeing women in leadership roles inspires future generations. Lisa expands, “Seeing women in leadership positions breaks down stereotypes, ignites ambitions, and rewrites the narrative. It empowers young women to dream bigger and chase careers in any field. This fuels our unwavering commitment to walk alongside women entrepreneurs and business leaders."
Women Bankers Who Understand Women’s Distinct Needs
It’s always important for bankers and entrepreneurs to understand one another. And, many times, women are left feeling unseen and misunderstood. When it comes to women entrepreneurs specifically, Lisa shares, “When the general public thinks about business owners or entrepreneurs, people tend to assume that men are in those seats […] It’s almost this unconscious bias that businesses are run by men. The same bias can be found in banking.” Yet, at Bridgewater, our impressive lineup of strong female bankers challenges that stereotype.
Still, the bias can be intimidating to some, which only underscores the significance of women entrepreneurs having the opportunity to work with women bankers. According to Lisa, “For a women business owner or entrepreneur, it’s important that they are taken seriously; therefore, the connection formed between women bankers and entrepreneurs is powerful.
Lisa explains, “It’s a game-changer for a women business owner to see a women banker in a position that can help guide and foster her business. It's not only about expertise; it's a shared perspective, a mutual understanding of the obstacle's women in business face, and the unwavering belief in her potential. It's a safe space to strategize, build, and break down barriers together." This powerful connection is what makes women entrepreneurs and women bankers a powerful duo.
Intentional Networking Opportunities for Women in Business
As entrepreneurs ourselves, we understand the importance of networking. As a bank who is networked and constantly networking, we are intentional about creating opportunities for all our clients to connect with likeminded professionals and forge new connections.
A strong network is a catalyst on the road to success. Not only do connections play a significant and practical role in business success, but the camaraderie of a network adds additional value that is priceless. Everyone is human. Everyone needs a support system to help them navigate the world of business.
That’s why we intentionally support women by hosting a compelling range of women-only networking events that bring clients together in unconventional ways to foster existing connections and make new ones. Bridgewater’s networking events are educational, enjoyable, and beneficial for all involved. “We are making a very intentional effort to bring everyone together to experience the power of a strong network,” says Lisa. “We’ve witnessed firsthand the power of a robust network of women coming together to intentionally learn from each other and support one another. It is truly inspirational.”
At Bridgewater, we understand that entrepreneurs face a unique set of challenges. They are specialists, equipped to deal with the issues of their field. Bankers can help them with the rest. No matter the entrepreneur, Bridgewater’s and Lisa’s focus is the same: “My business is to make sure that you have the tools you need so your business runs smoothly on the backside.” From cash flow management to loan options, our expertise frees entrepreneurs to focus on what they do best: building and growing their vision. As the Finest Entreprenurial Bank in the Twin Cities, we are proud to offer an unparallelled banking experience.
When it comes to women entrepreneurs, we recognize they often face an additional, unique set of challenges. That's why we are dedicated to and intentional about elevating Twin Cities women and maximizing their business's success. We believe that women bankers and women entrepreneurs are a powerful duo, and together, make a positive impact that paves the way for future generations of women.