SPARK Entrepreneurial Program Orientation Scheduled

Women's Entrepreneurial Initiative SPARK

Interested in learning more about SPARK and the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI)? Please contact Martha Smith, project director of WEI at (574) 284-5262 or

Media contact:
Gwen O’Brien
Director of Media Relations
Saint Mary’s College
(574) 284-4579

August 19, 2014 (Notre Dame, Ind.)—The Saint Mary’s College Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) is proud to announce the fall session of the SPARK entrepreneurship training program. SPARK is intended to assist local under-resourced, high-potential female entrepreneurs and artists to “spark” or launch successful businesses. Candidates must apply in person at a mandatory 2-hour orientation and screening session at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, September 10 in room 145 of Spes Unica Hall. Click for a campus map.  

SPARK is an 11-week session that offers a morning or evening track. Classes are scheduled to meet from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting on Tuesday, September 16 and ending on Tuesday, December 2. The cost of the session is $150.

SPARK is focused on helping women create a corporate identity and a business plan, implement marketing strategies and promotional materials, and learn skills in time management, bookkeeping, attaining a business loan, and general success strategies. Since the first SPARK program began in 2011, 81 women have gone through it, and 14 have launched and sustained businesses. Those who participate are fondly called “SPARKlers.”

Modeled after a San Francisco non-profit called the Women’s Initiative, SPARK’s mission is “to cultivate an entrepreneurial capacity in women... to advance them beyond socio-economic boundaries and achieve self-sufficiency.” This happens through education, business training, and ongoing professional mentoring. Established business owners in the region lead the SPARK classes and, as mentors, teach best practices to the budding entrepreneurs. South Bend SCORE Chapter 0266 offers ongoing professional mentoring.

Those interested in more information about being involved in SPARK as a participant, facilitator, mentor, or volunteer can email Martha Smith, WEI’s program director, at No calls please.

About the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI): The Department of Business Administration and Economics and the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership at Saint Mary’s College launched WEI in 2010 after the College received a $245,000 Small Business Administration grant to support women’s entrepreneurship in the region. Though the grant has expired, WEI is sustained through the generosity of Jack Ruhe, professor emeritus of business, alumnae, NIPSCO, The Pokagon Fund, and local banks including 1st Source, and PNC. WEI partners with community businesses, non-profits, and other organizations to provide financial and business education services to women entrepreneurs. WEI is pronounced "we."

About Saint Mary’s College: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., is a four-year, Catholic, residential, women’s liberal arts college offering five bachelor’s degrees and more than 30 major areas of study, such as business, nursing, art, chemistry, and social work. The College’s single-gender environment has been proven, in study after study, to foster confidence, ethical leadership, and strong academic success. Saint Mary's College ranks 76 among the top 100 “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” for 2014 published by U.S. News. Founded in 1844 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Saint Mary’s College’s mission is to educate women and prepare them for postgraduate success whether it’s a first job, graduate school, or postgraduate service.