VEDC is proud to announce Leanna Jenkins as the winner of the Small Business Administration’s 2016 Women’s Business Advocate of the Year!

About Leanna

Leanna Jenkins has fought as an advocate for the success of small businesses from a young age. A Nevada native, Leanna grew up in a household stimulated by small business: a retail dress shop owned and operated by her parents. After her time working with Nevada Corporate Planners, where she designed, planned and established small business milestones to track and assess small business needs, Leanna began working with NMI as Program Manager, committed to training new entrepreneurs to develop their own small businesses. In 2014, she was appointed as the Director of the Nevada Women’s Business Center, where she currently works to provide vital resources to small business owners with focus on women and minority entrepreneurs.

Small Business Advocate

In her time with the Nevada Business Opportunity Fund, Leanna has served as an integral driving force to small business development, pushing the firm towards their to-date $6.4 million in alternative lending to more than 450 Nevada businesses. In her two years as Director, she’s driven NBOF to close a total of$1.8 million in direct lending, 57% of which was to minority and women-owned businesses. What’s more, in the last year, Leanna has led the Nevada Women’s Business Center and NBOF to the establishment of 41 new small businesses, and creation and retention 107 jobs.

Self-Made Success

Beyond small business and new job creation, Leanna serves entrepreneurs directly through free workshop offerings, one-on-one consulting, business plan development, QuickBooks and Excel tutorials, and various other technical assistance programs, through the Nevada Women’s Business Center, specifically catering to the individual needs of female entrepreneurs.

As an entrepreneur herself, owning her own multi-level marketing company for five years, Leanna has had her inauguration into what it takes to run a business, and called upon this knowledge through 134 delivered seminars and 545 hours of direct entrepreneurial training to other entrepreneurs. She and the Nevada Women’s Business Center have provided much-needed and extensive training via hand-crafted seminars that respond to the immediate and ever-changing needs of more than 3,000 business owners and designated 2,276 hours to one-on-one business development counseling.

Community Focus

Leanna’s contributions to the development of small business don’t end there. In 2013, Leanna, NBOF and VEDC hosted the inaugural Where’s the Money? Access to Capital Business Expo in Las Vegas. Already a staple event in other markets, this first-time-ever Las Vegas expo aimed to offer in-need entrepreneurs with not only access to valuable information, resources, resource partners, and capital, but also the ability to learn directly from professionals across several financial service industries. With one-on-one financial assessments available on-site, this unprecedented networking event and luncheon served as an opportunity to give small business owners on-the-spot loan preapproval and leverage their available Nevada small business resources.

With bank partners (Citi, Bank of Nevada, Bank of America, City National Bank, Nevada State Bank, Mutual of Omaha Bank, UBS) and resource partners (Latin Chamber of Commerce, USDA Rural Development, Henderson Chamber of Commerce, SBA, Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Nevada, Urban Chamber of Commerce) available, the event attracted nearly 450 entrepreneurs to register.

Small Business Hero

One of the largest barriers of entry for an aspiring entrepreneur is not knowing what exactly is immediately necessary, and how much is readily available. With a passion for enterprise, and an eagerness for others’ success, Leanna constantly aims to facilitate the transition from struggling business owner to successful entrepreneur. Through classes and seminars, she provides real, honest guidance and answers to the questions entrepreneurs may not think to ask, from balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship, to accounting services and consulting. Leanna is mission-driven not just for Nevada small business survival, but for Nevada small business success.

VEDC honors Leanna’s tireless commitment to new entrepreneurs in Nevada, and thanks her for embodying the mission of VEDC every day: To create and sustain jobs and businesses in our communities by providing high-quality small business development services.

Congratulations, Leanna, and thank you for everything you do!