Recognizing Our Region's Trailblazing Women Entrepreneurs

Carly Viegut

March 29, 2023

At the Entrepreneur Fund, supporting women entrepreneurs is at the core of our mission. Founded by an impressive visionary woman, Mary Mathews, and guided by a leadership team and board that’s made up of 50% women, we understand that women-led businesses are an important driver of innovation and growth in their communities. 

In the United States, 40% of all small businesses are owned by women. In 2022, of the more than 1,600 entrepreneurs EFund partnered with, 60% were women.   

Women entrepreneurs in our region are creating exciting opportunities for themselves and for others. From tech startups to independent consulting firms, these trailblazers are proving that women are at the forefront of driving our regional economy. 

In Little Falls, Adelle Starin, owner of Baby's on Broadway, has grown her retail business and expanded her market by becoming an accredited durable medical equipment provider to service mothers across the nation in accessing breast pumps billed through insurance. 

In Duluth, firms like Giant Voices provide marketing services to a national client base under the ownership of three dynamic women: Lisa Bodine, Pascha Apter and Jena Mertz.  

In Eveleth, Shelly Holmes owns Mahkahta Trucking, which focuses on highway heavy road construction. Over the past decade she has exponentially grown her business to become competitive for contracts through the Minnesota Department of Transportation. She also invests heavily in being a mentor for fellow women in her field.  

"Shelly is an outstanding employer throughout the Iron Range, she has great character and helps other business owners for the greater good. She wants to see the Iron Range succeed and wants to see every small business owner succeed.” – Michael Lattery, Director of Business Finance, Entrepreneur Fund 

In Grand Rapids, Megan Kellin, owner of Lake & Co. and an EFund board member, saw an opportunity to celebrate and elevate the region’s lake culture by building a lifestyle brand, beginning with a magazine then adding retail shops that celebrate the people, places and products of lake country. 

“When I was in start-up mode, I recognized there was untapped potential all over the region. Women with exceptional talent, who wanted to be part of creating something new and didn’t want to necessarily work in our traditional industries.” - Megan Kellin

In Baxter, Janelle Riley of Syvantis Technologies has built a world-class managed services technology firm that has invested in training an impressive workforce and employs dozens across central and northeast Minnesota. 

"You have to invest in your people to grow your business.” – Janelle Riley 

We invite those who have the capacity to do so, to invest in women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses. Whether it is capital, technical support, mentorship or buying power we all can help level the small business playing field so that our women leaders can continue to grow and thrive.

Supporting women entrepreneurs, recognizing their economic achievements and getting timely resources to these often-under-appreciated leaders is not just the right thing to do – it’s good for all of our communities and economic well-being. 

Learn more about our Women's Business Alliance program.

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