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San Diego: WE STAR Center Trains Women Entrepreneurs


  In San Diego and El Cajon, WE’s funding of a business incubator has enabled women in low-income communities to start and strengthen over 890 local businesses. In partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) since 2006, the WE STAR Program offers comprehensive business start-up and expansion services to refugees and other local women.

As many as 60,000 women in San Diego County live in poverty. Many of these are refugees, immigrants and otherwise low-income women who may lack the language skills and training for traditional employment. In fact, more than 100,000 refugees have been legally resettled in San Diego, after fleeing violent conflict and repression. Most have lost all or most of their money and possessions and are often cut off from their native countries, cultures and family.  Refugees face severe challenges adapting to life in the United States and achieving financial independence.  Many have entrepreneurial backgrounds and have supported their families through their own business enterprises in their home countries. Many are also mothers with childcare and family responsibilities. Entrepreneurship in the U.S. provides an excellent opportunity to earn an income, and achieve economic independence.

The WE Center for STAR (Support, Training and Assistance to Refugee) Women,  a partnership between the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and WE, was created in 2006 to provide a culturally sensitive setting for refugee and low-income women to receive assistance in starting or expanding a business. Services include one-on-one intensive business counseling and technical assistance, targeted group trainings and access to business loans and grants. The STAR Center is located in the multicultural community of City Heights in San Diego.

This partnership has led to 326 business starts by low-income women entrepreneurs since 2006. Women have started microenterprises in fields such as home-based childcare, catering and food service, handcrafts, jewelry and textile sales, and beauty and wellness. More women are also taking advantage of app-based income generating opportunities. These businesses are generating income and creating jobs while enabling low-income entrepreneurs to thrive.

Meet our Women in California

Husniah | San Diego

Husniah | San Diego

Husniah, a refugee student from Afghanistan and Corpsmember with WE partner, Urban Corps of San...

Isela | San Diego

Isela | San Diego

Isela is a professional chef, entrepreneur, wife, and mother of three beautiful daughters. She has...

Vivian  |  San Diego, CA

Vivian | San Diego, CA

Vivian from San Diego, CA Honoring a Local Mother and her PerseveranceVivian is a Corpsmember and...

Join our efforts to provide women with the resources, opportunity, and support they need to achieve economic self-sufficiency.