At the new Women’s Business Center Nashville, executive director Bistany Bass serves as a sort of therapist.
“I’m talking to them about their business, their baby, something that they love and cherish,” she says. “I’m trying to help them with that but also recognizing, ‘hey you might have a problem here.’ You have to do it very delicately.”
Bass says the center will focus on start-ups and growing businesses, offering business consulting, speakers and networking opportunities. Thanks to grant funding, all of the services are free.
“I see my purpose as not to recreate what’s already here in Nashville, but to let people know what’s available to them and get them the resources that they need,” Bass says.
The center opened in February inside the WB Collective coworking space in SoBro, which was established by the Women’s Business Enterprise Council South in 2020. The Women’s Business Center Nashville combines funding from WBEC South and the federal Small Business Administration. (Local small business lender Pathway Lending previously used the SBA funding to establish a Women’s Business Center and has since pivoted to educational courses.)
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, which provides women-owned business certification, also held its annual conference in Nashville in March.
Bass has had a varied career but says a throughline in her work is the desire to help people. She went to pharmacy school during what she described as the height of Big Pharma and left to pursue law school in an effort to make a change. After graduating, she worked as an adoption attorney. When her mother fell ill, Bass left law practice to help her run her company. She got a crash course in running a business, but her family’s business ultimately isn’t what she wanted to pursue.
Because of her own experiences, Bass is passionate about helping female entrepreneurs develop succession plans and contingency plans for illness. She also has a heart for “solopreneurs,” women who own their own company and don’t have any employees.
“Part of the reason why the Women’s Business Center is here is because of the fact that women are already at a disadvantage when it comes to getting funds and when it comes to trying to do work-life balance,” Bass says.
Her goal for the center is to foster a lot of successful startups — to help women get loans and get their doors open — but sometimes the counseling is about balancing it all.