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WBO – The Beginning

The North Florida Association of Women Business Owners was formed in July 1981. The purpose of the organization was to:

      • Encourage ownership by women in business.
      • Encourage and support women who own and operate businesses.
      • Provide a voice for women who own and operate businesses.
      • Foster the economic stability of businesses owned and operated by women.
      • Foster training, technical assistance and other learning opportunities specifically orientated toward the needs of women in business.
      • Serve as a vehicle for making available group benefits in areas such as credit, insurance, financing and purchasing to members of the association.
      • Provide a system for sharing and disseminating information on and of interest to women in business.
      • Increase the general visibility of women in business.
      • Encourage the adoption of a referral system of potential clients or customers to appropriate women owned businesses in the community.
      • Encourage and support the adoption of legislation which will benefit businesses that are owned by women.

I’m not sure of the exact date the name was changed to Women Business Owners of North Florida, Inc., but I believe it was sometime in 1988 or 1989.

About 10 to 12 years ago, I was privileged to have a great conversation with Kersten Chelius, a Founding Member of WBO and President in 1988. For many years Kersten facilitated the Regents Round Table at Epping Forest and started the Beaches Breakfast. We talked about why WBO began. She told me that several women had difficulties getting financing for their business unless their husbands would sign for the financing. Some of the women had difficulties getting contracts for their businesses, obtaining insurance, and other obstacles in growing their businesses. They decided to get together to discuss these issues and other issues that women business owners were experiencing, and to share ideas for juggling the responsibilities of home and family on top of their business responsibilities. So, WBO was born in July 1981.

Kersten Chelius remained an Active member of WBO until she sold her business a few years ago. She is now an Honorary Member of WBO.

Patsy Underwood

President, Atlantic Laser


2004 WBO Service Award
2000-2001 President WBO
2000 Woman Business Owner of the Year

WBO is recognized as the official women's entrepreneurial organization in North Florida, increasing recognition of women business owners and their successes and encouraging ownership by women in business. Our Mission is to inspire women business owners to grow through networking, education, and support.

P.O. Box 16372

Jacksonville, FL 32245

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