Remarkable Women: Director of Troy University’s Small Business Development Center Juliana Bolivar

TROY, Ala (WDHN) — Juliana Bolivar, the director of Troy University’s Small Business Development Center, emerged as the winner of WDHN’s 2024 Remarkable Women contest. Renowned for her work with entrepreneurs and small businesses, Bolivar has played a large part in bolstering the economy of southeast Alabama.

Bolivar’s achievements have garnered national recognition. In 2023, she was honored as the National SBDC Network State Star in Alabama and was selected as one of America’s SBDC 40 Under 40 for her impactful work across the 10-county Wiregrass region of southeast Alabama that includes Butler, Crenshaw, Pike, Barbour, Henry, Dale, Coffee, Covington, Geneva and Houston county.

“I love to help shape the next generation of economic developers, SBDC advisors, in general business advisors to have that empathy for the entrepreneur, for the business owner, and for the business owner to understand that there are so many talented young professionals coming out and bridging that gap,” Bolivar remarked.

Under Bolivar’s leadership in 2023, Troy’s SBDC facilitated the establishment of 28 new businesses, created 52 jobs, and secured $1 million in growth capital for entrepreneurs and small business owners across southeast Alabama.

“If I don’t talk to them, I don’t understand that we still, even if we don’t believe it, have so many businesses in rural Alabama that are not on the internet, they don’t have an online presence at all,” Bolivar explained. “We still have many businesses that would benefit from online marketing education or hands-on support. We still have gaps in information from regulatory procedures that businesses would need to follow. So, taking the calls and just partnering my entrepreneur with my business advisor is what makes me understand what is needed.”

A mother of one with another on the way, a wife, a provider, and a caregiver, Bolivar draws strength from her compassion and ability to empathize.

“The level of empathy and connection with my clients, as a daughter, I know the path that my parents had to walk, as a mom and dad of three and as the mom of a ten-year-old and expecting mom, I know all the things we do for our families, but we also have our personal dreams as entrepreneurs,” Bolivar shared.

Her empathy translates into a commitment to continued growth of her own knowledge and abilities.

“I like to talk to the people we serve, so every call that we receive, every sign-up that we get in the system at least talks to me one time because I want to know what it is that the community feels, what does it need, what we’re not covering, how we can do better,” Bolivar emphasized.

In her office, a painting of General Simon Bolivar, a Venezuelan military and political leader, adorns the wall. Bolivar draws inspiration from his dedication to freedom and liberation, which resonates with her mission of financial liberation for others.

“I take inspiration in all the battles that he picked because he truly believed in freedom, and sometimes I don’t think people understand how free we are. So, taking advantage of that right in helping other people use it is definitely very inspirational,” Bolivar concluded.

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