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Banking on Women

Malavika Deo Graduation Ceremony

Westminster’s Banking on Women™ partnership helps female entrepreneurs find success in business

by Allyson Austin

Ever since she can remember, Malavika Deo has had a deep love for cooking. In 2023, Malavika graduated from the Banking on Women™ program at Westminster, a program that gave her the skills and confidence to transform her passion into a full-time business.

Banking on Women™, a 15-session training course sponsored by Synchrony Bank, aims to empower women in Utah to start and grow small businesses. Provided with Synchrony-sponsored scholarships, participants attend both in-person and online sessions taught by Westminster professors. Utah Microloan Fund assists with marketing and offers program graduates the opportunity to apply for business loans.

Those who attend Banking on Women™ vary widely in both the type of business they want to build and their level of experience; however, like Malavika, they all are driven by their passions to be successful.

While raising her three children, Malavika held many job titles: accountant, x-ray technician, and special- education assistant. But Malavika calls food her “first love.”

“I always gravitated toward food,” she says. “Ever since I can remember, I have loved cooking for other people.”

Though providing for her family has always come first, Malavika found ways to incorporate cooking into her life: selling samosas at an Indian store on the weekends and running a small catering business on the side.

When her youngest child was preparing for college, Malavika began to pursue a way to turn her passion for cooking into a full-time business. She offered handcrafted spice blends to her neighbors and friends to make it easy for them to create authentic Indian meals at home. In 2020, when many restaurants were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Malavika shifted her primary focus to making full meals, her spice blends continuing to provide a second revenue stream.

To navigate the challenges of a growing business, Malavika attended trainings through the Women’s Business Center of Utah, where she was encouraged to apply for Banking on Women™. Soon Malavika found herself part of a cohort of driven women, discovering new ideas, solutions to challenges, and opportunities for growth, with encouragement from dedicated instructors.

“I gained so much self-confidence through the support and encouragement I got,” she says. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt as confident about my work as I have since I attended this program.”

Synchrony has partnered with Westminster’s Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business for 14 years, helping more than 250 women build business skills and find entrepreneurial success through Banking on Women™.

According to Dean Dax Jacobson, the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business is committed to financial and business literacy for all members of the community.

“Small business owners and ‘everyday’ entrepreneurs are the backbone of our communities,” he says. “We are thrilled that the support of Synchrony and the Utah Microloan Fund has led to more cohorts of amazing entrepreneurial women each year, and we are excited for what the future of Banking on Women™ holds.”

To learn more or to apply for Banking on Women™, visit



About the Westminster Review

The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.