Even Becky Renfro Borbolla, a kind of Fort Worth Superwoman miracle worker, was surprised.
She is the founder of Women Steering Business, a group of local women who contribute their own money to purchasing champion steers shown at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
For the most part, that’s been the purview of the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate, which has raised more than $52.7 million for the youth exhibitors since 1980.
Borbolla, vice-president of Renfro Foods, sent an email to a group of friends in January of 2013 – that’s stock show month in Fort Worth – thinking maybe 10 of them would kick in $500 and they’d have $5,000 to use at the champions’ sale.
All of a sudden, she had 75 women involved who contributed $45,000. In five years, Women Steering Business has raised $920,000 to the Stock Show sale, and will easily go over the $1 million mark this year. The organization was recognized as a group in the Great Women of Texas event by the Fort Worth Business Press.
“In a short time span, Women Steering Business has become a major player in our Junior Sale of Champions,” said Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo President and General Manager Brad Barnes. “They won’t be outworked and their efforts are making tremendous strides in supporting the educational endeavors of hundreds of youth who will be tomorrow’s livestock and food industry leaders.”
Currently, the group concentrates on buying steers from young female competitors.
“We’ve heard a lot of their stories and we look at them as these are our future business leaders and they are already learning a trade,” Barbolla said. “They get up before they go to school, feed the animal, they groom the animal to get it ready for this sale and so they are learning a trade already.”
The sale of the steers covers the cost of raising the animal and many of the young women put the money aside for education.
This is not a complicated organization. The season lasts from September through March. It is also an eclectic group and does not involve a lot of ranch women, Barbolla said. The group seeks sponsors for member events so that all the members’ contributions go to the sale
The youngest member is 28 and the oldest member is 75, and Barbolla says the younger women wanted to join to have a chance to be mentored by women who have been in the business world.
There are four levels of membership base on contributions. The entry level is $500 with free admission to all events. The other levels at $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 with various perks attached. “This past year, we had five women step up and give $10,000,” Barbolla said. “This isn't from company money. This is personal money.”
Sponsors include Capital Grill, Park Place Mercedes, Bank of Texas, Cowgirl Museum, Tiffany's, Legacy Bank and Renfro Foods.
A Nov. 15 event – Cocktails at Tiffany’s – was the first event held at the new store in Fort Worth.