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Women-Owned Small Businesses: Empowering Growth and Innovation

7/1/2024 10:00:15 AM

Women-owned small businesses are a vital part of the global economy, contributing significantly to job creation, innovation, and economic growth. Despite the challenges, women entrepreneurs are increasingly stepping into leadership roles, driving change, and making substantial impacts in various industries. In this blog, we'll explore the current state of women-owned small businesses, the challenges they face, and the opportunities available for growth and support. 

Women-owned businesses are growing rapidly. According to the most recent Census Bureau data, Women own more than 12 million businesses and employ over 10.7 million workers, reflecting a steady increase over the past decade. These businesses span a wide range of industries, from retail and healthcare to professional services and technology. 

Women-owned businesses have been showing significant growth across various industries. Notably, from 2019 to 2023, sectors like finance, insurance, real estate, transportation, and the warehouse industry saw the most substantial growth (50%). In addition, women owned businesses are predicted to contribute about 6% to the anticipated global economic growth.   

Despite the progress, women entrepreneurs continue to face unique challenges. One of the biggest being access to small business loans. The Small Business Administration found that women are 3x more likely to be denied for a business loan compared to men. Men are also more likely to receive a business loan over $150k. 76% of men received a loan over $150k, while only 18% of women received loans for that amount. On the flip side, no males received a loan for less than $10,000, but 15% of women did.  

Work-life balance is another hurdle most faced by women entrepreneurs. Balancing business responsibilities with personal and family obligations is a significant challenge. Deloitte’s Women @ Work report highlights that in addition to their own workload, or in this case, owning their own business, many working women bear the greater responsibility for domestic work at home. 

Women entrepreneurs also frequently lack access to robust professional networks and mentorship opportunities. According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, this lack of support can hinder business growth and development. 

Women often encounter gender bias and stereotypes in the business world. The Harvard Business Review discusses how these biases can affect women's confidence and opportunities for advancement. 

Despite these challenges, numerous opportunities and resources are available to support women-owned businesses. Various organizations and programs offer funding specifically for women entrepreneurs. One resource available to women is the Maxx You Grant 2024 Scholarship. In partnership with TJ Maxx’s The Maxx You Project, Dress for Success has established the Maxx You Grants, a scholarship program made available to women within the organization’s network. Women looking to continue or pursue education are invited to apply! 

Networking groups provide platforms for women to connect, share experiences, and grow their businesses. Many local networking groups can be found here. If you’re looking to get involved with like-minded women, you may be interested in our EmpowerHER program! Our monthly networking group meets to discuss a wide variety of topics. This month’s topic is “Launching Your Food Business to Success” with Terri Heist from the Findlay Market Kitchen. All women are invited to attend, no matter where you may be in your professional or personal journey. 

Government initiatives like the Small Business Administration also offer various programs to support women-owned businesses, including training, counseling, and financial assistance. 

Women-owned small businesses are essential drivers of economic growth and innovation. While challenges persist, the increasing support from various sectors provides a promising outlook for the future. By continuing to advocate for equitable access to resources, funding, and mentorship, we can help empower more women entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams and contribute to a thriving global economy. 

By leveraging these resources and continuing to support women entrepreneurs, we can pave the way for a more inclusive and prosperous business landscape.