99designs recently published the results of their survey of 3,000 entrepreneurs around the world. Their research lays out the challenges women entrepreneurs face in raising capital, with women being nearly half as likely as men to raise $100,000 in funding. While women and men face similar challenges, fundraise in similar ways, and have businesses distributed relatively equally across industries, women are far more likely to have fewer employees and less capital. "Studies in the US have also shown that women-led companies perform twice as well as those led by men and that female-founded companies create more than 60 percent more value for investors than those founded by men. Having more women entrepreneurs is also a vital part of tackling the pay gap and the funding gap that we are seeing between men and women.
The National Women's Business Council's study, Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and their Service of Women Entrepreneurs, evaluates small business opportunity through an "entrepreneurial ecosystem" framework. This approach is effective in enabling stakeholders to understand the overall environment of their local economy, including everything from capital access to underserved populations to availability of resource centers and support.
Evaluating the overall environment for women entrepreneurs is imperative to finding the right combination of resources to support women business owners.
The California State Assembly is currently considering legislation to support small business development in the state. AB 2463, the "Small Business Assistance Act of 2018." This bill would create the California Small Business Assistance Program under the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), with the goal of assisting small businesses by forging partnerships with existing federal small business technical assistance centers, providing grants to them to maximize collaboration and impact. AB 2463 makes specific mention of the Women’s Business Center Program and its successful track record.
The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) released a paper recognizing the 30th anniversary of H.R. 5050 "Women's Business Ownership Act," a bill that NAWBO helped pass in 1988 to give women more rights as business owners. Until that point, women were required to have husbands, brothers, or other male relatives co-sign on loans, and had little access to business assistance programs. Aside from requiring banks to end discriminatory lending against women, H.R. 5050 established the Women's Business Center Program and the National Women's Business Council. Now, more than 100 Women's Business Centers stretch across the United States, providing services to the more than 2 million women who have started and expanded their own businesses. Despite these successes, women still have difficulty getting the financing they need, with only 4% of commercial lending dollars going to women, and women start businesses with half as much capital as men.