Obstacles to Growth
Women entrepreneurs lag woefully behind their male counterparts when it comes to their ability to get a loan. Women entrepreneurs receive only 4 percent of commercial loan dollars. What’s more, a 2016 Fundera study found that on average, those dollars come with a higher interest rate and must be paid back sooner. A recent Kauffman Foundation study found that women start businesses with roughly half the capital as men. While this is due in part to the types of businesses women tend to start, the fact remains that no matter what type of business one is in, lack of capital access inhibits growth and access to the marketplace.
WIPP (Women Impacting Public Policy) released a report in 2016 that found women-owned small businesses have limited opportunities to win some of the federal government’s most sought-after contracts, despite a proven ability to deliver innovative goods and services across the globe.
Despite these challenges, women have been tremendously successful in business. Between 2007 and 2016 American Express reported that the number of women-owned businesses grew at a rate of 5 times the national average. Women of color are starting businesses at 4 times the national rate. Today, women-owned businesses generate more than $1.6 trillion in revenues and employ nearly 9 million people.
Imagine if we increased funding for women entrepreneurs to $100 million. Slightly more than a fivefold increase would allow WBCs to serve 500,000 women entrepreneurs. Some states could open new centers in under-served regions such as California’s Central Valley; existing centers in urban areas could expand to reach many more women in fast growing ex-urban areas. Additional funding would create broader continuum of services, for example, by preparing women for loan or investment capital, or by assisting young entrepreneurs.
Let’s say 80 percent or 400,000 grow their own business. The return on investment would include 1.2 million jobs and $20 billion in revenues generated at a conservative $50,000 per business. Studies from Civic Economics find that the revenues from locally-owned businesses will circulate at least three times in their local economies versus chain stores with virtually no local circulation. Thus, this investment in women entrepreneurs would create a total economic value of $60 billion for our nation’s local economies. This is a huge ROI – 600 dollars for each dollar spent!
Take Judi Henderson, who started Mannequin Madness in Oakland, CA, initially as a way to recycle used department store mannequins, and turned it into a lucrative business with 4 employees and nearly a million dollars in sales. And Jess McGuinty, who started Jessicurl, a curly hair care product line out of her kitchen, now employs eight and sells around the country. There are millions of stories like these women, running very small businesses and demonstrating potential for strong economic impacts.
Call to Action
The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership with its national network of 100 WBCs is the perfect channel to reach and harness the entrepreneurial energy of our nation’s women business owners. We urge President Trump, Congress and corporate America to empower women business owners to make our economy prosper.
We propose the following agenda
Increase funding of the SBA’s Office of Women Business Ownership to $50 million
Match these funds with $50 million from major banks, fintech lenders and private
Target capital to women owned businesses through banks, the SBA, USDA and
Open the door to women on large, multi-year government contracts.
The Invest in Women Entrepreneurs Initiative seeks to create wealth for women. Our mission is to significantly increase resources that support the growth of women-owned businesses by leveraging private, corporate, and government grants and capital.
Women entrepreneurs who get support through coaching, capital, and connections build strong, sustainable businesses that create financial security and fuel our economy.
Investing in women is investing in the infrastructure of local communities. We have an opportunity to unlock the economic potential of our nation’s future. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.
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- Do some further reading about the state of entrepreneurship for women, including research that lays out pathways to future success.