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Saturday, May 20, 2023

Women-Owned Businesses: Resources for Starting, Running, and Growing

Women-Owned Businesses: Resources for Starting, Running, and Growing

Women-Owned Businesses: Resources for Starting, Running, and Growing

In recent years, a concerted effort has been made to support women-owned businesses, acknowledging women's historic challenges in the economic realm. Women have traditionally encountered obstacles in accessing credit and finding venture investments.

Additionally, they have been underrepresented in boardrooms. Although progress is being made, significant barriers remain, prompting the creation of various funding opportunities, certifications, and resources to empower women entrepreneurs in launching, managing, and expanding their businesses. Here are some valuable resources available:

1. Starting a Business Support: Get assistance and guidance in launching your business idea.

2. Business Improvement Support: Access resources to enhance and optimize your business operations.

3. Business Loans: Explore loan options tailored explicitly for women-owned businesses.

4. Grants and Funding: Tap into grants and alternative funding sources to finance your business ventures.

5. Government Contracts: Discover opportunities for securing government contracts and partnerships.

6. Certifications: Obtain certifications, such as Women-Owned

Small Business (WOSB) or Minority-Owned Business (MBE), which can provide additional benefits in procurement processes.

These resources are designed to bolster the representation of women in prominent business roles and bridge the gender gap in entrepreneurship.

Women-Owned Businesses: Statistical Overview

Women-owned businesses constitute a minority, accounting for approximately 19.9% (1.1 million) of all companies in the United States, as reported by the United States Census Bureau. Among these businesses, the majority (52%) employ 1 to 4 individuals, while 13.4% have no employees. Only 8% have 20 or more employees.

The number of large women-owned businesses, with revenues exceeding $1 million, remains low, with only one in five firms falling into this category. Nevertheless, there has been progress, as the overall percentage of women-owned businesses has risen from around 4.6% in 1972 to 42% in 2019.

Women of color, including Black, Asian, Latina, Native American, and Pacific Islander women, account for approximately 50% of all women-owned businesses. However, their businesses generate only a quarter of the total revenue.

The average business revenue for all women-owned businesses is $142,900. Comparatively, women of color have an average payment of $65,800, while non-minority women-owned businesses have an average income of $218,800. These figures are notably lower than the revenues generated by companies overall. It's essential to consider the concentration of 50% of women-owned companies in three main categories:

1. Other Services (e.g., nail salons, hair salons, and pet care): 22%

2. Health Care and Social Assistance (e.g., child daycare and home healthcare services): 15%

3. Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (e.g., lawyers, bookkeepers, architects, public relations, and consultants): 13%

These sectors tend to have lower average earnings, and many of these businesses operate part-time, limiting their earning potential. Additionally, it's crucial to acknowledge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these statistics.

Financial Resources

Financial resources for women-owned businesses are often available through grants, including government grants and those from other organizations.

Government Grants

Various government authorities provide grants to address specific business needs and stimulate growth.

Federal Grants

Grants.gov serves as a platform where federal government grants are listed. However, these highly competitive grants often target specific sectors, skill sets, nonprofits, or state-operated entities. To increase your chances of success, carefully review each appointment to ensure your business meets the eligibility criteria, as applications outside the specified parameters are typically disqualified.

Financial Resources

Financial resources are in the form of grants. These can be government grants, or they can be grants from another entity.

Government Grants

Various authorities offer a range of grants to support women-owned businesses, providing a valuable boost if your business aligns with identified needs. These grants can help jumpstart your venture and drive growth. Here are some key opportunities:

Federal Grants

Federal government grants, listed on Grants.gov, are highly sought after. Most franchises have limited eligibility, targeting nonprofits, businesses in specific sectors, those with particular skill sets, or state-operated entities. Thoroughly review each grant to ensure your business qualifies, as applications outside the defined parameters are typically rejected.

Challenge.gov is another platform where the government identifies specific challenges that require innovative solutions. If your business idea aligns with these challenges, you may qualify for funding, allowing you to expand and develop technologies with future commercial potential. Competition for funding can be intense so success may vary.

The Small Business Administration's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program offers federally funded opportunities for small businesses to participate in research and development projects. Women-owned small businesses may be prioritized based on the program's mission goals.

The Economic Development Administration provides various funding opportunities for small businesses. Priority is often given to those intending to create high-quality jobs in economically distressed areas or regions affected by natural disasters.

State Grants

State governments also provide grants to support business development. While few grants specifically target women, numerous opportunities are available to help women-owned businesses thrive.

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) offer substantial support to businesses and can direct you to suitable state grants. As they are linked to the state's economic development agency, they possess comprehensive knowledge of the grant application process specific to each state. They may also guide you toward municipal grants, typically smaller in scale but facing less competition.

By exploring these federal and state grant opportunities, women-owned businesses can access valuable resources to fuel their growth and success.

Grants from Corporations and Nonprofits for Women-Owned Businesses

In addition to government grants, several corporations and nonprofits offer donations to support small businesses owned by women, assisting in launching, developing ideas, and expanding operations. Here are some significant grant opportunities:

American Express Grants: While traditionally focused on nonprofits, American Express launched an effective grant program in 2020 specifically for Black communities. At least 25% of these grants were allocated to women-owned businesses, offering up to $5,000 per business. Numerous other companies regularly offer appointments as well.

WomensNet Amber Grants: WomensNet provides grants to women with diverse business passions, ranging from scientific inventors to bakers. They offer an annual budget of $25,000 and monthly contributions of $10,000, $2,000, and $1,000. Additionally, a monthly business-specific donation of $5,000 is available. The program also includes a marketing grant, providing professional agency assistance and guidance from the advisory board.

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: While not exclusively for women, the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest encourages women entrepreneurs to participate. It awards various grants, including a $50,000 gift with $7,500 in FedEx Office print services for the winner. Second place receives $30,000 funding, and there are ten $15,000 grants for third place. The contest follows strict entry, submission, voting, and judging periods and is open to independent owners and operators of eligible for-profit small businesses in the United States. Other terms and conditions apply.

Cartier Women's Initiative Regional Awards: The Cartier Women's Initiative offers up to $100,000 to seven women-owned and women-run businesses through regional awards. Additionally, there is a $30,000 grant for the 14 finalists. The initiative provides fellowship programs and social capital support to help women establish businesses. Eligible businesses should be for-profit, early-stage, revenue-generating, and have received less than $2 million in dilutive funding. They should also align with at least one United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. Detailed eligibility criteria are available on the award website. The initiative also recognizes female-led technological innovation through the Science and Technology Pioneer Award.

Tory Burch Foundation Grant: This grant offers up to $5,000 to fund business education for eligible women entrepreneurs. It includes virtual education, workshops, and a comprehensive program to support business growth. Grant recipients also gain access to an online community.

These are just a few examples of the many grant programs available. Depending on your business focus, it's worth exploring and applying to the relevant grant opportunities. Additionally, numerous grants cater to nonprofit organizations.

Certifications for Women-Owned Businesses

Certifications can be valuable for women-owned businesses, providing official recognition and access to federal programs and other opportunities. Here are some primary certificates available:

National Women's Business Council (NWBC)

The NWBC offers two certifications: Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB).

Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB):

1. Women must have majority ownership and control of the business without any conditions attached.

2. Women must manage day-to-day operations and make long-term business decisions.

3. Additional conditions include holding the highest officer position, full-time involvement in the business, and no engagement in outside employment.

Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB):

1. The criteria are the same as WOSB, with additional requirements:

2. Personal net worth must be below $750,000 (excluding certain assets).

3. The average adjusted gross income over the past three years must be $350,000 or less (excluding certain assets).

4. Total assets must be $6 million or less (with exclusions) based on fair market value appraisal.

Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

WBENC certification shares similarities with NBC's WOSB certification and includes the following requirements:

1. At least 51% ownership and control by one or more women.

2. Women must manage the business and hold the highest officer position.

3. Women's control must be unrestricted.

4. Women must have contributed to capital or provided industry expertise.

5. Women must be U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens.

National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC)

NWBOC offers various certifications, including Women Business Enterprise (WBE), minority, and veteran certifications. The requirements for WBE certification are similar to the previous certificates:

1. Minimum 51% ownership by women.

2. Women must be the final decision-makers and hold the highest office.

3. Female control of the board of directors is required.

These certifications provide women-owned businesses with official recognition and enhanced opportunities in the business landscape.

Organizations for Women Entrepreneurs

Several organizations are dedicated to supporting and empowering women entrepreneurs by providing advice, access to loans, and valuable information. Here are some notable organizations:

Small Business Administration's Office of Women's Business Ownership (OWBO):

The OWBO, part of the Small Business Administration (SBA), focuses on assisting women entrepreneurs, particularly those economically or socially disadvantaged. Through more than 100 Women's Business Centers, they offer advocacy, outreach, education, and support. Collaborating with the Association of Women's Business Centers, the OWBO provides resources tailored to women's business needs.

U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce:

The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce promotes networking opportunities, facilitates access to government contracts, and advocates for women in business. It actively addresses challenges faced by women-owned businesses and participates in policy discussions. Members can attend meetings, gain certifications, and contribute to policy-setting initiatives.

National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO):

With a presence across multiple states, NAWBO represents millions of women business owners. It aims to increase women's participation in business and influence policy decisions affecting women-owned firms. NAWBO organizes regular awards and hosts events throughout the year, providing networking and learning opportunities.

National Women's Business Council (NWBC):

NWBC offers certifications, supports women in growing STEM businesses, and encourages women entrepreneurs in rural areas. They provide resources, roundtable events, webinars, and public meetings to empower women in business.

Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC):

WBENC focuses on certification, opportunities, resources, and engagement through its CORE platform. They offer certification programs to access preferential programs, organize various programs and networking events, provide a wide range of resources, and facilitate engagement at all levels for women entrepreneurs.

State and Local Organizations:

In addition to national organizations, local organizations are often dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs. Check state and municipal websites, as well as local Women's Business Centers, for further information.

These organizations play a vital role in assisting women entrepreneurs throughout their business journey, offering guidance, resources, and networking opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions about Women-Owned Businesses

1. How can I register as a women-owned business?

To register as a women-owned business, you can pursue certifications offered by organizations such as the National Women's Business Council, the National Women Business Owners Corporation, and the Women's Business Enterprise National Council.

2. Where can I find resources for women-owned businesses in my state?

You can find valuable resources tailored to women-owned businesses in your state through local Women's Business Centers operated by the Small Business Administration.

3. How can I connect and network with other female business owners?

Female business owners have abundant networking opportunities, especially at the state and local levels. Organizations like the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) organize regular networking events. Platforms like SheWorx specialize in helping women connect for venture capital funding.

4. What qualifies as a women-owned business?

Generally, a women-owned business is defined as holding at least a 51% ownership stake. However, specific definitions may vary slightly depending on the certifying organization or program.

5. Are there resources specifically for minority women who own businesses?

Yes, there are resources available specifically for minority women entrepreneurs. Initiatives like Goldman Sachs's One Million Black Women, the Visa IFundWomen program, and the Lemon-AID Foundation are dedicated to supporting minority women-owned businesses and providing them with valuable resources and opportunities.

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