By: Greta Johansson, U.S. Small Business Administration, New Hampshire District Director
Today, women-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of new businesses in our economy.
In fact, an analysis by American Express suggests that the number of women-owned businesses has risen by 200,000 over the past year alone, which is equivalent to just under 550 new women-owned firms created each day.
Regardless of how you slice the data, we know that this trend is growing and that women are over-indexing in entrepreneurship.
As director of the New Hampshire U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) office, I travel throughout the state meeting with small business owners and entrepreneurs. I am always amazed at the entrepreneurial spirit right here in New Hampshire, particularly among the many woman-owned small businesses. Many recognize that small business ownership is a significant opportunity providing the flexibility of being your own boss as well as controlling the day-to-day operations and decision making to create your own destiny.
One example of a woman-owned business that we recently visited is Café Indigo, a vegan bakery and café in Concord, New Hampshire. The concept of the café grew out of Patti Dann’s kitchen with the creation of a scrumptious vegan carrot cake for her daughter’s wedding. This product opened many doors for Patti, including local distribution of her products, the opening of her café and now widespread distribution of her product at Whole Foods throughout much of the U.S. The path to success was paved with a few hurdles, but Patti never looked back and now views each hurdle as a learning experience. One entity that assisted with some of the hurdles is the NH Small Business Development Center. She is quick to credit her family for their inspiration and support and hopefully amongst her three daughters and two granddaughters there is another woman business owner ready to emerge. For more of Patti’s story please visit www.cafeindigo.com
However, today, many women-owned entrepreneurs face what we call the “missing middle.”
For example, according to the most recent census data, men owned 57 percent of businesses in New Hampshire and women owned 27 percent of businesses in the state (the remaining were co-owned). However, when you look at the receipts of these businesses, women-owned businesses lagged behind, capturing only 11 percent of receipts, compared to 80 percent of receipts earned by men-owned firms. There is a similar trend occurring in states across the country.
Clearly, women-owned firms are growing greater in numbers, but challenges persist in scaling their operations and garnering market share.
At the SBA, we have the proven tools needed to bridge that missing middle. And to ensure that all entrepreneurs have the tools they need to grow their businesses, reach new markets and realize their full potential.
Access to Capital
According to the Urban Institute, SBA loans are 3 to 5 times more likely to go to women and minority owned businesses than conventional loans. And since President Obama took office, SBA has supported more than $12 billion in lending through more than 35,000 SBA loans to women-owned businesses.
At the SBA, one of our priorities is making sure that more qualified women-owned, veteran-owned and minority-owned small businesses have access to government and commercial supply chain opportunities. That’s why we put into place the Women's Contracting Rule, which means that for the first time federal agencies can set aside contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses in over 300 industries where women are underrepresented. Congress gave SBA this authority in 2000, but it was never implemented. Under President Obama’s leadership, we have made it a priority—and have gotten it done. And recently we expanded the limits to ensure that women-owned businesses are eligible for larger government contracts.
Our Office of Women’s Business Ownership oversees a national network of 106 Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) that support women who want to start or grow their business. We’re connecting with more women every day and, in fiscal 2012 alone, we counseled and trained more than 136,000 women entrepreneurs.
Here in New Hampshire the Center for Women’s Business Advancement at Southern New Hampshire University is the SBA’s official WBC. The Center is available for all women interesting in learning how to start or grow a business. For more information about this valuable resource please visit: www.cwbanh.com.
This month, as part of Women’s History Month, we’re excited to announce another new counseling resource called “Encore Entrepreneurship for Women: An Introduction to Starting Your Own Business.” It is designed specifically for female “encore entrepreneurs,” who are over the age of 50 and ready to start a business as the next chapter of their careers.
We are committed to helping women entrepreneurs because we know how much potential they have to contribute to America’s economic growth. To learn more about how SBA can help your business, visit www.sba.gov.