Did you know that just three decades ago, women were still required to have a male cosigner on a loan?
While women business owners still face some barriers and challenges, tremendous inroads have been made in the struggle for equal rights and access to opportunity. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is proud to have played a role in supporting women entrepreneurs and helping to enable women-owned businesses to grow at twice the rate of all businesses nationwide.
There are 9.9 million women-owned small businesses in the U.S., according to the SBA data. On some of the most important metrics – business starts, revenue growth, job creation, and the number of years in business – women entrepreneurs have either achieved parity or surpassed businesses owned by men. A 2019 report shows that 21% of employer businesses have majority female ownership, employing 9.4 million workers and amassing $1.5 trillion in total annual receipts.
This year has been an extraordinarily challenging year for the small business sector, and women-owned businesses, in particular. The SBA, with the full backing and support of the White House and the Treasury Department, launched the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which has helped stabilize hundreds of thousands of women-owned businesses, helping put them on a path to recovery.
This August, we are marking Women’s Suffrage Centennial and Women’s Equality Day appropriately falls on the day the 19th Amendment became law, which granted women the right to vote a century ago. In honor of this monumental and historic progression toward equality, the SBA is highlighting women business owners who have benefitted from SBA mentorship and financial resources:
- Superstition Meadery, LLC (Prescott, AZ): Jennifer Herbert (CEO) and her husband Jeff Herbert (CSO) started their meadery in 2012 after Jeff took a mead-making course. With SBA financial assistance and counseling, they gradually grew their business to 20 employees and extended their reach into international markets. In 2019, Jennifer and Jeff were named SBA National Small Business Persons of the Year. When COVID-19 struck, Superstition Meadery applied for a PPP loan, which helped them cover payroll, rent, and more.
- Omni Ecosystems (Chicago, IL): Molly Meyer founded Omni Ecosystems, a vertically integrated green infrastructure company, in 2009. Along the way, Molly has received business advice from her local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and recently obtained an SBA 504 loan to purchase a building in an Opportunity Zone. This year, Molly is being recognized as the SBA’s Illinois Small Business Person of the Year. Omni applied for and received a PPP loan, without which, according to Molly, she would not have been able to retain all of her employees. Because of this critical lifeline from the SBA, Omni employees are on the job and collecting full pay.
- Diaz Transcription Services (Harrisburg, PA): Jenine Diaz is the CEO of Diaz Transcription Services, a full-service transcription and electronic court reporting company. Jenine says that new business came to a standstill after Pennsylvania temporarily closed all nonessential businesses in March due to COVID-19. According to Jenine, PPP became a lifeline for her business, which continues to be up and running.
- Castalia Systems (Tampa, FL): Lindsey Britt is president & CEO of a successful small businesses benefitting from the SBA’s 8(a) program for Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business (EDWOSB). It specializes in providing IT, data science, cybersecurity and other critical services to the intelligence community and the Department of Defense. Lindsey said the PPP loan she received made the difference in enabling her to continue business operations while protecting the jobs of 125 employees through the pandemic.
Resources for Women Entrepreneurs
Women business owners can leverage SBA resources to take their business to the next level. One option is the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program, which empowers women-owned businesses to compete for exclusive set-aside federal contracts.
Starting last month, the certification process for WOSBs and Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSBs) will be streamlined to make it easier for qualified small businesses to participate in the program. The WOSB Federal Contracting Program is implementing changes to improve the customer experience. At the same time, the SBA is strengthening oversight and maintaining the integrity of the certification process. Learn more about the certification process.
Women entrepreneurs can also benefit from business education and counseling provided by SBA resource partners, including Women’s Business Centers (WBC). WBCs offer a variety of services tailored to the needs of the communities they serve, including training in finance, management, and marketing. Businesses that receive assistance from WBCs achieve a higher rate of survival than those that don’t receive similar support.
The SBA will continue to provide women entrepreneurs with the advice, education, and financial support they need to keep breaking glass ceilings and succeeding in business – all while boosting their local economies.