As we enter Women’s History Month, it is crucial that we express reverence, celebrate, and acknowledge the profound influence women entrepreneurs have on the business landscape. Women in leadership positions play a pivotal role not only in their local communities but also in our economy and the global arena. They form an indispensable component of the world’s economic machinery and inspire the next generation of women to achieve their entrepreneurial aspirations.
In 1988, women took significant strides toward achieving equality and leaving their mark on the business world with the passage of The Women’s Business Ownership Act. This landmark legislation, supported by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), was enacted to address the unique needs of women by dismantling discriminatory lending practices that hindered women’s access to business ownership compared to their male counterparts.
In the current year, we commemorate the 35th anniversary of The Women’s Business Ownership Act alongside Women’s History Month, emphasizing the significance of honoring and appreciating our historical journey while acknowledging its profound influence on the present. Despite the progress made, there remains a collective responsibility to continue forging a path that ensures a prosperous generation of women leaders and entrepreneurs in the future.
Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Past 35 Years
Over three decades ago, a transformative change occurred in the process of initiating a business, particularly for women. The Women’s Business Ownership Act was enacted, providing women entrepreneurs across the nation with the empowerment to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions. Prior to the passing of this legislation, women business owners were subjected to the requirement of having a male co-signer on their business loans. The act played a crucial role in reducing gender-based discrimination and granting women access to capital for establishing new ventures or supporting their existing businesses.
Since this landmark event, the number of women-owned businesses has experienced a substantial surge. Just a few years after the act’s implementation, the United States Census reported that by 1992, the country had witnessed 6.4 million women-owned businesses, accounting for one-third of all domestic firms and 40% of retail and service establishments. Fast forward to 2019, and the number of women-owned businesses has doubled, nearing 13 million (representing 42% of all U.S. businesses). Furthermore, a study conducted in 2022 revealed that over the past three years, the growth rate of women entrepreneurs has been remarkable, with a year-over-year increase of 48%, outpacing their male counterparts by 22%.
Change the Future for Women Business Owners
Despite significant advancements made over the past 35 years, women still encounter greater obstacles compared to their male counterparts. One pressing challenge they face is the limited access to capital, a critical issue not only for women but also for minority business owners. Bank of America’s 2022 Women and Minority Business Owner Spotlight revealed that almost one-third of women business owners believe that equal access to capital for women is unlikely, and even for those who remain hopeful, they estimate it will take approximately nine years to achieve such equality. Clearly, there is still much progress to be made on this front.
To address the disparity in access to capital, it is crucial to provide women with the necessary support and resources to navigate the complex capital landscape and identify potential funding sources, including equity, debt, and grant capital. Financial institutions have a responsibility to offer accessible capital solutions. Fortunately, several resources are currently available, although many women business owners may be unaware of them.
For instance, in 2021, Bank of America launched the Access to Capital Directory for Women Entrepreneurs, aimed at connecting women with organizations that provide funding specifically for women-owned businesses. Additionally, the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell University offers women the opportunity to earn a business certificate from the prestigious Ivy League institution. Furthermore, the bank recently introduced a public marketplace to support and showcase women-owned businesses participating in programs that promote women’s entrepreneurship.
By expanding awareness and improving access to these resources, we can take significant strides towards bridging the gap in capital accessibility for women entrepreneurs. Collaboration between financial institutions, organizations, and the business community at large is essential to creating a more equitable landscape where women can thrive and succeed in their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Success and Equality in Business
They have come to recognize the significant impact mentorship can have on one’s professional development. As both a mentor and a mentee, They will have experienced firsthand the importance and value of this symbiotic relationship. Those who want to learn that by paying it forward and actively supporting and uplifting other women, can collectively achieve so much more.
There are various ways to contribute to this cause, such as offering structured programs and resources, acting as a trusted confidant to peers, and encouraging women to explore new educational avenues. By embracing these practices, can foster an environment where mentorship flourishes, empowering women to reach their fullest potential and creating a ripple effect of growth and success.
Education will remain a crucial factor as women strive for complete equality in the business world. Whether it involves acquiring knowledge about effective business strategies or mastering the process of applying for grants, women must utilize every available resource to expand their understanding and broaden their horizons as they embark on their entrepreneurial journeys.
By collaborating with fellow women and business partners, they can enhance operational efficiency, fortify their financial acumen, and unleash their creative potential, propelling their businesses to unprecedented levels of success.
Despite encountering daily challenges, many women business owners exhibit remarkable resilience and unwavering dedication, as evidenced by the accomplishments observed over the past 35 years. Those have personally witnessed these qualities in their own lifes, both personally and professionally.
While they have much to celebrate, and filled with anticipation and enthusiasm for the achievements that lie ahead in the next 35 years. The future holds immense promise, and eager to witness the transformative accomplishments that women will attain in their pursuit of equal opportunities and success in the business realm.