Women-owned companies are growing in numbers. Gone are the days when women have to take the back seat when it comes to running a business.
By definition, women-owned businesses refer to those whose major stocks are owned by a woman or a group of women.
Records show encouraging statistics on women-owned businesses. For example, the US Census’ 2007 Survey of Business Owners revealed the following:
- · About 7.8 million women-owned businesses (non-farm businesses) in the United States, exhibited an increase of 20.1% from 2002 to 2007.
- • By comparison to other businesses, women-owned firms took up about 28.7% of all non-farm businesses all across the United States, generating about $1.3 trillion in total receipts.
- • Non-employer firms comprised about 88.3% of the total women-owned firms, while the remaining 11.7% have paid employees, creating at least 7.6 million jobs in the entire country.
- • More than half (52%) of the service providers in the health care and social sectors are women-owned businesses.
- • Women also dominate the educational sector as they provide 45.9% of the educational services. Likewise, they participate well in the other industries like administration and support and waste management remedial services (37%), retail trade (34.4%), and the arts, entertainment and recreation (30.4%).
So, if you are a woman eager to start your own business, but not sure what support services are available, then this article has been prepared for you.
Support services for women-owned business:
Office of Women’s Business Ownership
The Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) was established in response to an executive order in 1979. Never before has been the participation of women entrepreneurs as vibrant as it is today. The OWBO became the instrument for the establishment of SBA’s Women’s Business Center Program creating Women’s Business Centers in almost every state.
The services of each Women’s Business Center tailor fit to the needs of its individual community. The following programs are available for women:
a. Training and Counseling
Many centers offer training and counseling in different languages and dialects. These cover the underserved markets using unique and innovative programs. These centers also serve a diverse range of geographic areas, demographic populations and economic environments.
b. Loan Programs
A number of SBA loan programs are available to women that provide access to credit and capital resources designed to fit their needs. The SBA supported approximately 10,000 loans worth $2 billion to women entrepreneurs in 2009. In addition, more than half of women-owned businesses benefited from the SBA-licensed intermediaries which offered nearly 1,230 micro-loans worth over $13.8 million.
The SBA has leveraged $375 million in stimulus funds into more than $16 billion in lending to small businesses. This is under the Recovery Act in which almost 20 percent of the funds have gone to women-owned businesses.
c. Initiatives for Federal Market Opportunities
The SBA informs that “The Small Business Act authorizes contracting officers to specifically limit, or set aside, certain requirements for competition solely among women-owned small businesses or economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. These procurement mechanisms are meant to increase federal contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses and to assist federal agencies in achieving their women-owned business goals.”
By taking advantage of the SBA initiatives, women can secure better access to procurement opportunities. In addition, trainings through resource partners; matchmaking events directed at both the federal and private procurement arenas; and the 8(a) Business Development Program. The SBA also partners with federal agencies to help increase contracting opportunities and achieve the government’s 5 percent contracting goal for women-owned small businesses. (Click here for online procurement training information.)
d. Other Local SBA Resources
Local SBA staffs are available to accommodate women’s business-related queries and needs in SBA district offices in every state and a number of territories. More of information about available programs are available at the SBA website.
The National Women’s Business Council
“The National Women’s Business Council is a bi-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. The Council’s mission is to promote bold initiatives, policies, and programs designed to support women’s business enterprises at all stages of development in the public and private sector marketplaces — from start-up to success to significance.”
Working in partnership with other federal agencies, the NWBC’s primary role is the formulation of policy recommendations. Therefore, it does not provide technical training or counseling.
SBDCs were designed to provide one-stop assistance to individual entrepreneurs and small businesses through various information and guidance in central and easily accessible branch locations.
This program is a collaborative effort of the private sector, the educational community and federal, state and local government. This also forms an integral component of the SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development network of training and counseling services.
SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business” is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small businesses nationwide. SCORE matches entrepreneurs with working and retired executives and business owners who donate time and expertise as business counselors. All in all it has 364 chapters and more than 12,000 volunteers nationwide.
The Small Business Training Network
This is an e-government portal that provides free online training materials for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Topics range from writing a business plan and starting a business, to advertising, accounting, or government contracting.
Local Training Resources
Educational institutions, membership organizations, and state and local economic development offices are few examples of sources of training available to entrepreneurs on a local level. These training programs are available throughout the country. The NWBC recommends that you contact your local chamber of commerce or search online for available programs nearest you.
The business landscape is continually reshaping itself to becoming more and more encouraging to women wanting to start their own businesses in the United States. At this point, get as much information as you can as you strive to be one of the successful businesswomen of this new age. Remember, your business success spells success to your community too.
What other business sources for women do you know of? Please share in the comments below.