March 3, 2023 — With a nod to Women’s History Month, let’s acknowledge some great things about women entrepreneurs – what they’re contributing and who they are.
According to the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are close to 12 million women-owned businesses. So, it’s clear that women entrepreneurs are a vital and growing segment of the economy given that their companies make up about 42 percent of all businesses.
“Female entrepreneurs are integral to the American economy, starting new businesses at high rates and employing millions,” says Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, in an SBA press release.
Ability to Unite
Women leaders have the innate ability to unite employees, clients, and partners, says Western Union executive Karen Penney.
And, she says, that’s particularly important in times like these that call for “long term remote cooperation and personalized customer service.”
“Their inherent talents enable them to be fully set up for the future digital economy,” she writes in a post on the website for the Global Female Leaders summit.
Penney, vice president of Payment Products for Western Union Business Solutions in the U.K., cites research by the Harvard Business Review that indicates women are better leaders during a crisis than men.
“They display particular strengths across competencies including learning agility, taking the initiative, as well as inspiring and motivating others,” she says in her post.
“I’ve seen this first-hand through my female colleagues at Western Union. After all, the future economy requires a robust digital payments infrastructure – and so our employees have been working harder than ever to deliver innovative payments solutions.
When women are involved in entrepreneurship, you activate the economy at many levels, says Ingrid Vanderveldt, founder of EBW, a business education network and platform for female thought-leaders and rising entrepreneurs, and the movement SHEconomy Project.
“Underrepresentation of women in business is a missed opportunity—both socially and economically,” she says in a SCORE blog post. “When we invest in women, their communities, states, and countries prosper, which generates a multiplier effect.”
Vanderveldt cites UN research that shows women put around 90 percent of their income back into their communities and families. “They are among the world’s best economic and social bets,” she adds.
If women and men entrepreneurs participate equally, the global GDP could potentially increase between three to six percent, boosting the worldwide economy by $2.5 to 5 trillion, according to an analysis by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
Further, businesses founded by women produce higher revenue, over two times more per dollar invested than companies established by men, according to research attributed to Eriksen Translations, a New York-based company founded by Vigdis Eriksen.
Women face inequities in the startup ecospace, blocking them from scaling their businesses and securing finance at the same rates as their male counterparts.
Women entrepreneurs are one of the most influential segments of the business community. However, disparities continue for women business owners, including access to necessary resources and opportunities, says SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.
In late 2021, the SBA announced it would “elevate” its Office of Women Business Ownership (OWBO) to the Office of the Administrator, overseeing a network of Women’s Business Centers (WBCs). The agency offers low-cost counseling, training, business development technical assistance to help women entrepreneurs start, grow, and expand their enterprises.
Drive and Ambition
As is the case for anyone who starts a business, ambition drives the most successful women entrepreneurs.
“Successful women in business quickly become adept at pushing through the inevitable set back(s) and have enough self-belief in their influence to affect change,” says Mellissa Larkin, founder of law firm Peripheral Blue, in a blog posted by StartupDaily.
March is Women’s History Month
Historians say one of the first successful female entrepreneurs in the U.S. was Madame C.J. Walker, who started a business in 1905.
After suffering a hair loss, Walker, born as Sarah Breedlove, created Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, a scalp conditioning and healing formula, in 1905. She opened a factory and a beauty school in Pittsburgh three years later.
“By 1910, the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Co. had become wildly successful, with profits that were the modern-day equivalent of several million dollars,” according to a post on history.com.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, National Women’s History Month began on March 8, 1857, when female textile workers protested unfair working conditions and unequal rights for women.
The first Women’s Day celebration in the U.S. was in 1909, also in New York City. More than seven decades later, in 1981, Congress established National Women’s History Week to be commemorated every year on the second week of March. Then In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month.