Since 1997, the number of women-owned enterprises has increased by 68 percent—according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest survey of business owners. Women now own an estimated 36 percent of all non-farm and non-publicly-held businesses in the U.S., and contribute 1.6 trillion in revenue to the economy.  

There’s more to do

Yet it is not enough for us to sit back and expect women to continue to start businesses—they must have access to the tools and resources they need to build the foundations and protections necessary to sustain enterprise. The same U.S. Census survey data that showcases women’s increase in enterprise also confirms that women are far more likely to be sole proprietors instead of employers. That must change.

Collaborations between organizations, like the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), has been paramount in addressing the staggering lack of access to capital for women-owned and women-led businesses.

WBENC’s President and CEO, Pamela Prince-Eason, addresses attendees during a workshop at WBENC’s National Conference & Business Fair.
 

Members of the WBENC network engage in lively discussions during the WBENC National Conference & Business Fair.

The next generation

Our responsibility as role models must start early. By centering on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM), mentorship programs underscore the importance of bringing diverse women from various academic interests together at the developmental stages of their career to build a support network for future women business owners and leaders.

Such examples serve up necessary role models who elevate these smaller communities to intentionally support women-owned businesses. These are women who wake up every day wanting to contribute something. These women are daughters, sisters, mothers, spouses, consumers and entrepreneurs. This is their time.