The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) was founded 42 years ago to serve as the first advocacy organization for all women business owners. One of the strengths of NAWBO is the diversity of our membership. We are proud to represent women business owners of all sizes, in all stages of business development and all sectors of the economy.
I understand the unique needs of business owners. I built my company around my belief that every business has a unique set of needs for its financial and operational systems, and therefore a one-size-fits-all approach rarely — if ever — applies. However, when it comes to NAWBO members and women business owners from across the country, one of the common threads that unites this diverse ecosystem is access to capital.
All about access
As the 2012 annual report from the National Women’s Business Council shows, we need to get more money into the hands of women entrepreneurs in order to help them start and grow their businesses. Among the key findings was that on average, men start their businesses with nearly twice as much capital as women ($135,000 vs. $75,000). This disparity is slightly larger among firms with high-growth potential ($320,000 vs. $150,000), and much larger in the top 25 firms ($1.3 million vs. $210,000).
Despite the lack of funding, women business owners contribute greatly to our economy. According to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Business report commissioned by American Express Open, there are more than 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues. These statistics come during a time when women-led companies comprise a little less than 5 percent of all venture capital deals, received a little more than 2 percent of all VC dollars and received approximately 4 percent of all commercial loan dollars. Imagine what the economic impact would be if women business owners had greater access to capital.
Knowledge is power
At NAWBO, we will continue to empower our members with information on funding options, and provide connections to those making lending decisions and measuring the effectiveness of financing programs. When women business owners do well, our economy does well. It is important we all do our part to ensure women business owners have education about and access to the capital they need.