Celebrating National Women’s History Month
Forty years ago, women owned just 5% of all small businesses in America. Today, they own over 30%, creating 200,000 women-owned small businesses in the past year. Additionally, between 2002 and 2012, the number of women-owned firms with $10 million or more in revenues grew nearly 50% more than all firms of that size, and in 2012 alone, angel investors poured 40% more dollars into high growth women-owned companies than in the previous year.
With so many positive trends, now, more than ever, women are poised to thrive as entrepreneurs.
But gender gaps persist in certain areas. Men still start more companies and receive more capital to scale their operations, leaving many women-owned small business owners facing challenges to turn their great ideas into successful companies.
Two of the major keys to bridging these remaining gaps are providing better access and opportunity to startup and growth funding. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has taken a number of steps to fully utilize the federal government’s resources in addressing these two critical areas, including all of the following:
- Expanded our lending, making nearly $16.4 billion available through more than 45,900 SBA loans to women-owned businesses;
- Set fees for loans under $150,000 to zero, providing greater access to small startup companies;
- Increased the number of applicants and investment dollars in SBA’s Small Business Investment Company program;
- Opened the doors to 23 new Women’s Business Centers. The network of Women’s Business Centers guide and counsel even more than the 120,000 aspiring small business owners they currently see each year; and
- Created the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program so women-owned small businesses can tap into the $100 billion in contracts that go to small firms every year.
Just last month, President Obama announced his federal budget proposal for FY 2015. The proposal provides a roadmap for accelerating economic growth, expanding entrepreneurial opportunity for all Americans, and ensuring fiscal responsibility. His budget invests in infrastructure, research and innovation, and advanced manufacturing, while reducing deficits through health, tax, and immigration reform. All of these priorities are good for women business owners.
As the President said in his State of the Union Address, “When women succeed, America succeeds.” Continuing to increase access and opportunities for our nation’s women-owned small businesses ensures women can reach their full potential so that when we mark Women’s History Month in another forty years, we will be able to see the gender gap as a vestige of history.
Marianne O’Brien Markowitz is the Acting Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration