Every October the National Women’s Business Council and community leaders come together to celebrate women business owners and to highlight the advancements made by women entrepreneurs. In the last several decades, women have made undeniable progress in starting and growing their own businesses.
Women are starting 1,288 new businesses a day, double the rate from only three years ago, according to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express OPEN. The growth in the number, up 68%; employment, up 11%; and revenues, up 72%, of women-owned firms over the past 17 years exceeds the growth rates of all but the largest publicly traded companies – topping growth rates among all other privately held businesses over this period.
As of 2014, it is estimated that there are nearly 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating more than $1.4 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 7.9 million people, as stated in the annual study. The industries with the highest concentration of women-owned firms are healthcare and social assistance, educational services, and waste management services.
Last week, members of the NWBC held a public meeting in Washington, D.C., to discuss the state of women and business. They explored key findings in their 2013-2014 research and revealed that, despite the significant advancements women have made, there are still barriers to the resources needed to start and grow a business.
The NWBC was founded in 1988 with the passing of H.R. 5050, the Women’s Business Ownership Act, in an effort to eliminate discriminatory lending practices. Today, the NWBC advises the White House, Congress, and the Small Business Association on issues relevant to women business owners; and critically focuses on removing the obstacles faced by both women business owners and women who are trying to start their own businesses.
“This October we celebrate the women that have persevered and become successful business owners and we will continue to push for increased access to capital and to markets so women entrepreneurs can keep growing and scaling their businesses,” says Carla A. Harris, who was appointed by President Obama to chair the NWBC.
Harris is among the distinguished group of women slated to speak at Black Enterprise’s Women of Power Summit, March 2-5, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Other notable speakers include the inspiration for ABC’s Scandal, Judy Smith, and the first African American female combat pilot, Vernice “Flygirl” Armour.