Women-owned businesses continue to become more established in the American economy, however women continue to face more obstacles than men when launching and growing their businesses. These challenges — including securing small business loans — thwart the success of female-owned companies and hinder their ability to innovate, create jobs, and grow. Fortunately, helping women-owned businesses — especially those owned by minorities — has been a priority of the Biden administration.
Female-owned businesses, which must be at least 51% owned and controlled by women, have become increasingly prominent over the past decade. From 2014 to 2019, the number of women-owned businesses soared to 21%, leading to over 12 million businesses in operation, according to the 2019 American Express State of Women in Business Report. In those five years, overall businesses across the country increased by just 9%. Looking back even further the number of women entrepreneurs has risen 114% during the past two decades.
As of 2019, about 50% of women-owned businesses were operated by women of color. In the five-year span from 2014-2019, the average revenue for those women of color decreased from $67,800 to $65,800. Meanwhile, the average revenue rose from $198,500 to $218,800 for non-minority women.
The Biden administration and the SBA have made it a priority to help Black-owned businesses owned by women. Last week, SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced the availability of $1.5 million for 10 new grant opportunities for established Minority Serving Institutions aspiring to host a Women’s Business Center (WBC) to provide local outcome-oriented business services for women entrepreneurs.
During Black History Month, the SBA has reaffirmed its commitment to creating funding opportunities that increase equity for small business owners. This effort has been a priority under Administrator Guzman. Through the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership’s (OWBO), the WBCs help entrepreneurs pivot, grow and navigate new opportunities.
Some of these opportunities have been created through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, such as competing in the burgeoning industries solving climate change and to grow clean-energy supply chains that will help expand global exporting.
“Our efforts to help establish more Women’s Business Centers at Minority Serving Institutions across America will not only deliver on the Biden-Harris administration’s priority to invest in equity, but also will help more women entrepreneurs, who are among the most energetic, innovative and fastest-growing segments of our small business economy,” said Administrator Guzman.
Guzman added that Women’s Business Centers provide vital support, connecting women entrepreneurs with many of the SBA’s most valuable resources including access to capital, professional networks, skills training for business growth and resilience, and much more.
“My hope is that leaders of every qualifying institution will seize this opportunity to establish a Women’s Business Center and start building bridges to opportunity for our nation’s women business owners,” she said.
The purpose of the new funding will be for up to 10 private, non-profit organizations to provide entrepreneurial development services to women, with an emphasis on socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs in locations that are outside of the geographical areas of existing WBCs.
Eligible applicants include the following institutions of higher education or their affiliates:
· Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
· Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs)
· Tribal Colleges and University (TCUs)
· Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions (NHSIs)
· Alaska Native Serving Institutions (ANSIs)
“Our office looks forward to supporting initiatives to ensure that multicultural women and the academic institutions that support them across the nation, have access to resources and support to advance entrepreneurial opportunities and preparation,” said Natalie Madeira Cofield, Assistant Administrator of the SBA. “This notable expansion builds on our historic expansion in 2021, where our center footprint grew to include 24 new centers, 60-percent of which were located in rural communities across the nation, including Puerto Rico.”
Since March 2021 alone, 24 new centers have opened. Among the newest WBCs are three affiliated with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and two in Puerto Rico, as well several focused on reaching entrepreneurs from rural communities. Currently, OWBO funds and supports the largest WBC network in the history of the SBA, with 140 centers in 49 states and Puerto Rico.
The SBA’s WBC network provides one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance, and mentoring to women entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics, including business startup, financial management, marketing, and procurement. To find other WBC locations and additional SBA resources, visit www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance.
How to Apply
Eligible applicants must be private, non-profit organizations with 501(c) tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service and must or be affiliated with a Minority Serving Institution. The application acceptance period for this grant opportunity runs from now through Monday, March 14, 2022. Proposals responding to this program must be submitted through www.grants.gov by Monday, March 14, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. No other methods of submission will be permitted. Proposals submitted after the stipulated deadline will be rejected without being evaluated.
When women businesses owners pitched ideas for early-stage capital, they received over $1 million less than men ($935,000, compared to $2.1 million), according to research from BCG. While men received more funding, the report found that businesses founded by women were much more prosperous in the long-term, gaining 10% more in revenue over a five-year period.
In terms of how effectively companies turn a dollar of investment into a dollar of revenue, it was found that startups by women produced 78 cents, while male-owned businesses created 31 cents. The data underscores the importance of providing access to capital for women-owned companies overall.