Support for Woman Entrepreneurs

1/25/2016 | Author: Johanne Castagan

Women entrepreneurs – specifically African American women – represent the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship. Increasingly and worldwide, cities, regions and countries are looking to entrepreneurs to boost a lagging economy. According to Forbes, 36% of all US businesses are owned by women – an increase of 30% over 2007. “WBEs [women business enterprises] are agile, innovative problem-solvers, meeting corporations’ needs quickly, adapting to marketplace changes and providing deep value and cost-effectiveness,” according to Pamela Prince Eason, president/CEP of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

The current economic conditions are supportive of women entrepreneurs. Low interest rates and a nearly dissolved gender bias make bank loans more accessible. However, there are still a number of challenges women face in trying to start a business. Primary among them is that women receive “less than 5% of venture capital (VC) dollars” according to Professor Fiona Murray of MIT Sloan. He and others are researching the reasons behind that disparity.

The Kauffman Foundation is heavily involved in promoting entrepreneurship and published Guidelines for Local and State Governments to Promote Entrepreneurship. In an article for Kauffman by Jonathan Ortmans, three cities which are leaders in promoting entrepreneurship are highlighted together with their primary strategies. San Francisco is formulating new regulations for new business models such as those that represent the “sharing economy.” New York City advocates for new businesses with its “Made in NY” brand. Boston is using the civic innovation approach to build collaboratives among community resources. Nationally, new rules for selling equity were adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to address crowdfunding and early stage capital.

There has been a good deal of work done in Africa to support women entrepreneurs as a means for addressing extreme poverty and the lack of opportunities. Women still face gender discrimination, lack of access, balancing business and family and lack of self-promotional skills according to Mac-Jordan D. Degadjor, and award winning Ghanaian Blogger.

Those same issues challenge women in our own community as they attempt to start a new business. To address those challenges in the Tampa Bay region, Liz Gutieriez, founded Enterprising Latinos, a nonprofit to help women build their own businesses and supporting networks. With their help, three women have launched El Aventon (a Spanish term meaning risk-taker) to address the lack of transportation in Wimauma. They are starting with three golf carts to make deliveries and transport customers and will expand to vans as their business grows.

Women as entrepreneurs are resourceful and resilient. By supporting them, we can address chronic community issues while lifting families out of poverty and boosting our economy. A win all around.

Marlene Spalten