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The Outsourced "C" - Women Entrepreneurs

According to U.S. Census data, women now own 36% of the nation's businesses and have total gross income of $1.4 trillion. Woman-owned businesses increased from 28% in 2007, and their total sales and employment numbers have increased. Despite these numbers, however, women still lag behind men in measures like the size of businesses they own and the percentage of sales woman-owned businesses command. Women Entrepreneurs Face Challenges Women entrepreneurs only employ about 8% of the total work force despite owning over a third of all businesses, which suggests that woman-owned businesses are smaller compared to businesses overall. A full 40% of businesses without employees are woman-owned. Woman now own businesses in every field, including typically male-dominated sectors like technology, pharmaceuticals and finance. In the past decade, Weili Dai founded a semiconductor company, Arianna Huffington built an internet news giant, and African-American Janice Bryant Howroyd spearheaded a billion-dollar recruiting company. Despite these gains, female business owners still struggle with finding education, support and funding that will enable them to have successful businesses and achieve their goals. Unlike men, who are expected to be career-driven, women often feel pulled in several directions by their families and societal expectations. African American Women are Making Strides According to the National Women's Business Council, 911,728 African American women owned businesses in the U.S., a 66% increase since 2002 and an almost 200% rise since 1997. The number of women-owned businesses that African Americans own is very close to representative of the population, at 11.7%. Although African American women are catching up and making gains in entrepreneurship, 96% are non-employer firms, an even higher number than for women overall. Health care and social assistance is the top industry for female African American-owned businesses.

Woman Entrepreneurs Are Finding Business to Be Profitable Although many woman-owned businesses are small, they are finding ways to make a profit with unique products and services that meet real needs in their communities and across the world. Sara Blakely's Spanx started out with $5,000 of seed money and has grown to $250 million, spawning a foundation to help women across the world. Trades of Hope, jointly owned by several women, is a newer venture that helps women in third world countries become entrepreneurs by selling their products at home parties. Women Helping Women Helping others through business is a trend of many female-owned companies. This tendency may be one factor that helps to fuel increases in female entrepreneurship as successful women help others find their way. A study of female MBA-level executives showed that 73% of those who had received mentoring later mentored other women. Interestingly, women who mentored others earned more than those who didn't, whether the women were entrepreneurs or employees. Women know, maybe more than their male counterparts, that helping others helps themselves . Register for the Ron Brown Business & Economic Summit and Women's Symposium to get support and guidance for your business.

Tara Lynn Gray

Chamber Foundation Board of Directors

President & CEO YADARI Enterprises

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