The Economic Impact Of Women-Owned Businesses

In the US, there are over 13 million women-owned small businesses, accounting for nearly 40% of all businesses in the country. Women-owned businesses pack a powerful economic footprint, generating $1.8 trillion in annual revenue and employing almost $10 million people. Throughout the pandemic, women-owned businesses bore the brunt of the burden, leaving the workforce and closing businesses at record rates. However, since then, women are driving the economic recovery.

“Women owned businesses are making incredible progress, despite the odds being against them in many cases,” Acting President and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), Angela Dinge said. “This is especially true for Black and African American women-owned businesses, who generate $98.3 billion in revenue and employ 528,000 workers, according to The 2023 Wells Fargo Impact of Women Owned Businesses report. The report, developed in collaboration with WIPP, Ventureneer, and CoreWoman, tells us that these entrepreneurs can do a lot with a little. If Black and African American women-owned businesses achieved the average revenue of men, they would add $1.5 trillion in revenue to the economy, but that they need stronger access to capital opportunities, educational opportunities and resources, like federal contracts, to grow their businesses.”

While the Wells Fargo report highlights the achievements of women-owned businesses, it also sheds light on persistent, systemic challenges that continue to be barriers to the growth of women, particularly Black women business owners, including less access to capital and technical assistance. Women also lack access to crucial federal programs, including contracting and procurement programs. According to the most recent data from the Small Business Administration (SBA), women-owned businesses netted only 4.63% of all federal contracting dollars in fiscal year 2022, just shy of the government’s long-term 5% goal. While it’s a slight improvement from the previous year, the 5% goal has been met just twice since it was established over 20 years ago.

Despite barriers to business growth and creation, women business owners are a driving force of the economy, and they’re doing so with smaller teams. “The vast majority of women-owned businesses are ‘micro-businesses’, businesses with fewer than 50 employees,” National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) President and CEO Jen Earle said.

According to NAWBO’s most recent survey with the payroll company ADP, women-owned micro-businesses provide the lion’s share of family income. “These women are driving the economic recovery post-pandemic, and, by providing the right tools and resources, we can support wealth creation that allows them to grow their businesses,” Earle said.

As women business owners continue to be a driving force for economic growth and development, it’s crucial that there continue to be efforts in the public and private sectors towards advancing women’s economic empowerment. Earlier this year, we saw the expansion of the SBA’s Women’s Business Centers and an announcement from the U.S. Department of Commerce that semiconductor manufacturers must provide workers with access to quality, affordable child care in order to access federal funding available through the CHIPS and Science Act. This will help create good jobs and take the pressure off of women serving as primary caregivers for their children.

October marks National Women’s Small Business Month, a time for us to celebrate the important contributions and achievements of women-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs. We must continue to build on these kinds of investments to increase access to tools and resources needed to successfully grow their businesses and to advance the growth of women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.

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