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Women Business Owners on the March

Celebrate Women’s History Month

If you haven’t heard by now March is Women’s History Month – when the great contributions of women are celebrated. Women entrepreneurs now number 10 million! We love recognizing amazing women and their profound impact as innovators, inventors, industry disruptors, and more. Make sure that you recognize the women entrepreneurs in your life!

“Women continue to enter into the ranks of business ownership at rates exceeding the national average. Indeed, the rate at which women are launching businesses is on the rise.” That’s from a report from the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). But they add that “those businesses remain significantly smaller than average.” I highly recommend checking out NWBC’s website, as it has a ton of great information about women-owned businesses.

California has 1,320,085 women-owned businesses, a 27% increase from 2007. California accounts for about 13% of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and has a population that is 12.2% of the total U.S. population. Overall, the percentage of women-owned privately-held businesses in California increased from 31.3% in 2007 to 37.2% in 2012. However, there’s room for improvement when it comes to revenue generation: 5.1% of revenue, or $201.7 billion of receipts, is generated by women-owned businesses.

The trends make Claudia’s post – Invest in Women Business Ownership for a Robust Economy on the ASBC website or in Huffington Post – even more important. Business assistance and access to capital will help women businesses grow and thrive and they need the resources.

Congress should pass The Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2015 (H.R. 4027: DelBene (D-WA) that was introduced in November 2015. It would re-authorize the Women’s Business Center program at $21.75 million thru FY2020. It would also increase grant maximum awards to $250,000 and make efforts to streamline the program. The Senate version, S.2126, was passed by the Senate Small Business Committee on October 7, 2015. But Congress seems to be busy ignoring President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees and hasn’t moved on the bill. We have requested $21.75 million for WBCs in our FY17 appropriations request.

The government has made some progress on women’s business issues. First, the SBA expanded the industries in the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program. After more than two decades, the program finally met its goal of 5% of federal contracts to women-owned firms. This achievement is due in no small part to the advocacy efforts of the small business community and especially women entrepreneurs. Ann Sullivan, our woman in DC, was quoted in The New York Times about the five year old rules that allow “agencies to set aside specific contracts for bidding only by companies owned by women.”

I think we can attribute the government meeting its goal directly to that being put in place. They weren’t going to meet it simply by wishing and hoping; there needed to be a program specifically designating some contracts.

For a more humorous perspective, you might want to watch Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal episode on women businesses.

On the more positive side, women do better than men at rewards-based crowdfunding.

Geographically, where are women faring well in business? NerdWallet has a great post BestPlaces for Women Entrepreneurs, Small-Business Loans, Big Revenues. See infographic below.

Four of the top 10 metro areas for women entrepreneurs are in California. All four cities have more women-owned businesses per 100 residents and higher annual incomes for women compared with the national average.

Finally – progress doesn’t come if we sit quietly on the sidelines. It’s super important to make our voice heard! CAMEO has joined Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) for their campaign – WE Decide 2016 – to engage women in business in the 2016 election. WE Decide 2016 is a nonpartisan, no cost collaboration with a focus on education and engagement. WE Decide 2016 will publish a Women in Business Priorities report prior to the national conventions to encourage political parties and their candidates to prioritize and discuss issues of significance to women entrepreneurs. Please take a moment to sign up your organization to become a WE Decide 2016 Supporter and pass on the invitation to your women clients.