New Data Show Increasing Growth Among Women-Owned Firms, and Yet…

The first wave of information from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners has just been released from the U.S. Census Bureau, and the news is largely positive – for women-owned businesses at least.SBO_infographic1

While the final numbers will not be out until the end of the year, preliminary figures indicate that:

  • there are now 9.9 million women-owned firms,
  • employing nearly 9 million workers, and
  • generating $1.6 trillion in revenues.

These numbers reveal that women-owned firms now comprise 36% of all privately-held firms (a full accounting of U.S. firms, including large publicly-traded firms, won’t be published until December) – up from a 29% share in 2002.

Where’s this growth coming from? By and large, from women of color. Back in 2002, one in seven (14%) of women-owned firms was led by a woman of color; that share has risen to nearly four in 10 (38%) as of 2012. The growth in the number of women-owned firms over that decade – 53% overall – is strongly outpaced among African American (+179%), Latina (+173%), Native Hawaiian (+138%) and Asian American (+122%) women-owned firms, and also surpassed by Native American/Alaska Native (+68%) women-owned firms.

Looking at trends by industry sector finds the strongest growth in the number of women-owned firms to be in administrative support and waste management services (think office administrative services, landscaping and janitorial services, +101%), educational services (including private schools, computer and language instruction, +92%) and other services (including auto repair, pet sitting and beauty salons, +86%). At the other end of the spectrum, there’s been just an 11% increase in women-owned retail trade businesses.

When looking at the growth in women-owned firms compared to all privately-held firms, the news is quite positive overall: women are now starting businesses at a higher rate post-recession compared to the five years leading up to the recession, while start-ups have plummeted overall.

That said, however, while women now represent over one-third of all privately-owned firms, their share of employment and revenues among this population has declined between 2002 and 2012.

This represents the grey lining in an otherwise silver cloud – but the full picture won’t be revealed until more detailed tabulations by employment and revenue size of firm and more detailed geography are available late in the year.

 

(Click on the infographic at the right to view the interactive version on Womenable’s infogr.am page.)

What Do Women Entrepreneurs Need to Grow? A New Initiative Keeps Score

It’s one thing to encourage more women to start their own entrepreneurial ventures, but what are the elements that can ensure their future growth and success? And what countries are doing a good (and not so good) job of providing a “womenabling” environment for growth-oriented women entrepreneurs? These are the questions asked – and answered – in the new Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard, a data-powered diagnostic tool developed by ACG Inc. with support from Dell.

The research team (of which Womenable is a member) considered the elements necessary for supporting growth-oriented, high-impact women entrepreneurs – AND what data are currently available on a regular basis – gathering and combining 21 data variables into an analytical framework comprised of five main elements:

  • Business environment;
  • Gendered access to resources;
  • Women’s leadership and legal rights;
  • A gendered entrepreneurial pipeline; and
  • Potential female entrepreneurial leaders.

DWEN_Global-Scorecard-ResultsThe resulting analysis, conducted among 31 economies that collectively account for 76% of global GDP, finds that the following countries provide the environment most conducive to supporting high-impact women’s entrepreneurship:

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. Australia
  4. Sweden
  5. United Kingdom

At the other end of the list are countries that are not so supportive:

  1. Bangladesh
  2. Pakistan
  3. India
  4. Egypt
  5. Tunisia

One important conclusion of the analysis is that even among highly-ranked countries there is much room for improvement, as the scores – calculated on a 0-100 scale – only reach 71 even in the top-ranked U.S.

And what can all of us do to help the cause? Several recommendations for action offered include:

  • Narrow the gender data gap by measuring progress of women entrepreneur-focused initiatives;
  • Prioritize female-owned businesses in public and private supply chains;
  • Promote and empower women in the workplace;
  • Raise the visibility of female role models in business; and
  • Build entrepreneurship skills for girls by investing in STEM education.

Learn more and download the GWEL Scorecard executive report and methodology at THIS WEB PAGE.