By now, many of you will know the overarching facts and trends, including:
Women now own nearly four in ten (36%) businesses in the U.S. These firms number nearly 10 million, employ over 8 million workers, and generate $1.4 trillion in revenues.
Women-owned firms are growing in number at 2-1/2 times the national average over the 2002-2012 period, and business starts among women have picked up significantly since the recession, even as overall firm formation has stagnated.
The number of firms owned by women of color is nothing short of phenomenal. In 2002, there were just under 1 million firms owned by women of color; that number stands at nearly 3.8 million just one decade later.
But what you might not know are three other trends that are included in this report. For the first time, the analysis includes a look at female veteran-owned firms, trends in the top 50 most populous metro areas, and a look at trends in some detailed industry categories. We found that:
There’s been a quadrupling in the number of female veteran-owned businesses just in the past five years, from under 100,000 to nearly 400,000.
Despite growing industry diversity, nearly one-third of women-owned firms can be found in these four sectors:
Personal care services (mostly beauty and nail salons): 987,375 women-owned firms
Other personal services (including pet care/pet sitting/dog walking): 732,352
Child day care services: 661,630
Services to buildings and dwellings (mostly janitorial, housecleaning and landscaping/lawn services): 655,943
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of women-owned firms in Memphis skyrocketed by 160%, compared to national growth of 52%, making the Bluff City the fastest-growing metro area among the 50 most populous cities in the U.S.
The National Women’s Business Council, a bipartisan women’s enterprise advisory body in the US established by the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, has published their 2013 annual report to the President, US Congress, and the US Small Business Administration.
The colorful 40-page report contains nine policy/program recommendations grouped within four pillars (Guess which one is our favorite!):
Access to Capital
Access to Markets
Job Creation and Growth
Among the recommendations are two, in our view, worth calling out and commenting upon:
“Implement an annual Survey of Business Owners model-based program.” The SBO is the Census Bureau’s quinquennial business census, which provides we womenablers with a mother-lode of invaluable statistics on the number and growth of women-owned firms. However, being quinquennial means that the data are only published every five years, and business moves much faster than that. Of course, Womenable and American Express OPEN have published an annual State of Women-Owned Businesses reports that provide estimates in between SBO reports (see a listing of these reports HERE), but more frequent government-published data would be extraordinarily useful. However, such an expansion of SBO is also very unlikely, given the expense required and the current state of the US budget. And yet, to paraphrase Robert Browning,
“Ah, but a woman’s reach should exceed her grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”
“Increase the number of women-owned or -led firms participating in incubators and accelerators and consider establishing an accelerator and incubator program focused on women-owned or -led firms.” Womenable has long pointed out the need for paying much more attention to issues of growth and development of existing women-owned enterprises. This is another timely recommendation, but the NWBC missed an important opportunity to call out a key partnership in this endeavor: the Nation’s 100+ women’s business centers. Rather than trying to make existing incubators and business accelerators more female-friendly (good luck with that), we should expand the remit of and financial support for WBCs to offer growth-focused programming. Indeed, most of them already do – but they are doing so outside the “marching orders” provided to them by the SBA and Congress, which essentially puts WBCs in velvet handcuffs and says that all government funds can only go toward serving nascent firms and socially and economically disadvantaged populations.
The Council has done a good job of keeping the momentum going over a period – over the past three or more years, really – of staff and leadership turnover. There’s a new Chair in place, but no Executive Director at the moment. Despite that, they’ve published a report that’s well worth reading, and using for womenabling advocacy efforts in the United States and beyond. Keep up the good work, NWBC!
The annual report from the National Women’s Business Council was issued just before the end of the year, and not only contains an abundance of statistics but a succinct set of policy recommendations, in keeping with their mandate to represent the interests of women business owners and their enterprises in federal policy-making circles.
Perhaps the most important text in the report, however, is the description of how the Council has changed its operating procedures to ensure greater continuity of operations, and their recommendations for more active engagement with respect to member nominations and closer monitoring of council member terms. Making these changes would prevent what has happened all too frequently over the past decade – the expiration of a majority of member terms at or near the same time, with a corresponding lag in re-nominations, leading to long periods of inactivity by the Council. This serves no one – not federal policymakers and certainly not the women’s business community. Improving this situation could be the best thing that the NWBC has done in a long time!
To read and download the 2012 NWBC annual report, click on THIS LINK.
In tandem with our list of the top ten womenabling news and events of the year – highlighted in the previous blogpost – we’d now like to share our list of the most noteworthy womenabling research reports of 2010. Here they are, listed in alphabetical order by report title.
You might notice that there are 11 rather than a “top ten,” but we couldn’t decide which one to take out. And we might even have had 12 if we’d only seen a GEM women’s entrepreneurship report this year …
In our year-end e-newsletter, rather than summarizing the latest womenabling news and providing womenablers everywhere with insights to educate, enlighten and empower your efforts, we’re ending the year by compiling what we feel are the most interesting and relevant activities that have taken place in the field of women’s enterprise development in 2010. Repeated here, and in no particular order, are what we see as the ten most noteworthy trends and events of the year:
The establishment of UN Women: It’s been talked about and touted for a number of years, and this year it finally happened: the merging of heretofore disparate UN activities for and about women into one “super agency” for women: the “UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women,” otherwise known as UN Women. This entity will oversee efforts formerly under the purview of the UN’s Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women (OSAGI), and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Heading the new combined entity is former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. What do you need to know about the new agency and how you can engage with it? Read this.
Expansion of women’s empowerment measurements: Where does women’s economic empowerment stand? Some of the most well-known measurements of women’s empowerment include the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap reports, the UN’s GDI and GEM measurements, and the OECD’s Gender, Institutions and Development Data Base. However, all of these include several other measures (including health, education and political participation) as well as economic empowerment and, with respect to the latter, focus on women as workers rather than business owners. There are the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s reports on women and entrepreneurship but, sadly, one has not been published since 2007. This year, though, saw the addition of two new kids on the block, and both of these indicators focus entirely on economic empowerment, and specifically on entrepreneurship. They are the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Index, and a new GenderCLIR methodology for BEE assessment from USAID/Booz Allen Hamilton.
Second interval review for MDGs: In 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, 189 world leaders planted an ambitious flag in the ground, agreeing on eight Millennium Development Goals aimed at eliminating world poverty by 2015. (Our favorite: #3, gender equity.) A “second interval” review of the progress being made on meeting those goals was held this year, including the publication of an MDG report and the convening of an MDG summit. The bottom line? Progress is indeed being made, but in many cases is uneven, affecting some populations and not others. Here’s a report card showing some of the details. While this review shows that much remains to be done to meet the 2015 deadline, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.” (William Shakespeare)
Progress stalled for WED in UK: Last year, in our year-end top trends E-newsletter, we noted the implosion of Prowess – the UK’s key advocacy organization for women’s economic empowerment. Well, things have gone from bad to worse in the UK for women’s enterprise development with the election of a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government. As feared/expected, one of the new government’s first acts was declaring that Business Link and Regional Development Agencies would be phased out, in favor of Local Enterprise Partnerships. It remains to be seen how this will impact focused/tailored business support services such as the women’s business centre pilot programme, but our guess is that it won’t be positive.
A new ED and Chair for NWBC: Another issue we followed with interest last year (though it did not make our top ten list) was stalled activity at the National Women’s Business Council in the wake of the 2008 US presidential election. Well, things are starting to move once again, with the hiring of a new executive director, Dana Lewis, and the appointment of a new chair, Donna James. Filling Council seats and revving up Council activities should commence in 2011. Women’s business advocates in the US are relieved.
Quinquennial census of women-owned firms in the US: Say what you will about the growing hegemony of political and economic power worldwide, the United States still rocks when it comes to measuring the number and economic power of women-owned businesses. The 2007 quinquennial economic census of women-owned firms was published this year. Womenable summarizes the key trends for you in this blogpost.
Progress in procurement: Doing business with the US government is getting easier for women-owned businesses. Finally, after a ten-year wait, a women-owned business procurement program is finally going to be launched by the SBA early next year. Not content to wait for this to happen, late in 2008 Women Impacting Public Policy, with the support of American Express OPEN, launched a “Give Me 5%” initiative (which refers to the gov’t-wide spending goal for women-owned firms) to educate women business owners on how to do business with the federal government. Where do things stand with respect to meeting that 5% goal? Federal spending with women-owned firms stands at 3.7% as of FY2009, up from 2.4% a decade earlier but still well short of the goal.
Making market connections: There are two new initiatives poised to help women business owners globally make significant market connections with another important customer: large corporations. First is WEConnect International, an organization that was founded in 2009 but started to get its sea legs this year with the launch of WEConnect Europe and an event in London this October. WEConnect’s goal is to make it easier for large corporations to find women-owned business suppliers and for women-owned firms to learn how to do business with large corporations. And speaking of large corporations, one of them – Coca-Cola (ranked 404 on Fortune’s Global 500 largest companies) – announced a “reach for the stars” goal at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative conference. Coke’s “5 by 20” project aims to draw 5 million women into its Micro Distribution Center program in Africa and elsewhere by the year 2020.