Hello e51 community!
First, a bit about me! I’m the new intern at e51, Cooper! I just graduated (a few weeks ago!) from my beloved alma mater, Sewanee: The University of the South, with a B.A. in Economics & Women’s and Gender Studies. I’m the first Women’s and Gender Studies graduate at my school, and most certainly, one of the very few (future) economists to focus on women’s issues. In undergrad my two independent senior theses topics were employment discrimination of lesbians and the productivity of women leaders at S&P 100 companies. Perhaps I haven’t yet joined the ranks of Claudia Goldin and Marilyn Waring, but there’s something to say for the intersection of my interests that gives me a unique perspective. Anyway, I’m excited to join the e51 team before I begin my Master’s in Economic Development (with a certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies) at Vanderbilt in the fall, and I’ll be getting my hands dirty interacting face-to-face with the female entrepreneurs of Raleigh.
One of the biggest questions for me to tackle at e51 is… What is the state of women entrepreneurship in the U.S., and more specifically, Raleigh?
So what is the United State of Women?
The good news:
We are certainly making strides! In 2012, nearly 29% of all business owners were women, and this number represents an increase of 27.5% since 2007. Additionally, the revenue of women-owned businesses increased 35% (from 1.2 to 1.6 trillion) over the same period.
The Small Business Association (SBA) is dedicated to aiding female entrepreneurship, providing over 2.5 million women with services from over 900 Small Business Development Centers, one of which is housed right here in Raleigh.
SBA loans are the best bet for women in entrepreneurship. From FY2014 to FY2015, funding for women-led enterprises from the SBA increased by 19.2%.
The not-so-good news:
Though the percentage of women-owned businesses has increased, women-led businesses still only comprise 29% of businesses, while women are 51% of the population and nearly 58% of college graduates.
The White House touted that 5% of contracts are going to women-owned small businesses. On second look, this is not a cause for celebration; only 5% of government contracts go to women.
Though women venture capitalists are more likely to invest in women-led companies, women only make up 3% of venture capitalists. This is part of why women have trouble getting capital. We need to create a pipeline that supports women all the way from investment to sole proprietorships.
(See the United State of Women for more information)
But what about the Raleigh State of Women?
The good news:
The Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Program (MWBE) in Raleigh is designed to help growth in minority and women-owned businesses. These resources, alongside mandates that MWB’s be utilized in all parts of a city’s contracting, are crucial to helping MWB’s in Raleigh. The goal is to hold 7% of non-minority females and 8% of minorities (15%) of contracts. This is significantly higher than the 5% goal the White House holds.
According to NerdWallet.Inc, Raleigh ranks as the 8th best city for female entrepreneurship because of the low unemployment rate, the high number of businesses per person, and available resources such as Business and Professional Women (BPW) and MWBE.
The number of women-owned businesses in NC increased by 83% in the past 15 years, making it one of the top-growth states in the country.
The not-so-good news:
While Raleigh is generally a good place to do business, it’s not necessarily good for specifically women in business. Women were severely lacking in incubator participation in the Triangle-area, and no incubators were specifically aimed at women, both of which are indicators of a positive business climate for women.
As of 2007 (the latest available data), only 11.8% of women-owned businesses in NC had employees, meaning that women-led enterprises are typically a sole proprietorship.
Women-led firms had 75% less revenue than male firms in NC, which again indicates that women’s capacity has not yet been tapped into-- women entrepreneurs in NC have the potential to contribute further to the economy as well as employment.
Perhaps Raleigh is doing better than most of the country, but we still have a long way to go! I’ll be working towards creating a larger and deeper network of female entrepreneurs in the Triangle Area this summer-- which will only be possible with your help connecting and empowering the women entrepreneurs in the area.
Until next time!