On July 23, 2014, a Majority Report of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship was released, detailing their key findings and next steps as it relates to the current and future landscapes of female entrepreneurship. Along with its noted challenges, the report highlighted improvements made for women entrepreneurs over the years which included:
• Women – owned businesses have increased from 4.6 percent in 1972 to 28.7 percent in 2007
• The growth rate of women – owned firm rose by 20 percent from 2002 to 2007
• Revenue share generated by women- owned firms rose from just 0.3 percent of all receipts in 1972 to 3.9 percent in 2007
• Growth of women-owned firms outpaces those of others
-from U.S. Census data from the 2007 Survey of Business Owners
Additionally, from 1997 to 2013, African American women-owned business grew by 258 percent, while Latina women-owned businesses grew by 180 percent.Despite the positive changes that have occurred over the years, it should come as no surprise that many of the findings from the Majority Report confirm that women face more challenges compared to men when it comes to procuring both clients and funding.
Below are some of the more important takeaways to keep in mind if you are currently a business owner, or contemplating striking out on your own. Women entrepreneurs still face the following three challenges:
1) Obtaining “fair” access to capital. A mere four percent of the total dollar value of small business loans go to women entrepreneurs. The solution proposed includes the expansion of microloans and making SBA’s Intermediary Loan Program permanent to provide more capital to women.
2) Getting equal access to federal contracts. The U.S. Government failed meeting its goal of awarding 5 percent of federal contracts to women – owned businesses. The solution proposed includes changing federal law giving women – owned businesses the opportunity to win sole source federal contracts.
3) Getting relevant business training and counseling. Women Business Centers, which provide specialized counseling and training to women business owners are in nearly all 50 states, have not been re-authorized since the 1990s and funding for these centers has remained flat. The solution proposed includes reauthorizing and funding the centers to provide adequate training and business counseling to women entrepreneurs, especially low income women.
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com . She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 10 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.
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