BY: SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Michelle Christian
Women entrepreneurs make up a growing share of U.S. small business owners. The American Express 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses report, which makes its projections based on data from the most recent U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners, estimates that they own 12.3 million companies in the U.S. – compare that to 1972 when there were only 402,000 women-owned businesses. Today, women employ more than 9.2 million people and generate $1.7 trillion in revenue. Last year, 1,821 women-owned businesses were launched every day.
During Women’s History Month in March, the U.S. Small Business Administration saluted women entrepreneurs who take risks to pursue their passions and to whom setbacks are just steps to success. This month, we honor their spirit and determination, and every day we help them on their journeys. All small businesses owners need a helping hand once in a while, whether it’s advice, funding or encouragement from someone who has been there.
The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership empowers female entrepreneurs through advocacy, outreach, education and support, as well as business training, access to capital, and marketing opportunities. Our network of 114 Women’s Business Centers provides training, coaching and mentoring to entrepreneurs in communities around the country. In Fiscal Year 2017, WBCs supported more than 150,000 women, resulting in tremendous revenue and job growth for the businesses they serve.
The SBA’s Office of Government Contracting and Business Development tracks the federal government’s goal to award 5 percent of its contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses. We train entrepreneurs to evaluate their readiness for contracting, register as a contractor, navigate federal rules, and qualify through small business set-asides. A total of $20.8 billion in prime government contracts were awarded to women-owned small businesses in 2017 alone – supporting more than 115,000 jobs.
One woman-owned small business benefitting from SBA programs like these is Pittsburgh’s Rose Morris. When her autistic son began climbing out of bed at night, an idea clicked, leading her to create The Safety Sleeper™ – a cocoon-like enclosure placed over his bed. Realizing the market for such a product expanded past her own home, Rose took accounting and exporting classes at Duquesne University’s Small Business Development Center and Chatham University. Then, she used SBA-backed financing as well as using early profits from sales of The Safety Sleeper™ to expand her operations. Fast-forward 10 years and Rose now works alongside nine employees producing The Safety Sleeper™ in a variety of colors and features – such as a travel mattress with washable fabric and a portable suitcase. Sales recently hit the $1 million mark, and she exports to 12 different countries.
I am proud to be part of all that SBA does to promote women entrepreneurs like Rose. It is my goal to ensure women remain a vital part of our nation’s economic success. Kick off your small business success with a visit to www.sba.gov.