Women-owned firms struggle with lack of access to capital

When it comes to women-owned businesses, it looks at first glance that women have made a lot of progress: 36 percent of all businesses in the U.S. are owned by women.

But dig beneath that number and reality is grim, says Margot Dorfman, chief executive of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, which recently released a report on the issue.

A few numbers:

  • 4.23 percent – The amount of all U.S. revenue earned by women-owned firms. (Male-owned firms garnered 28 percent).
  • $25,000 – More than two-thirds of women-owned firms have less than this amount annually in revenue.
  • 10 percent – The percentage of women owned firms that have employees.
  • $10,000 – The annual average receipt drop of women-owned firms between 2007 and 2012. (Male-owned firms gained more than $27,000 over the same period).

For women of color, the numbers look worse. They own 28 percent of all women-owned businesses, but garner just 14 percent of the revenue.

In an interview, Dorfman said people need to look beyond the headlines:

Access to capital is the No. 1 issue for women-owned firms. Discrimination is still rampant. Women are still being asked for their husband’s signature. They are pushed toward high interest credit cards. They will liquidate their retirement savings to support their business.

California, the most populous state, has the largest number of women-owned firms at 1.3 million and ranks 8th in the nation for the percent of all firms owned by women. When it comes to the average receipts in the state for these businesses, California ranks 20th.

Golden State women own 41 percent of firms in retail, 26 percent of information services firms and 61 percent of health care and social services companies.

Dorfman called on all people to pressure political, government and business leaders “to take action to open the doors to opportunity for women-owned firms.”

Above: Illustration from Thinkstock


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  • TheFinanceGuy

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