Over the past couple of months, Carolina Small Business has announced a few new initiatives to help spur the growth and development of women owned businesses in our state. Women entrepreneurs have a significant impact on the economy, but unfortunately lack access to the support and resources they need to achieve their full potential. In 2014 we made a commitment to women entrepreneurs by establishing our Western Women’s Business Center (WWBC) in Asheville, NC. These new programs further our commitment and we hope will serve as a catalyst to the success of women businesses.
In September, we announced new funding received from the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program, powered by Bank of America, to expand access to capital and technical assistance to women entrepreneurs. Under this program, eligible female business owners would receive a 2 percent reduction in the interest rate of their approved loans (details on the program can be found here).
In October, we opened the Eastern Women’s Business Center (EWBC), in collaboration with Elizabeth City State University. Like our WWBC, the EWBC will provide training, coaching, and technical assistance to entrepreneurs in northeastern NC, focusing on women, to help reduce the barriers they face and enable them to succeed.
Finally, just this week, we launched Coastal Women’s Ventures, in partnership with the YWCA Lower Cape Fear, based in Wilmington, which will support business opportunities for women through coaching, education, and access to capital.
In North Carolina, women-owned businesses are 36 percent of all firms, and they generate $124 billion in revenues and $24 billion in annual payroll. Among very small businesses– those with less than 20 employees– women make up 16 percent of businesses. This is a significant sector of the state’s economy.
However, women also face barriers. They lag behind in revenues, compared to their male counterparts. Revenues generated by women-owned businesses only account for 9.4 percent of all sales generated. Nationally, only one in five firms with revenue of $1 million is woman-owned. When seeking to access credit, women-owned are more likely to be turned down and discouraged from applying for loans. Women continue to rely on personal savings as the top source of financing for their businesses.
That’s why initiatives like the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program, the EWBC, and Coastal Women’s Ventures are so important. They help to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs, giving them an equal footing and a chance to succeed. Particularly in the eastern region, where the EWBC and Coastal Women’s Ventures are located, the need for small business development is great. As we’ve discussed in the past, the eastern region faces particular economic challenges. We hope that our efforts to assist women businesses can elevate their potential and create economic benefits for all North Carolinians.