Taking the step toward being an entrepreneur isn’t an easy choice. For moms in particular, that choice may be one of necessity. Entrepreneurship empowers women to find work that aligns with their passions, bring income into the household, and obtain a more flexible work schedule. No matter where you are in the world, starting and owning a business is challenging, regardless of your gender.
In 2012, women owned businesses in the United States saw a 28% jump, now making up nearly 38% of all businesses throughout the country. Now five years down the road, it’s safe to assume that number has only continued to grow. Businesses owned by women gain faster in revenue and employees than similar sized male owned businesses, but women continue to face other obstacles to growth. [Source: Forbes]
Organizations like Springboard, a non-profit organization established to build high-growth technology oriented companies led by women, are helping bridge the gap between female entrepreneurs and long term success. More than 674 women-led companies have participated in the Springboard accelerator program, creating hundreds of jobs and securing millions of dollars in venture capital. Springboard provides training and access to fundraising programs developed to build the confidence and skills necessary to propel rapid growth businesses.
Not every woman is seeking to found a high-growth start-up (or at least maybe not when she’s just getting started). The National Association of Women Business Owners or NAWBO is a membership based organization who represents women entrepreneurs across the country. Local chapters throughout the nation host leadership development and community involvement activities that help business owners become established and develop a thriving local network.
Membership is open to women who are sole proprietors, partners, or corporate business owners with day-to-day management responsibility. Members are entitled to discounts from companies like UPS, Constant Contact, and Office Depot while also enjoying access to eLearning and networking among other NAWBO members. Annual conferences provide the opportunity for members to meet face-to-face, and the national organization works to lobby for public policies that advocate for women business owners in the national arena.
Outside of the United States, female entrepreneurs face similar challenges resulting from both societal gender discrimination and an overall lack of access to information and education. Microfunding websites, like Kiva, have driven attention to the plight of female business owners in less industrialized nations. In addition to microloans, large corporations have begun to pay attention to the challenges faced by women, and are developing programs to support and better entrepreneurs from around the world.
Coca-Cola is a brand most people are familiar with. From the classic logo to the timeless taste, there are few folks around the world who haven’t been impacted by the brand. Launched in 1892, Coca-Cola came of age when options for women were limited. Today, this business leader is recognizing the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs and working to bring more small business owners into their business supply chain on a global level.
Seven years ago, the Coca-Cola company announced their 5by20 initiative, aimed at empowering 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2020. With just three years remaining towards the end of their goal, 1.7 million women have been reached in 64 countries. Of those, 500,000 women launched businesses in 2016, going to show that this initiative is just starting to pick up speed.
By providing education and access to business training courses, financial services, and connections with mentors, women participating in the 5by20 program receive both the skills they need to launch a business and the confidence necessary to succeed. Once trained, entrepreneurs may join into the supply chain as either a producer, supplier, distributor, retailer, recycler, or artisan.
No matter where you are in the world, women are a powerful driving force. With the proper tools and resources, launching businesses that succeed and grow is a realistic future for entrepreneurs.