Home » Op-Ed: Women Entrepreneurship is on the Rise in the Southeast

Op-Ed: Women Entrepreneurship is on the Rise in the Southeast

by Allen Thomas, SBA Southeast Region Administrator

As we enter the third year of the Biden-Harris administration, we have a president who understands women entrepreneurs’ vital role in our economy.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) supports the president’s business advocacy by nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit and ensuring the small businesses have a voice in Washington, DC.

During Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we salute women entrepreneurs who take a risk in pursuit of their passions and who see setbacks as steps towards something bigger and better. As an entrepreneur and three-term mayor, I understand the importance of small businesses for our economy. I also understand how important women are to the workforce.

That was evident during the pandemic when millions were forced to leave their jobs to care for their families when childcare centers closed. As the economy rebounded, women created nearly 50 percent of all new business startups.

Women are a critical economic force across America. Recent SBA data shows that women comprise over 47 percent of workers and own 43 percent of businesses. More than 12 million women-owned businesses generate a record $1.5 trillion in revenue nationwide, with $387 billion coming from minority women-owned businesses.   

The number of firms owned by women is increasing at a rate 1.5 times the national average and many of those businesses are started by people of color and veterans. In Kentucky, 40.6 percent of businesses, almost 148,000 in total, are owned by women. These businesses are creating jobs and fueling our economy.

Women-owned businesses account for 47.9 percent of the jobs in the Commonwealth, according to the 2022 Kentucky Small Business Profile from the SBA Office of Advocacy. 

Since taking office, President Biden has charged the federal government with advancing equity for all, including communities that have long been underserved, and addressing systemic inequities in our nation’s policies and programs. 

In 2022, the agency approved nearly 19,000 loans worth $10 billion to women entrepreneurs nationwide. SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman has made loans one of her priorities to address gaps in access to capital for the smallest, underserved businesses, especially businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, and rural communities. 

Nationwide, more than one in four U.S. companies is owned or led by a woman, employing over eight million Americans. The SBA has built an extensive resource partner support network that provides women entrepreneurs with a wide range of services. The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership supports female entrepreneurs through advocacy, outreach, education, and support. Our network of Women’s Business Centers (WBC) provides training, coaching, and mentoring to entrepreneurs in local communities across the country. 

Over the years, WBCs have supported more than 150,000 women entrepreneurs, generating $1.7 billion in revenue and creating 17,000 new jobs. The Women’s Business Center of Kentucky has locations in Lexington and Louisville to serve our women business owners, offering business builder workshops, roundtable events and conferences focused on the unique needs and challenges women business owners face.

The SBA’s Office of Government Contracting and Business Development tracks the government’s goal of assuring that five percent of all federal contracting dollars are awarded to women-owned small businesses. The Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program (WOSB) is fully operational and helps provide a level playing field for women business owners. The federal government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses participating in the WOSB Program.  

During Women’s History Month, it is important to recognize women’s increasing role in our local and national economies. 

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