By Marsha Bailey, WEV CEO & Founder
I’m going to borrow a term from Nobel Economist Paul Krugman’s blog and warn readers that this post is slightly wonkish. I hope you non-wonks will find it interesting regardless.
As many of you know, I’ve been traveling to Washington, D.C. more frequently during the past 18 months in my role as Chair of the national Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) and in my newly appointed position as a member of the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC).
The AWBC advocates for and helps build the capacity of a network of 108 Women’s Business Centers across the nation (of which WEV is one). The NWBC conducts research and provides policy recommendations and advice to the President, Congress and the U.S. Small Business Administration on the status and concerns of woman-owned businesses. It consists of 15 appointed members including women business owners and representatives of six national women’s business organizations.
Last week I attended my first NWBC meeting and I wanted to share some of their priorities and research. NWBC has established four priorities or “pillars” under which their research and policy recommendations are organized:
1) Access to Capital
2) Access to Markets
3) Job Creation and Growth
This summer, NWBC released a fascinating study, “Access to Capital by High-Growth Women-Owned Business” .
What stood out among many key findings was that:
1) Women start businesses with roughly half as much capital as men and are much more likely to use internal sources of funding such as savings, personal credit cards and loans from family members
2) Looking at the largest firms owned by women and men as measured by employment in 2011, the top ranked woman-owned firms had fewer than 15 employees while none of the top-ranked male-owned firms had fewer than 40 employees, and
3) “Male founders were more than three times as likely as female founders to access equity financing through angels or VCs (14.4% vs 3.6%).”
It’s obvious that there’s lots of work to be done to ensure that woman-owned businesses reach their full potential.
NWBC is considering the following research topics in the coming fiscal year:
1) Women’s Participation in International Markets
2) Commercialization of STEM research by women
3) The entrepreneurial pipeline: how young women view business and entrepreneurship
4) State of Women-Owned Businesses using the 2012 Census Survey of Small Businesses
5) Women’s attitudes towards bank debt
6) Angel investment in woman-owned businesses
7) Whether business accelerator programs targeted specifically for women deliver greater benefits and
8) Examining the entrepreneurial ecosystem with respect to how it supports women-owned businesses from start-up through the entire business lifecycle.
Research is important because it supports much of what WEV and our sister organizations observe in our daily interactions with women entrepreneurs. Well-crafted research helps us make the case for policy change and programmatic support for Women’s Business Centers.
WEV conducts its own client outcome research every summer to see how our clients are doing and what their unmet needs are. As a result of our research, we’ve launched new programs such as Business Plan Intensive and Thrive. We also identify successful clients who we feature on our website. Key findings from last year’s survey can be found here.