Women are starting new firms at twice the rate of all other businesses.
That was the recent update from the Small Business Administration. The news may not surprise as many business people as they look around the meeting tables and find genders have changed since the days of the male-only smoking rooms.
There are 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the nation, representing 40 percent of all businesses. Women-owned businesses employ 27.5 million people and generate more than $3.6 trillion in sales.
SBA loans to women entrepreneurs are at record levels. The SBA reported the number and dollar value of approved loans to women entrepreneurs has nearly tripled since fiscal year 1992. Since that year, the SBA has backed more than 69,440 loans amounting to $10.7 billion for women-owned small business. And in 1999, the SBA backed 10,244 loans worth $1.9 billion to women-owned businesses.
For fiscal year 1998, the Small Business Administration:
-- Backed more than $40 billion in loans to 491,000 small businesses.
-- Extended management and technical assistance to nearly 830,000 small businesses through its 12,400 Service Corps of Retired Executives volunteers and 1,000 small business development center locations.
-- Helped 6,000 small disadvantaged businesses obtain $5.9 billion in federal contracts.
-- Minnesota District ranked fifth in the nation in use of loan guarantees, second in loans to women and fourth in loans to veterans.
-- Minnesota District was named best district office in the nation because of goal accomplishment.
"Addressing the special needs of women business owners is essential to our national economy," SBA Administrator Aida Alvarez stated in a news release. "The SBA impacts the growth and expansion of women-owned small businesses more than it ever has before. Through financial, technical and management assistance, the U.S. Small Business Administration is doing more than ever to help level the playing field for women entrepreneurs who still face unique obstacles in the world of business."
In addition to its other loan programs, the SBA also offers the MicroLoan Program for small start-up businesses. Since it began, the program has provided $88.7 million in loans, with women entrepreneurs receiving more than 41 percent of that amount, the SBA reported.
Under the loan pre-qualification program, started in 1994, women have received more than $117 million worth of loans. The program helps guide applicants through a loan application process and prequalifies them before they apply at the bank.
Last year the SBA's Small Business Investment Company Program invested $55 million in women-owned small businesses. The program also licenses three women-managed venture capital companies in 1998, which are the first to base their investment strategies on helping women-owned companies.
The Women's Business Center Program is a public-private partnership providing business and technical assistance to women. Eighty centers located nationwide provide long-term training, counseling, networking and mentoring to potential and existing entrepreneurs with special emphasis on socially and economically disadvantaged women. Last year, the women's business centers served more than 14,000 clients.
In addition, the SBA also has the Online Women's Business Center, a free interactive Web site offering information on best business practices, management techniques, networking, counseling, industry news and research and other useful information to women who want to start or grow a business. It is available in English, Spanish and Russian. The Web site receives almost two million hits per month, the SBA reported.
The SBA has signed formal partnership agreements with 15 leading business and professional women's organizations to reach women entrepreneurs more effectively with information about SBA programs.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.