The National Women’s Business Council Chair Carla Harris keynoted this year’s Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition as entrepreneurs, executives, and investors from various parts of the world gathered in Detroit for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition (AMIC). The Accelerate Michigan conference is an international business competition designed to increase entrepreneurial activity by bringing together local entrepreneurs with local, national, and international investors.

Chair Harris’ keynote address emphasized the importance of leveling the playing field, access to resources, and creating pathways to entrepreneurship for women:

“Recently the SEC reversed the 80 year old ruling that now allows you to market beyond just accredited investors, which levels the playing field for many would-be entrepreneurs that might not have had the resources to engage a professional to raise capital for them, or did not have access to the networks of angel investors and venture capitalists to raise capital to get their businesses started or to get them to scale. This is a particularly good development for women entrepreneurs, who traditionally have had challenges accessing these kinds of networks for funding.”

It is evident that certain sources of capital for women, such as personal savings, tend to be associated with lower amounts of capital used to start and grow firms. The number one source of capital for women-owned businesses is personal savings. During the AMIC keynote address Chair Harris also points out that opportunity is ripe for women entrepreneurs to access more capital:

“There is commitment from the top to help, from federal, state and major philanthropic entities, the Department of the Treasury, the EPA, HUD, the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, The Small Business Administration, the Michigan State Housing Authority, the Ford Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, just to name a few.”

There are over 25,000 women-owned businesses in Detroit that stand to gain from federal aid and resources to help boost Michigan’s economy. Detroit is home to nearly 50,000 businesses, which means over half (51.4%) are women-owned.  According to the most recent Census data from 2007, women-owned firms in Detroit have made a significant economic impact, earning $1.3 billion in receipts annually and employing nearly 10,000 people.

The National Women’s Business Council’s research efforts will continue to provide a platform to broaden the conversation about women entrepreneurs’ impact on the economy. Our recent visit to Detroit, Michigan guides our perception of the challenges and opportunities to advance women entrepreneurs.


Krystal Glass
(202) 205-6829