The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) just released its annual report for Fiscal Year 2017, titled Accelerating the Future of Women Entrepreneurs: The Power of the Ecosystem, and NWBC Chair Carla Harris has issued the following the statement:

“This year, the National Women’s Business Council celebrates 29 years of advising the White House, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on issues of impact and importance to women business owners. We have convened the best intellect and experience, particularly around the challenges that faced women business owners and leaders in 1988 and that still face women in 2017, and we have executed the most ambitious research portfolio in the Council’s history. We have contributed important information on private markets, expanded the definition of necessity entrepreneurship for business origination, redefined an effective entrepreneurial ecosystem framework, and piloted a regional solutions lab model, helping women business owners succeed. As we look ahead to changes in industry, markets, and labor, we invite all champions of women business ownership to join us in accelerating the policy of tomorrow, meeting the needs of women entrepreneurs in the economy of the future.

“The growth of women business enterprises over the last ten years is unprecedented. Between 2002 and 2012, the number of women-owned firms increased at a rate 2-1/2 times the national average (52% vs. 20%), and employment in women-owned firms grew at a rate 4-1/2 times that of all firms (18% vs. just 4%). Women are starting more than 1,140 businesses per day, at a rate of more than 47 per hour. Yet, the comparison of revenue generated by women-owned firms does not reflect similar growth rates. The growth of average annual revenue of women-owned businesses merely paralleled that of all firms and only 1.7% of women owned businesses have average annual revenues of $1 million dollars or more. Equally concerning is that only 2% of women-owned firms have more than 10 employees, while 89.5% of women-owned firms have no employees other than the owner.

“As we considered this data, along with the data revealed in our recent research, we understood that policy officials, entrepreneurial development organizations, and other key resource partners need to be able to assess the mechanisms throughout their local economies that support women entrepreneurs. This spring, the Council unveiled an original, new model for an ecosystem framework that stakeholders can use to strengthen regional support for women entrepreneurs. The Council applied this collaborative framework through its NWBC Solutions Labs—a series of roundtable conversations—this summer. These dynamic discussions surfaced a number of policy solutions grounded in the very connectivity the ecosystem model elevates:

  • Local chambers of commerce, mayors’ or city councils’ offices, or other influential business organizations encourage community-level resource marketing and the collaboration of entrepreneurial support organizations at the local level.
  • Policymakers, investors, philanthropists, and other donors invest in broadband infrastructure in rural areas.
  • Ecosystem builders include business owners as participants in the continuum of education to strengthen training for the labor force they employ.
  • The federal government explore developing a student loan forgiveness program for start-up entrepreneurs.


“The Council’s latest research and engagement efforts disclose additional recommendations for policymakers based on other topics studied throughout the year, including: supplier diversity programscommercialization among women in STEM fieldsincubators and acceleratorscrowdfundingsocial entrepreneurship; and millennialBlack and Hispanic women entrepreneurship.

“We are committed to working more closely with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Congress, and the White House to promote and construct policies that will address access to capital and market inequities that women business owners still face. We strongly believe that if we can address these two particular challenges, then women business owners will have the most important tools that they need to successfully scale their businesses and to accelerate their impressive rate of job creation.

“Looking ahead to FY18, we seize this opportune moment to re-establish a baseline understanding of current issues, opportunities, resources, and gaps impacting women business owners. In collaboration with the Library of Congress Federal Research Division, we will be releasing an in-depth analysis of political, economic, social, and technological research from 2010-present in the key areas of access to capital, access to markets, entrepreneurial development, and economic impact. We look forward to advancing research and policy that will serve the important constituents of women entrepreneurs and leaders.”

The NWBC annual report for Fiscal Year 2017 can be viewed on the website here.
In this annual report, the NWBC presents a review of the Council’s research findings and presentation of policy recommendations; a summary of actions taken by the Council, key stakeholders, and other parts of the entrepreneurial ecosystem that have impacted women business owners; and a look ahead to new research agenda that the Council will pursue for Fiscal Year 2018. All NWBC research reports can be viewed on the site here.