Research Reports

ByNWBC Council

Policy and Progress: Supporting the Growth of Women’s Business Enterprise

Policy and Progress Supporting the Growth of Women’s Business Enterprise

The historic growth of women-owned businesses in the United States has generated increased demand for the creation of innovative programs and policies to foster their growth. Today, for the first time, two new reports from the National Women’s Business Council document this progress by examining current best practices in support of women’s entrepreneurship and by recording the history of policies that have resulted in today’s unprecedented 10.6 million U.S. businesses in which women are equal or majority owners.

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ByNWBC Council

Best Practices in Supporting Women’s Entrepreneurship: A Compendium of Public and Private Sector Organizations and Initiatives

Best Practices in Supporting Women’s Entrepreneurship A Compendium of Public and Private Sector Organizations and Initiatives

The historic growth of women-owned businesses in the United States has generated increased demand for the creation of innovative programs and policies to foster their growth. Today, for the first time, two new reports from the National Women’s Business Council document this progress by examining current best practices in support of women’s entrepreneurship and by recording the history of policies that have resulted in today’s unprecedented 10.6 million U.S. businesses in which women are equal or majority owners.

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ByNWBC Council

Enterprising Women: The Legacy and the Future

Enterprising Women The Legacy and the Future

A recent series of roundtable discussions with women entrepreneurs and others in the women’s enterprise community provided a revealing perspective on the tremendous accomplishments of women entrepreneurs since this Nation’s founding, as well as the challenges faced by women business owners today and how those challenges can be better met in the future.

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ByNWBC Council

Women’s Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century A Summary of Data from National and Regional Summits

Women’s Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century A Summary of Data from National and Regional Summits

Access to capital and affordable health insurance and the state of the economy top the list of concerns for America’s women business owners, according to a new study released today by the National Women’s Business Council. The study compiled polling responses from participants attending five entrepreneurship summits entitled, “Women Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century,” which were co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Small Business Administration, with support from the National Women’s Business Council.

The summits were held in Washington, DC; New Britain, CT; Nashville, TN; Houston, TX; and St. Louis, MO. They provided a forum for women business owners and other attendees to express their ongoing challenges and concerns by allowing participants to voice their opinions via electronic surveys which provided real-time responses to survey questions. The complete findings from those surveys are now available in a new report from the National Women’s Business Council, “Women’s Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century: A Summary of Data from National and Regional Summits.”

Overall, access to capital was the most important issue, cited by 28% of respondents. More than half of the women surveyed found it difficult to secure the capital to start their business. The majority of respondents were most likely to rely on personal savings as their primary source of start-up capital, followed by reinvested business earnings, loan, or lines of credit. While access to capital was cited as the most important issue at each location, the proportion of respondents citing it varied by location (in Houston, 48% of respondents named access to capital as the greatest problem, whereas in other locations the proportion of respondents who selected access to capital ranged from one- quarter in Washington, DC, to 28% in Nashville, to 32% in New Britain). Friends and associates, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and private banks were considered to be the most helpful sources of information about business financing options.

“The results of these surveys will play an important role as we continue to move forward with research initiatives and policy recommendations that help foster the growth of women-owned businesses,” said Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman and CEO of Carlson Companies and Chair of the National Women’s Business Council. “This study underscores the challenges that women business owners continue to face. Clearly, there is still much more to be done in terms of improving access to capital, access to affordable health care coverage, and access to Federal contracts, as well as in many other areas. The National Women’s Business Council is committed to further exploring these issues and – most importantly – to helping the 108th Congress develop and implement viable public policy solutions.”

Access to affordable health care coverage was a top concern of attendees, as with fewer than half of the respondents reported being able to provide health care benefits to their employees. The cost of health care coverage was cited as the biggest barrier to offering health insurance. While some women business owners reported being able to absorb increased health care costs, many were either passing the increased costs along to their employees or planned to change the coverage offered. Women surveyed overwhelmingly supported reforms – including the use of tax credits and combined bargaining power – that would make offering coverage more affordable. The NWBC has voiced its support for one of these reforms, the adoption of Association Health Plans (AHPs), which would allow small businesses that belong to associations to enjoy the same “pooling” benefits that large employers enjoy.

Women business owners did not generally view the Federal government and its contracting systems as helpful or easy to navigate, and strong leadership was considered the best way to ensure that women-owned businesses are awarded the Congressionally-mandated goal of 5% of Federal contract dollars.

The study’s findings point to several opportunities for future research:

  • Survey participants identified access to capital as a critical concern, and the majority said that they found itdifficult to raise capital. Additional research could identify the specific barriers related to accessing capital

    and determine the relationship of those barriers to demographics, geography, and type of business.

  • As women business owners did not view the Federal government as helpful, additional research might beneeded on women business owners’ views of the Federal government and perceived barriers.
  • Finally, survey results indicated a great deal of support from women business owners for reforms – such as tax credits or purchasing pools – that would make health insurance more affordable. Research on businessowners’ experiences with these options for offering coverage might be valuable to national level discussions about expanding coverage.

The largest portion of conference participants were business owners, although government and corporate leaders and representatives of organizations that provide services to women business owners also took part. There was a wide range of business ownership experience, from those in the process of starting a business to those who have owned a business for ten years or more. Among the women business owners who participated in the survey, most started their businesses themselves.

The research report was prepared for the National Women’s Business Council by Synthesis Professional Services, a woman-owned consulting firm located in Rockville, MD. A copy of the full report and a summary of the research is available on the NWBC web site, www.nwbc.gov.

ByNWBC Council

Mentoring in the Business Environment

Mentoring in the Business Environment

Mentoring programs most beneficial to women business owners are well matched to the stage of business development and offer specific elements unique to women’s mentoring practices. So says a new study released today by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). The report, “Mentoring in the Business Environment,” examines existing, formal mentoring programs for women and men business owners by comparing program structures, identifying best practices, and exploring the unique characteristics among programs geared specifically to women. The study also reviews existing research on mentoring for women business owners and suggests avenues for additional exploration such as e-mentoring.

As of 2002, there are an estimated 10.1 million privately-held businesses in which a woman holds at least 50% ownership stake, including 6.2 million majority-owned women-owned firms. Women-owned businesses are growing at twice the rate of all U.S. firms.

“Women-owned businesses continue to drive our nation’s economy,” said Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman and CEO of Carlson Companies and Chair of the National Women’s Business Council. “With this growth comes increasing demand for the resources and tools to facilitate business advancement. Good mentoring can be a key predictor of success.”

Seventeen organizations that focus on women, mentoring and entrepreneurship shared information about nineteen existing mentoring programs for business owners. The organizations included non-profits, membership organizations, universities, and government offices. The mentoring practices examined offer an understanding of what makes a program successful including planning, design, promotion, recruitment and support.

The study notes that at given points of a business’ maturity, a business owner appears to be best served by a particular type of mentoring program. In addition, there are some specific program elements that may prove especially beneficial for women business owners. The study reviewed three categories of mentoring programs, each of which may best serve a business in a specific stage or phase. These include:

  • Entrepreneurial training programs (which provide subject-specific training to groups of prospective or nascent entrepreneurs) for businesses that are pre-start-up or start-up;
  • Mentor-protégé programs (which match a business owner with a seasoned business mentor to facilitate coaching, knowledge transfer, and the creation of contacts, among other things) for businesses that are start- up or second-stage. Women business owners appear to benefit most from a program that matches one protégée with several mentors, or one mentor with several protégées, and gives each protégée the experience of a realistic stretch via a mentor(s) who is at the very next level up; and
  • Peer-to-peer networking (which gathers non-competitive peers from a variety of industries to confidentially examine significant business challenges that each faces) for businesses that are second-stage or established. Women business owners would appear to benefit most from a structured form of peer-to-peer networking that plans participant composition, develops meeting agendas and monitors goal achievement.

    Irrespective of whether an organization offers entrepreneurial training, a mentor-protégé program or peer-to-peer networking, there are three key effective practices for business mentoring:

  • Structure that includes a well-planned orientation with discussion of expectations, goals, time commitment and effective communication processes;
  • Participants who are familiar with and embrace the concept of mentoring; and
  • Promotion that consists of word-of-mouth and direct recruitment efforts.

    The study also includes a review of mainstream and academic literature on mentoring for women business owners. The review reveals that discussion and analysis of business mentoring has focused primarily on corporate mentoring and related programs. Very little has been written on the topic of mentoring programming for business owners.

    The study concludes with several recommendations for continued research and program support, including:

    • Exploring e-mentoring (also known as telementoring) programs and their advantages for women business owners;
    • Raising the profile of the mentoring concept through outreach. Methods might include: creating an online portal to serve as a single point of entry to business mentoring resources, with web links and information about existing programs; publicizing the business development tools of entrepreneur-support organizations that focus on helping business owners measure their successes and get to the next level; or working with major magazines whose audience is primarily women business owners to determine the availability of no or low cost advertising opportunities for women’s business mentoring programs;
    • Using the study’s findings as a springboard for further research on the successful elements of each type of mentoring program; and
    • Encouraging formal and informal evaluation of programs to help build the case for business mentoring and to help determine the extent to which women’s program needs differ from those of men. While many of the organizations reported investing time in follow-up program evaluation through the use of exit surveys or informal verbal check-ins, it was noted that none have begun to evaluate their programs formally and consistently.

      “This study is a critical first step in understanding more about existing business mentoring programs and how they serve women business owners,” said Carlson Nelson. “But this is just the beginning. This study will direct future research about mentoring programs and most importantly, it can inspire the creation of new ways to facilitate mentoring, such as e-mentoring, which will be vital in expanding the accessibility and immediacy of mentoring resources.”

ByNWBC Council

Summary Report: Roundtable on Access to Affordable Health Care Coverage by Women-Owned Businesses

Summary Report Roundtable on Access to Affordable Health Care Coverage by Women-Owned Businesses

Washington, DC – Women business owners are growing increasingly concerned about the difficulty of securing affordable health care coverage for employees. It is estimated that 60% of the 41 million uninsured Americans reside in families with members employed by small businesses. The NWBC estimates that 7.3 million of the uninsured are employees or families of employees of the 9.1 million women-owned firms in the U.S.

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) recognizes the need for more information about this critical issue, and has conducted an analysis of current research and the alternative solutions that have been proposed. This report, “Access to Affordable Health Coverage for Women-Owned Businesses: A Summary of Key Issues and Policy Options,” is now available at the NWBC’s Web site, www.nwbc.gov (or by clicking http://www.nwbc.gov/ResearchPublications/listReports.html ).

In response to the feedback and input received from women business owners across the country, the NWBC also convened a Roundtable discussion in February to hear from those who are directly affected by this problem. The Roundtable brought together women business owners, business association leaders, issue experts, and public policy makers from across the U.S. to discuss not only the concerns involved in providing affordable health care coverage, but also the most effective solutions that can be considered in the 108th Congress. A complete transcript of this event is now available at the NWBC’s web site, www.nwbc.gov(or by clicking http://www.nwbc.gov/ResearchPublications/listReports.html ). The transcript includes testimony from Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration Hector Barreto, and Representative Donald Manzullo, Chair of the House Committee on Small Business.

“We are pleased to announce the publication of these two reports. We hope that they help to increase awareness among the general public and policy makers about the growing concern over this issue within the women’s business owner community,” said Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman and CEO of Carlson Companies and Chair of the National Women’s Business Council. “The problem of the uninsured is one with many adverse and wide-reaching effects that touch us all in one way or another.”

The NWBC supports proposals now under consideration to establish Association Health Plans as one option for small businesses to access affordable health insurance. Association Health Plans allow professional associations to offer lower cost insurance nationwide to their membership.

ByNWBC Council

Access to Affordable Health Coverage for Women-Owned Businesses: A Summary of Key Issues and Policy Options

Access to Affordable Health Coverage for Women-Owned Businesses A Summary of Key Issues and Policy Options

Women business owners are growing increasingly concerned about the difficulty of securing affordable health-care coverage for employees. It is estimated that 60 percent of the 41 million uninsured Americans reside in families with members employed by small businesses. The NWBC estimates that 7.3 million of the uninsured are employees or families of employees of the 9.1 million women-owned firms in the U.S. This report takes an in-depth look at this critical issue and includes an analysis of current research and the alternative solutions that have been proposed.

ByNWBC Council

Women-owned Small Businesses in Federal Subcontracting: Measures and Data

Women-owned Small Businesses in Federal Subcontracting: Measures and Data

A new study released today by the National Women’s Business Council examines and disproves the argument that lesser capability is a valid reason why women-owned firms continue to be under- represented in the Federal subcontracting arena.

The NWBC study, Women-Owned Small Businesses in Federal Subcontracting: Measures and Data, notes that although women-owned businesses currently represent 38% of all U.S. businesses and continue to grow rapidly, the share of Federal contracting dollars awarded to women’s business enterprises has not kept pace. In fiscal year 1999, the share of prime Federal contract dollars awarded to women-owned small firms stood at 2.2%, up from just 1.3% in FY 1992. The share of measurable subcontracting dollars stood at 4.6% as of FY 1999, compared to 0.7% in FY 1992.

Some have suggested that women-owned firms receive a small share of Federal subcontracts because they are not as prepared to deliver the necessary services; that is, because their ability – or “capacity” as it’s described in the report – is not on par with the average business. In response to this argument, the study provides an analysis of the relative capacity of women-owned small firms compared to all small firms, which indicates that between 14% and 24% of the overall business capacity in the U.S. is contributed by women-owned firms. If parity with all small firms is 1, the current disparity ratio of women-owned small firms in the subcontracting arena is 0.6. Therefore, lesser ability is not a substantiated rationale for the under-representation of women-owned businesses in Federal subcontracting.

“This study has not only provided important validation of the ability of women-owned businesses to perform in the Federal procurement arena, but has also led the Council to recommend that aggressive efforts be taken to increase access for women-owned firms in Federal subcontracting,” said Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman and CEO of Carlson Companies and Chair of the National Women’s Business Council. “In particular, we hope the Administration will fully implement its October 2002 strategy on contract unbundling (including in subcontracting), support measurable contracting goals, and penalize firms that use women subcontractors to win a bid, but do not follow through by giving them the business.”

Nelson also noted that there are some very positive public and private initiatives underway to help increase Federal contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses, including the Small Business Administration’s and U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Business Matchmaking Program” as well as Women Impacting Public Policy’s and Office Depot’s “The BusinessNetwork.com” Web site. Both are designed to match up women businesses with Federal and private buyers. “We are particularly appreciative,” said Nelson, “of the successes of the Departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, Treasury, and the General Services Administration in meeting and even exceeding the 5% goal in Federal contracting to women-owned businesses.”

The study also found that the share of subcontracting to women-owned firms declines as the total value of subcontracts increase. When prime Federal contractors subcontract less than $1 million, women-owned small firms receive 8.6% of those dollars. This amount declines to 3.7% when prime Federal contractors subcontract more than $1 million.

While the study’s authors suggest a strategy for gathering more information and conducting further research, the Council has used these initial findings to offer several policy recommendations:

  • Put in place an Administration-supported program designed to drive increases in Federal contracting to women-owned businesses and hold agencies accountable;
  • Full implementation of the Administration’s October 2002 strategy on contract unbundling, to ensure that procurement opportunities remain open to all small businesses, including women-owned businesses; and
  • Implement a system of incentives and penalties for prime contractors to encourage compliance with subcontracting plans and goals.

    The complete report, Women-Owned Small Businesses in Federal Subcontracting: Measures and Data, as well as a research brief highlighting key findings, is available online at the NWBC Web site, www.nwbc.gov. The study was conducted for the Council by MacroSys Research and Technology, a minority-owned business headquartered in Washington, DC.

The National Women’s Business Council is committed to conducting research on issues of importance to women business owners and their organizations; to communicating these findings widely; to connecting the women’s business community to public policy makers; and to providing programs and platforms for change in order to expand and improve opportunities for women business owners and their enterprises.

ByNWBC Council

Getting to Success: Helping Women Business Owners Gain Access to Capital. A Study of Best Practices in Access to Capital Training Programs for Women Business Owners

Getting to Success Helping Women Business Owners Gain Access to Capital. A Study of Best Practices in Access to Capital Training Programs for Women Business Owners

Washington, DC – A new study released today by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) features successful programs from around the country which provide women business owners with the knowledge and assistance to secure capital.

Even though women-owned businesses represent 38% of all U.S. businesses and are growing at twice the rate as all other firms, women received only 5% of the almost $9 billion dollars in venture capital invested in 2000. Studies show that access to capital consistently ranks as one of the biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs seeking to start or expand their business.

The NWBC study, Getting to Success: Helping Women Business Owners Gain Access to Capital, identifies nine programs that successfully educate women business owners on methods for obtaining capital, documents the programs’ common traits, and identifies trends that may serve as guidelines for similar programs.

“This study provides guidance and direction to the nation’s 9.1 million women business owners and emerging entrepreneurs in need of information about gaining access to capital,” said Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman and CEO of Carlson Companies and Chair of the National Women’s Business Council. “It provides sound models for service providers seeking best practice information in order to improve or establish their own programs. Equally important, the study’s findings will assist public policy makers in their efforts to broaden opportunities for women business owners.”

The study found that these programs had similar characteristics:

  • Designed specifically to address the unique needs of the community
  • Included methods for soliciting and responding to feedback

Successful Training Programs Open Door to Capital for Women Business Owners, pg. 2

  • Identified realistic goals and expectations for clients
  • Retained a highly-committed staff with business experience
    The following nine programs were determined to be successful models of access to capital training based on the

    quality and scope of their services and the results of participants:

  • ACCION New York (Brooklyn, NY)
  • The Coleman Foundation (Chicago, IL)
  • Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship (College Park, MD)
  • The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
  • The Institute for Social and Economic Development (Coralville, IA)
  • Minnesota Women’s Business Center (Fosston, MN)
  • The Wachovia Corporation (Charlotte, NC)
  • Women’s Business Center of Northern Virginia (Falls Church, VA)
  • Women’s Growth Capital Fund (Washington, DC)

    A full description of each program is included in the study, which is available online at the NWBC Web site, www.nwbc.gov. The study was conducted for the Council by Synthesis Professional Services, a woman-owned business based in Rockville, MD.

    The National Women’s Business Council is committed to conducting research on issues of importance to women business owners and their organizations; to communicating these findings widely; to connecting the women’s business community to public policy makers; and to providing programs and platforms for change in order to expand and improve opportunities for women business owners and their enterprises.

Women-owned businesses are playing an increasingly important role in the U.S. economy. They are growing in numbers at twice the rate of all U.S. firms, and employment in women-owned firms is increasing at 11⁄2 times the national rate. They are diversifying as well, both in terms of the industries their firms represent and the ethnic background of their owners. Yet, access to capital remains problematic. Studies have found that some women business owners still feel that banks are unwilling to lend to them,i and those who do have bank credit have lower levels of capital available to them.ii Concurrent with these trends, or perhaps as a result, is significant growth in the number of training and assistance programs for women business owners seeking access to capital for business growth and development. This study focuses on nine such programs, and uncovers their common traits and practices.

Common Traits and Best Practices

The programs selected for profiling and analysis in this research study were chosen to represent a variety of services provided, populations reached, information disseminated, and funding obtained and provided. While these programs varied in the scope and types of assistance offered, they shared these common characteristics:

Community Focus: A focus on the local community in which they operate proves to be a strategy for success. This community focus not only is evidenced in the way in which the organizations obtain financial support from local agencies and organizations, but through an active local volunteer base of trainers, mentors, in-kind service providers, and strategic business support.

Feedback Response: Successful programs heed not only their own advice, but respond well to the feedback of others: clients, funding organizations, and other strategic partners. Successful organizations are also proactive in seeking feedback through customer satisfaction surveys, newsletters, web-based communications, and meetings and conferences.

Realistic Expectations: Successful programs counsel clients on the skills, time commitment, and perseverance required of business ownership, providing essential tools and support, but also providing a necessary vetting process for prospective owners.

Staff Commitment and Experience: Having not only a dedicated and committed staff, but leaders and trainers with real-world business skills is another essential component of a successful program. Hands-on training

requires the instilling of practical skills as opposed to textbook theory, and these successful programs share that characteristic.

Programs in Profile

Following is a brief description of the programs that were profiled in this report. A more complete description of their programs and services, and some program success stories, is available in the full report.

ACCION New York (http://www.accionnewyork.org) ACCION International is a worldwide organization whose mission is to give people the tools they need to work their way out of poverty. Founded in 1991, ACCION New York has grown to become one of the largest microlending and business training programs in the country. In the past decade it has made over 3,840 loans totaling $16.8 million. The program’s staff consists of approximately 12 directors, loan officers and VISTA volunteers who help publicize the center and coordinate the variety of services and organizations involved in small business training, loan management and financial planning.

The Coleman Foundation

(http://www.colemanfoundation.org) The Coleman Foundation, founded in 1951 in Illinois, has long supported entrepreneurial efforts by women and minorities to establish their own companies. The Foundation has provided support in a number of venues, including entrepreneurial education and awareness for the past 20 years. Their mission focuses on a commitment to the principles of self-determination, self-respect, and individual initiative. Since 1981, the Coleman Foundation has granted over $24 million to support educational and community programs promoting entrepreneurship awareness.

Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship

(http://www .rhsmith.umd.edu/dingman) The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship is located in the School of Business at the University of Maryland at College Park. The Center offers a variety of training and referral resources, including assistance with business plan development, mentoring on all aspects of small business operations, and loan applications. The Center also offers opportunities to meet area venture capitalists.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

(http://www.emkf.org) The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a nationally focused non-profit foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri. It provides assistance, training, and support to women business owners through its various programs, research and educational initiatives. The Foundation’s activities reflect a wide breadth and depth of expertise with the goal of helping individuals start and grow their businesses. The Foundation’s support is organized into six primary areas, including entrepreneurship training for youth, college students, and adults, as well as support for social entrepreneurship, policy and research. The area of adult entrepreneurship offers a vast number of web-based sites to help women business owners decide which training is most appropriate. The Institute for Social and Economic Development (http://www.ised.org) The Institute for Social and Economic Development is a non-profit organization providing services to assist primarily disenfranchised persons to enter the economic mainstream and create a solid economic future for themselves and others. It is located in Coralville, Iowa, with five other offices in the state. ISED’s primary mission is to help low-income individuals and disadvantaged communities improve their employment and acquire assets to escape poverty. ISED is staffed by 14 professionals with backgrounds in finance, business and marketing.

Minnesota Women’s Business Center

(http://www.mnwbc.org) The Minnesota Women’s Business Center was founded in 2000 and is supported by a 5-year sustainability grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Managed by two women with entrepreneurial experience and backgrounds, the center is located in northwestern Minnesota. It offers business training and mentoring for women who are exploring the option of starting their own business.

The Wachovia Corporation (http://www.wachovia.com) The Wachovia Corporation is committed to loan $5 billion to women-owned businesses over the next ten years. The corporation currently has one full-time staff member who oversees the program from Wachovia’s headquarters in North Carolina and coordinates with Wachovia staff on the East Coast. The program offers resources for women- owned businesses to learn the steps needed to start and maintain a business, and offers assistance for women- owned businesses to obtain funding, including SBA loans, in addition to the Wachovia funds.

Women’s Business Center of Northern Virginia (http://www.wbcnova.org) The Women’s Business Center of Northern Virginia is staffed by two women with managerial and corporate experience. The Center offers technical assistance, one-on-one business counseling, and assistance with loan applications.

Women’s Growth Capital Fund (http://www.womensgrowthcapital.com) The Women’s Growth Capital Fund was founded in 1997 to make equity investments in women-owned businesses in early and expansion stages. With $30 million under management, the Fund – which as been fully subscribed since December 2002 – focuses on companies located on the East Coast. It is one of only three women-focused funds licensed as a Small Business Investment Company by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Methodology

In order to meet the study objectives of identifying existing programs that assist women business owners in gaining access to capital and uncovering common best practices and implications for further program development, a wide variety of programs were reviewed. Information was collected primarily through web-based research, with some telephone follow-up among key program personnel. After uncovering hundreds of programs, nine were selected to represent a variety of the following key program characteristics: program age, sources of funding, range of services offered, number of clients served, and primary financial sector. The information collected during the course of the research focused on organizational descriptive information, types of media used to disseminate program information, services provided, sources of funding, and client activities and outcomes. The research was conducted for the National Women’s Business Council by Synthesis Professional Services, a woman-owned business headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.

The National Women’s Business Council is a bi-partisan Federal government council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. Members of the Council are prominent women business owners and leaders of women’s business organizations. For more information about the Council, its mission and activities, contact: National Women’s Business Council, 409 3rd Street, SW, Suite 210, Washington, DC 20024; phone: 202-205-3850; fax: 202-205-6825; e- mail: nwbc@sba.gov, web site: http://www.nwbc.gov.

ByNWBC Council

An Investigation of Women-Led Firms and Venture Capital Investment

An Investigation of Women-Led Firms and Venture Capital Investment

This study on venture capital funding for women- and minority-led businesses confirms that despite the growth in equity investment, women and minority entrepreneurs still are receiving only a very small share of equity capital. Three possible reasons why such firms may receive less equity investment are: choice of industry, geographic location, and business size.