National Women’s Business Council Celebrates Women’s History Month And Issues Roundtable Report
WASHINGTON, D.C. – (March 11, 2020) – In celebration of Women’s History Month, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) releases its new 2019 Women in Small Business Roundtable Series Report.
In March of 2019, the Council launched its signature Women in Small Business Roundtable Series across the country to convene women business owners and entrepreneurs and connect their voices to policymakers in Washington, D.C. NWBC traveled to states in which Council Members live and grow their businesses and tapped into their local networks of female founders, entrepreneurs, and ecosystem stakeholders for direct input on remaining barriers to women’s business enterprise.
Each Roundtable discussion focused on one of the Council’s three main policy priorities: Access to Capital & Opportunity, Women in STEM, and Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship. The feedback received served as the foundation for the Council’s FY19 policy recommendations and FY20 priorities. Recurring themes across all roundtables included a lack of financial literacy, a shortage of funding opportunities for female founders, and a gap in effective resources and mentorship.
“The Council hopes that public officials will consider the stories presented in this report as they work to shape the economic environment for our nation’s women entrepreneurs. At this important juncture in women’s history in business, the NWBC is committed to leading the way for the rising number of female business owners and developers,” said Nina Roque, NWBC Executive Director.
The Austin, TX Roundtable, which focused on access to capital, found that most participants felt that women enter a Venture Capital (VC) pitch room with a higher burden of proof than men. Several participants in the Los Angeles, CA Roundtable asserted that the funding gap for women entrepreneurs would never change until more women joined the pool of investors. Many participants in the women in STEM Baltimore, MD and St. Petersburg, FL roundtables found the need for mentorship was great, since men are roughly twice as likely to be self-employed in STEM fields relative to women.
In the Pella, IA and Nampa, ID Roundtables, multiple women said they were compelled to take ownership of their rural business to fulfill the generational transfer of a family venture or continue operations after the sudden death of a spouse.
Their stories underscored the importance of succession planning in rural communities, especially as younger generations often have a greater economic incentive to leave their hometowns and pursue both a degree and career in outside urban hubs rather than take over a family business. Necessity entrepreneurship—starting a business to supplement income or gain the flexibility to attend to other demands in one’s life—is a common thread for women business owners and an underlying reason for a shortage of high-growth firms among this demographic.
These Roundtable discussions served as the foundation for the Council’s FY19 policy recommendations as reflected in its Annual Report submitted to the President, Congress, and the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration on December 20, 2019. The feedback and input received also informed the Council’s FY20 policy priorities. The recurring themes across all Roundtables—including financial literacy and improved access to resources for women in STEM and in rural communities—will serve as the Council’s focus areas for 2020.
The Council plans to continue this successful endeavor in 2020 to further engage women founders across the country. The initiative has been rebranded as the #LetsTalkBusiness Roundtable Series. Confirmed stops include San Juan, PR; Houston, TX; Gilsum, NH; Grand Rapids, MI; and more. The Council’s 2019 Roundtables laid the groundwork for the upcoming FY20 Roundtables, which will follow the same model.