A key message from last week’s election is that people are seeking more economic opportunity. And with today marking National Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, there’s no better place to start than by solving the problems facing women business owners.
Women-owned firms make up more than a third of all businesses in the country, generate more than $1.6 trillion in revenues and employ 8.9 million people. More importantly, they're growing faster in number and employment numbers than most other categories.
The American Express 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses report found that between 1997 and 2015, a period when the number of businesses in the country increased by 51 percent, the number of women-owned firms increased by 74 percent.
And yet, these businesses still face inequality at every turn. Only 4 percent of all commercial loan dollars go to women. They receive only 5 percent of all government contracts and they are shut out of some of the government’s most lucrative ones. Only 3 percent of all venture capital, for instance, goes to women-run companies.
President-elect Trump has said that a primary focus of his presidency will be the economy. If he’s serious about giving the economy a boost, he should start by focusing on policies that will help women entrepreneurs.
Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) has identified the following 10 points that President-elect Trump needs to know about women business owners to help them thrive:
1. Women entrepreneurs are an economic powerhouse to be reckoned with.
Making up more than a third of all businesses, women-owned firms are growing at four times the rate of men-owned firms and contribute $1.6 trillion to the American economy. This growth not only survived the Great Recession, but has propelled recovery in communities nationwide.
2. Women business owners are not getting the capital they need.
The cumulative regulatory burden on community banks -- a traditional source of capital for women entrepreneurs -- has increased costs and made it difficult for these institutions to rationalize smaller loans. The unmet needs of women entrepreneurs total billions of dollars each year.
3. Healthcare costs continue to rise for employers.
Congress and the administration should fix Health Reimbursement Accounts, a valuable tool for small businesses (most women in business are small business owners).
4. Despite significant barriers, women-owned firms compete for and win government contracts. . .
. . . but women are being shut out of some of the government’s most lucrative contracts. Parity in federal procurement opportunities is essential for women-owned businesses.
5. Women businesses are a strong investment, yet only 3 percent of all venture capital goes to companies run by women.
The limited number of women fund managers is a factor. A study from the Diana Project found that, “Venture capital firms with women partners are three times more likely to invest in companies with women CEOs.” The Trump administration can use tools, including the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program.
The SBIC, managed by the Small Business Administration, facilitates the flow of long-term capital to small businesses. SBIC is a good program to encourage more women to become fund managers -- and to ensure more women fund managers have the experience needed.
6. Some 95 percent of consumers live outside the United States; women’s business growth must be fueled by access to international markets.
Intellectual property protection is key here. Our government must continue its efforts to strengthen intellectual property rights and protections at home and abroad to encourage more entrepreneurship and the global expansion of women-owned firms.
7. The burden of regulation can be crushing.
We need a regulatory system that is inclusive, transparent and flexible.
8. Women business owners are important consumers of technology and incredible innovators driving technological advancement.
We must not stifle innovation by moving away from the light-touch regulation that has enabled the broadband internet and technology sector to flourish. Doing so would mean less investment and access to the technologies and platforms that help women business owners compete and succeed.
9. Women business owners are unique, yet they're woefully underrepresented within the regulatory environment.
Women entrepreneurs need a seat at the table at the SEC, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other key institutions.
10. Women business owners seek certainty, simplicity and fairness from the American tax system.
The outdated tax code restricts the plans of women business owners and potential growth of their firms.
10. Investing in women business owners is an investment in the American economy.
We encourage women in business to reach out to their representatives to ensure they're hearing loud and clear that women entrepreneurs need a level playing field to thrive. And we encourage women business owners of all stripes to join WIPP (and follow us at #ChooseWomen) and help us advocate for these policies.
There's never been a more important time to come together and support the women who create the good jobs that power our economy.
We’re willing to work with Congress and the new administration to help women business owners succeed, because like those who come together to create Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we believe that by celebrating, empowering and supporting women in business, we support our economy and our way of life.
It’s time to get to work.