Up until 1988, women entrepreneurs had the same drive as they do today, but a major obstacle stood in their way- access to loans. Until 1988, many women could not obtain a business loan without a man’s signature. That year, with the signing of the Women’s Business Ownership Act, women were finally guaranteed access to loans without the requirement of a male relative as co-signer.
Although this law was a giant step forward for women entrepreneurs, 30 years later women still lag far behind their male peers in their ability to obtain capital to start a business. Women get about 4% of the total capital loaned to small businesses each year, and furthermore pay higher interest for it.
The SBA’s Office of Women Owned Business is poised to champion women entrepreneurs, but with only $17 million in funding it struggles to support all the women who seek its services. With more funding directed towards its Women’s Business Centers (WBC's), the SBA could reach more geographic areas and provide the type of local support necessary for women’s entrepreneurial success.
And women entrepreneurs aren’t just a good cause, they’re a good investment. Women are the sleeping goddesses of our economy: ready to buy houses, invest in their children’s educations, and circulate their earnings and taxes through local economies. Women’s businesses are sustainable businesses, and organizations like the ASBC support more funding to fuel them.
Banks have a huge opportunity to support, and profit from, the growing women’s entrepreneurial movement. By targeting small women-owned enterprises with loans, and partnering with WBC's, banks can find millions of women ready to grow their businesses. If banks and women’s business organizations join forces, they could urge that Community Reinvestment Act credits be doubled for banks that increase support for WBC's and loans to women.
There are more women entrepreneurs today than ever, and the legal groundwork done in the 1980's means that they can independently navigate their finances. 40% of entrepreneurs are women, leading 11.7 million businesses nationwide, creating 9 million jobs, and earning $1.7 trillion in sales. Channeling their unflagging 80's counterparts, today’s women entrepreneurs are ready to take another step forward to prove that the inordinate success of women-owned businesses can bring a huge return on investment for our country.