March is Women’s History Month and to celebrate we would like to look at how far women have come in entrepreneurship and what more can be done in the near future.
SBA Administrator, Karen Mills recently cited, in a posting she wrote on the Small Business Administration website, an American Express analysis concluding that over the past year 200,000 women-owned business have opened up. That’s amazing considering less than 25 years ago women couldn’t take out a loan without a male cosigner, or even 95 years ago couldn’t vote. There’s no doubt we’ve come a long way, but there is still much more to be done to achieve equality.
Here at Accion, we continually observe that when it comes to starting a business, women are still at a disadvantage in this country. Women face huge obstacles when it comes to securing capital. Due to “traditional” cultural roles, quite often females seeking a loan have little-to-no credit history. It was their husbands who opened the bank account, had the credit cards in their name, and “managed” the finances of the household. Women may have a more limited employment history, as many have chosen to remain home raising their children.
Not only does Accion aim to make capital more accessible to women, we offer programs such as financial education events, to provide specialty training geared to female entrepreneurs. Moreover, interestingly enough, the majority of our loan consultants are women.
Ultimately, the best step we, as a community, can take to achieve equality and inclusion is to help women succeed in starting, running and expanding their businesses. It is necessary that this discussion continues to take place throughout the entire year, not only in the month of March, to help our communities understand that as far as we have come, there is still a long way to go before women have equal access to opportunity
Throughout the entire month of March we would like to honor female entrepreneurs, past and present, who have inspired us, by sharing their stories.