More women are starting businesses in the US than ever before, with the number of women-owned businesses growing at about 1.5 times the national average. The State of Women-Owned Businesses in the US for 2015 reports:
- The number of women-owned businesses grew by 74 percent between 1997 and 2015.
- Women now own 9.4 million firms, about 30 percent of all businesses in the US.
- Businesses owned by African-American women grew 322 percent since 1997, making them the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country.
- Growth is found in every state and across every industry.
Women entrepreneurs who are just starting out or who are looking for ways to increase business have access to many resources geared toward helping them succeed. Here’s a round-up of eight leadership organizations whose overall mission is to help women succeed as they navigate the waters of entrepreneurship. These organizations offer resources, education and networking opportunities, both online and in person, to help women learn about business, improve their skills and build their professional networks.
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) offers women entrepreneurs a range of resources:
- Professional certification recognized by more than 1,000 American corporations
- MatchMaker series which connects women-owned business owners with purchasing decision makers from corporate and government agencies at twice-yearly national meetings
- Annual national conference and business fair
- Student entrepreneur program that fosters growth for the next generation of women entrepreneurs. The group’s Global Business Initiatives helps women business owners outside the United States through training, certification and access to corporations so they can succeed in the global markets.
The National Association of Women Business Owners, founded in 1975, is a dues-based organization that represents the interests of women entrepreneurs across all industries with more than 7,000 members and 70 chapters in the United States. In addition to networking options and other resources, the group offers:
- Educational opportunities such as the E-Learning Series, which provides access to webinars covering topics ranging from how to use social media effectively to how to finance your supply chain.
- Institute for Entrepreneurial Development, which provides opportunities for capacity building and organizational development for emerging and established women entrepreneurs.
The National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs is a members-based group that aims to “train, empower, and inspire Christian women as they build their entrepreneurial business.” The organization offers many ways to connect with like-minded women of faith, including:
- An annual conference
- Online “success institute” with access to help with marketing, communication and productivity and other areas of business, webinars and live and virtual events.
Ladies Who Launch is a network of more than 100,000 women that works to provide inspiration and advice to women entrepreneurs. Founder Victoria Colligan and her team offer free events, workshops and online advice to help women advance in entrepreneurship and the business world.
The US government’s Small Business Administration (SBA) features this Women-Owned Businesses microsite that provides resources to help women entrepreneurs launch and grow new businesses and compete in the global marketplace. The network of Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) is another resource from the SBA, a national group of more than 100 educational centers throughout the US. The centers are designed to help women start and grow small businesses. WBCs says it seeks to “level the playing field for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world.”
The eWomen Network is an active online resource that also offers more than 2,000 in-person networking events across the country. The network focuses on helping members acquire more clients and customers; market and promote their goods and services; and gain access to resources, leaders, ideas and opportunities. Resources include:
- Success coaches
- International Conference
- E-profiles to showcase individual businesses
The Black Women Business Owners, Executives and Entrepreneurs (BWBOEE) describes itself as “an evolving organization of established business owners, creative entrepreneurs and women in key decision-making positions with government and major corporations.” The benefits of membership include:
- Access to exclusive local and global networks
- Social and professional events
- Empowerment programs offered through the organization
The Female Entrepreneur Association is an online community built around an active website full of educational content such as their 10-minute Master Classes, as well as opportunities to connect with women from around the world. Their mission is to inspire and empower women to “turn their ideas into a reality, build successful businesses and live a life they love.”
Are you a woman business owner who has found valuable connections and resources through organizations like these? Share your experiences with us in the comments below. If you’re interested in learning more about Kabbage, visit our business loans for women page.