Women small business owners face several challenges when operating a business. Main challenges include access to financial capital, human capital and networks. The good news is that there are organizations that support women business owners. Here’s a look at the key issues and how certain organizations, specifically designed for women, help address them.
Access to Financial Capital
Access to financial capital is integral to business owners. It’s necessary to grow revenue and expand businesses. This is especially important for women business owners. Women business owners get almost 50 percent less funding than their male counterparts, according to CNBC. And unfortunately, access to financial capital for women has declined over time.
However, there are resources for women to help fund their businesses. For instance, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has loan programs that directly target women and minority owned businesses as well as a division dedicated to women called the Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO). The OWBO program provides business training, counseling, federal contracts, and access to credit and capital.
The OWBO also oversees Women’s Business Centers (WBCs). There are over 100 WBCs across the country providing women support to overcome obstacles to business success. The Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) is a national non-profit (501c3) organization, and represents WBC’s and women business owners. WBCs offer counseling, training and mentoring on a variety of business topics. They also offer assistance with accessing microloans, traditional loans and SBA loans.
Access to Human Capital
Access to human capital or training for women small business owners to learn new skills is also difficult to obtain. However, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), which represents over 10 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., provides a member-exclusive NAWBO Institute Virtual Platform. This helps facilitate communication, virtual networking, best practice sharing and education for women business owners.
NAWBO has also teamed with ADP, a global provider of cloud-based Human Capital Management solutions, in order to continue to offer human resources, payroll, talent, time, tax and benefits administration. This helps women-owned businesses reach their potential.
Access to Networks
Having the access to networks is an important factor for small business success. A proper network should not only include personal support, but also support from outside resources. Encouragement and networking opportunities for small businesses can be from peer groups, mastermind groups and mentors, as well as other small businesses and strategic partnerships. However, access to networking is often a challenge for women-led businesses. Thankfully, though, there are resources.
For example, the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) is the nation’s largest association that helps support women business owners. NAFE offers a platform for women to create a network with other women executives, professionals and small business owners that are dedicated in supporting women in business. Additionally, women can learn about attending local events to expand their networks even further.
Overall, with the right resources, women small business owners can tackle common obstacles and make their businesses thrive.