Looking back at the record economic growth the US was experiencing prior to COVID, one group in particular played an outsize role: women entrepreneurs. According to the 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 21% between 2014 and 2019, compared to an increase of only 9% for all businesses. That growth was even higher for businesses owned by women of color, which grew at a rate of 43%. Employment by women-owned businesses rose 8% in that same period, compared to just 1.8% for all businesses.
It seems obvious that, at a time when we need to catalyze economic revival across the country, we should be investing in women-owned businesses and their capacity to drive growth. But the reality is that women entrepreneurs still face significant barriers to success. Women-owned businesses represent only 2.8% of all venture capital investments in the US, and, even outside of the VC world, the average loan for women business owners is $5,000 less than for their male counterparts.
RMMFI’s goal is to unleash potential where it’s been overlooked or disregarded, and we’re proud that approximately 60% of the entrepreneurs we serve are women. 11 of our 18 current boot camp participants are women, as are 7 of the 10 business owners that participated in our recent Pivot Accelerator Program. Their businesses represent diverse sectors of the economy, including food and catering, retail, salons, art, landscaping, health and wellness, and insurance.
Fanta Dansoko is one of the women entrepreneurs in our current Aurora cohort of Business Launch Boot Camp, and she embodies the resilience, innovation, and purpose that put entrepreneurs at the leading edge of economic growth. Fanta is starting her online toy store, 4MyChild, because she recognized a gap in the quality of toys that lower income families are able to afford. She has persevered on her journey to business ownership through language barriers, family loss, and discrimination – her decision to sell online came after a landlord illegally evicted her from her commercial space. Fanta came to RMMFI to rebuild her business after facing personal setbacks; she and the many other women entrepreneurs we support are simultaneously rebuilding our economy.