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Women Business Owners are the Rule, not the Exception

More than 11M woman-owned businesses support nine million jobs & $1.6T in Revenue

BY SBA Regional Administrator Natalia Olson-Urtecho

As we close out October’s National Women’s Small Business Month, I’d like to talk about women in Virginia who exemplify the spirit of entrepreneurship.  In the last several decades, women have made remarkable progress in starting and growing their own businesses in the United States. 

SBA’s Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia, is home to some of the largest concentrations of woman-owned enterprises.  In Washington, D.C. 45.2%, and in Maryland 40.1% of businesses are owned by women relative to men-owned and equally-owned businesses.  What were once considered “traditionally female” careers like healthcare, social services, and education are on top, — jobs for home health aides alone are expected to grow 48 percent by 2022.  With a large concentration of Science and Tech education opportunities in the mid-Atlantic Region, Virginia Beach is poised for significant growth in Science, Technical, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields for women.

President Obama’s “Race to the Top” put a priority on STEM education by rewarding states taking specific steps to ensure all students have opportunities in these fields at an early age, and helped more than 2.3 million more young women afford higher education with increases to Pell grants.  A National Women's Business Council report released in 2014shows women increased representation in STEM; achieving “parity for PhDs in biological and medical sciences” (though enrollment lags in bioengineering, mechanical, civil engineering and materials science). This increase should be an early notice for those of us in the entrepreneurial-support sector that we must prepare to respond to an influx of women STEM entrepreneurs.

SBA and our partners like SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Center and preferred lenders comprise a team of support providers who help businesses like Jeri Prophet, President and CEO of IntellechTechs, Inc. to break through. Over the past year, Prophet won contracts with NASA and the US Agency for International Development. These contracts have contributed to growing the company and helped employ an additional 100 Virginians. Also, the expansion in the commercial sector has helped them increase revenue. With the help from SBA’s resource partners they were able to attend workshops to market themselves and continue growth.  

Supporting women in STEM is not only essential to those women (they earn 33 percent more than in non-STEM occupations); it is part of America’s strategy to out-innovate our competitors.  Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board.

Will your woman-owned small business be the next IntellechTechs, Inc.?  Check us out at www.sba.govand make an appointment with one of our partners to explore the many pathways to your dream.

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