Entrepreneurship provides a strong path for women when it comes to achieving economic security for themselves and their families. New York City has been a key leader in creating entrepreneurship opportunities for women including allocating funds towards worker cooperative business development, establishing accountability measures for contracting with minority and women-owned businesses (M/BWEs), and launching the Women Entrepreneurs NYC initiative (WE NYC). WE NYC’s new report, Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs in New York City, states that New York City leads the nation in the number of women entrepreneurs, employing over 190,000 people and generating $50 billion in sales annually. Additionally, since 2002, the number of women entrepreneurs has increased 43%. Despite this tremendous growth, women, particularly low-income women, still face great barriers when accessing the resources necessary to succeed as entrepreneurs.
This new report outlines the challenges facing women entrepreneurs and how WE NYC seeks to support women in navigating these obstacles. These barriers include accessing funds, reaching customers, hiring ability and practices, and a lack of mentors and business advisors. The report’s recommendations fall into 4 categories: funding, mentorship and networking, skill development, and information and infrastructure. The recommendations, which lay the foundation for WE NYC’s programs, include: facilitate access to affordable loans, connect women with credit-building services, offer financial training and education, create a structured mentorship program, and create programs that focus on leadership and management skills.
As part of The New York Women’s Foundation’s continued commitment to supporting local solutions to complex challenges in disadvantaged communities, we work with a number of organizations that support women in their entrepreneurial endeavors. The unique approaches and impact of three of our grantee partners are highlight in this report: Grameen America, Hot Bread Kitchen, and Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco).
Key investments in programs like these can have a catalytic impact for low-income women and families in communities across the country. In 2013, The New York Women’s Foundation’s support of women-led small businesses in low-income communities had a 9x return on investment.
For more information on NYWF’s work and the work of our grantee partners, see the resources below:
Women’s Entrepreneurship: Challenges & Opportunities
City Council Will Fund New Worker Cooperative Initiative
Hot Bread Kitchen
Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco)