The female presence in the workforce and in business development is growing with each day, but not without the support of their surrounding community.
In 1998, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) helped to pass The Women’s Business Ownership Act, which prevented financial lenders from discriminating against female business owners when applying for loans. According to a nationwide American Express study, female entrepreneurship grew by 114 percent between 1997 and 2017. Women-owned businesses employ nearly 9 million people as of 2017, generating approximately $1.7 trillion in revenue.
Although these numbers are encouraging, female-owned businesses still require an immense amount of support to sustain and thrive in this competitive business climate. Cindy Gordon, member of the leadership team for ATHENA Valley of the Sun and founder of Business Rescue Coaching, expressed where she is seeing this support for women in business in the state.
“Arizona has an abundance of organizations and businesses that provide support for women business owners – at all stages of growth,” Gordon said. “There are free resources such as Arizona Women’s Education and Employment (AWEE) and Small Business Development Council (SBDC), which offer educational programs and counseling. For a more individualized level of guidance, women can find workshops and coaching programs offered by companies, like mine, owned by seasoned business leaders.”
Gordon continued to explain why female leaders are a vital asset in the community. “Women are role models for younger generations. We function at a very high level, building businesses, raising children and giving back to our communities.”
Female co-working spaces such as Hera Hub Phoenix are gaining traction all across the country, and in Arizona, as they offer women the opportunity to have an office where they can hold meetings and events, but not at a stifling expense. Shatha Barbour, the founder and owner of Hera Hub Phoenix, expressed why it is important to encourage and aid women in their business pursuits.
“If we just reach 50/50 representation, women business owners will add 80,000 jobs to the local economy,“ Barbour said. “Women run a wide variety of businesses, in many different industries. When these businesses succeed, you’ll see a ripple effect in the entire state including positive impact on the education system, economic and financial system, and community enhancement for cities.”
A unique component of female-owned businesses is that “they provide services and products that are many times overlooked in the marketplace. They also provide input to create better services and products that resonate with the female demographic,” explained Barbour.
A venue where women can share their services and products is the Mom Made Market, which gives mothers in business the chance to present their unique craft through a supportive and well-established platform. In February, Arizona hosted the nationwide traveling market, which gave over 150 local mom-made vendors the chance to share their business with the community. Currently, the market also travels to Hawaii, San Diego, Portland, and Orange County and will continue expanding their reach as they take applications for future market locations.