MADE Maven October Issue MADE Magazine - Page 54

MADEUS Where there are no chairs at the table, women must create their own seats. SEE ME, I SEE GREATER Like Ciara, other women are leveling up by creating and owning their own businesses. More than 11 million U.S. firms are now owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people and generating $1.7 trillion in sales, according to data reported by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). NAWBO reported that 5.4 million firms are majority-owned by women of color in the U.S., and those firms employ 2.1 million people and generate $361 billion in revenues annually. Women-owned businesses are bringing home the bacon, but they’re still doing more with less. Forbes recently reported in an article that, “a 2018 survey from graphic design company 99designs of more than 3,000 men and women entrepreneurs worldwide uncovered the surprising number of challenges women entrepreneurs face. According to the study, surveyed male entrepreneurs were twice as likely to raise $100,000 or more of outside funding for their startups than female entrepreneurs.” The article goes on to report, “Further, a recent study by Guidant Financial shows business loan approval rates for women are 15-20 percent lower than they are for men. The top funding method for women entrepreneurs remains an SBA loan, which, while useful, may not yield a huge influx of start-up capital.” It would seem sisters could do it for themselves by becoming the venture capitalists that invest in women-owned businesses. But, the data there is disheartening too. According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, “Over the past several years, the U.S. has seen an increase in the number of female venture capitalists (from 3 percent of all VCs in 2014 to an estimated 7 percent today), but the funding gap has only widened.” The article goes on to show, “Female entrepreneurs receive only about 2 percent of all venture funding, despite owning 38 percent of the businesses in the country.” Arguments for gender-blind financing, increased diversity training, and improved government loan programs could and have all been made for leveling the playing field for women. The challenge is turning the arguments into actions. THE FUTURE IS STILL FEMALE In September, the video game streaming service Twitch announced its C-suite team was majority women. A rare and groundbreaking moment for women, especially women in tech. Such moments give hope to women that there are people in places and policies in motion just for us.To name a couple, there is the Paycheck Fairness Act and the 100x25 Advocacy Initiative. The Paycheck Fairness Act is before Congress and if put in motion would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages and prohibit screening of job applicants based on their salary histories. The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100×25 initiative aims get more women to the C-suite. The goal is to have have 100 Fortune 500 women CEOs by 2025. Sisters, and brothers, the path ahead may not always be illuminated. But, hold on to hope that it is indeed bright. Continue to arm yourself with information and engage yourself in the fight for equality. | 54