Women in Entrepreneurship

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Last week, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Goldman Sachs Group held a joint press conference to announce two exciting developments for women entrepreneurs in Atlanta. First, Atlanta is launching the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI), a business incubator for women. Secondly, the Goldman Sachs Group is awarding $3 million through its 10,000 Small Businesses program to Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, a Georgia-based nonprofit group. Both announcements have the potential to stimulate tremendous growth in the metro Atlanta area, illustrating the power of entrepreneurship and government partnerships. “It’s exciting to be part of a community where both the city leadership and business folks are all so supportive of creating an entrepreneurial environment and taking seriously the one entrepreneur at a time approach that it really takes for job creation,” said David Fox of the Atlanta office of Goldman Sachs.

About the Incubator

The city and the business community have pulled together to create this opportunity. The WEI incubator will be located in the historic Flatiron building in downtown Atlanta. Arun Nijhawan, a businessman with Lucror Resources, purchased the building last year with the goal of turning it into a collaborative place for “makers, thinkers and doers.”

Women selected to participate will be able to take advantage of the free office space for 15 months. WEI hopes to provide an atmosphere where a network of seasoned mentors, consultants, entrepreneurs and some of Atlanta’s prominent female executives can come together to help “incubate” these businesses. At the end of the 15 months, the women-owned companies will be prepared to transition into the Atlanta business community. Other resources available at the WEI include assistance with business plans, marketing and branding, strategic development, financial education, legal advice, funding opportunities and creating growth and progress metrics. In addition to being an incubator for existing business owners, the WEI will serve as a community outreach program, providing educational workshops and mentorship opportunities to emerging entrepreneurs.

Who Can Apply?

Only 15 women will be selected through a competitive process. Candidates must be a woman business owner that resides or is licensed to do business in Atlanta. Additionally, the business must have been in operation for at least two years, have a total profit of at least $30,000 and employ one to five persons. After applications have been submitted, applicants will participate in a pitch competition before the selection panel.

Travisluther.com provides resources about entrepreneurships and incubators around the country. Contact us to learn more.

According to data collected by Expert Market, female entrepreneurship in the U.S. has been growing steadily over the last 20 years, increasing from 4.1 million female owned firms in 1997 to 9.1 million female owned firms in 2014. While the District of Columbia and Maryland are the states with the top two (respectively) highest percentages of female owned firms, southern states have seen the largest gains in female entrepreneurship over the span of the analysis – benefitting from record numbers of female owned businesses.

Southern States Benefit from Biggest Increase

Southern states occupied four of the top five states that saw the biggest increases in women-owned firms. Georgia took the lead, seeing a 117.9 percent increase, followed by a 98 percent leap in Texas. North Carolina, Nevada and Mississippi filled in the last three spots. Notably, the southern states of Florida and Alabama made top 10 appearances. Additionally, Georgia ranked No. 5 overall for the total number of women-owned businesses by state. Click here to see how all the states measured up.

Women Owned Businesses Generating Serious Revenue

Women entrepreneurs aren’t just launching businesses. They are bringing in serious revenue. These women owned firms have brought in $1.4 trillion so far in 2014, compared to $819 billion in 1997. Interestingly, the number of employees has not increased by much, staying around seven million, indicating that revenue is being generated mostly by small businesses finding ways to increase efficiency and profitability.

Entrepreneurial Drivers

What’s driving this growth in women-owned businesses in the South? First, many southern states like Georgia have an abundance of programs and nonprofit organizations aimed at supporting female entrepreneurs. Second, the cost of living is lower in many southern states – reducing the opportunity cost of starting a new business. And third, Taxes. States like Florida and Texas have no state income tax, relieving some of the financial burden associated with starting a new business.

Experts also point to generational changes as a possible reason for the surge in women entrepreneurs. The emergence of crowdfunding has made access to capital easier. Whereas college graduates used to look for secure employment within large corporations, more of today’s graduates are exploring entrepreneurship as a real way to make ends meet.