A group of diverse businesswomen networking
For our network,

Women’s History is
Economic Growth

Browse some of the oldest businesses that have shaped our local economies into the economic powerhouses they are today

Women’s History Month gives us an opportunity to recognize how far we’ve come, and harness lessons from the past to build momentum for the future. In the last few decades that WBEC NY and DMV have been supporting women-owned businesses in New York and the DMV region, we have seen significant growth. Since 2000, the DMV region saw a 58% increase, and the New York region has seen a 71% increase in the number of women-owned businesses. By supporting the government and corporate effort to diversify supply chains and deliver resources to build successful partnerships with women-owned businesses, WBEC NY and DMV have been a critical part of the history of these thriving economies.

The strong statistics illustrate the success of women’s entrepreneurship in the region. But for many, it is the spirit of optimism and camaraderie of connections that share values that has shaped the history of our network’s success and the success of women-owned businesses in global economic powerhouses of New York and the DMV.

As the long-standing head of the organization and a figure central to its growth, CEO and President Sandra Eberhard says that in her experience meeting, talking with, and supporting women entrepreneurs in the region, one of the most poignant misnomers she encounters is that women are risk-averse.

“Women are strong, resilient, agile, faith-filled, and at times downright stubborn when they know the direction they are heading is best,” Eberhard says. “Women are resourceful and unafraid to step into unknown territory to meet the needs of community, family and business. They are unafraid to tackle the big issues. Women are innovative in thought and action when solving issues as they face them head on. This problem-solving strength has led many women to be on the cutting edge of solutions needed by the corporate and public supply chain.”

The spirit of the women in the WBEC NY and DMV network is evidenced by the long-standing success of their businesses. This Women’s History Month, we are proud to elevate the businesses in our network that were established before some women were allowed the right to own property (1850), open a bank account (1960), start a business without male consent (1988), and before the WBEC NY and DMV network was formed (1999).

Equal opportunity laws and the way that business is conducted has undergone consistent evolutions since that time, and yet gender discrimination in many socio-economic arenas diminishes the ability for many to access resources to start and become a high-growth company.

“To open a business takes financial, social and human capital,” Eberhard says, and points to the need for institutions to be willing to finance women-owned businesses at the same rate they finance male owned businesses, and for like-minded community support to surround the women entrepreneurs. Research shows that only a small fraction of venture capital funding goes to women-owned businesses, and female entrepreneurs often face bias and discrimination from investors. Female entrepreneurs often receive less funding than their male counterparts, even when controlling for factors such as company size and industry. Additionally, women entrepreneurs often have less access to networks and resources that can help them secure funding, such as mentorship and introductions to investors. WBEC NY and DMV solves for that by delivering resources needed for success: business content for capacity building; community development for like minded attitudes, values, goals and role models; and connections to growth opportunities, the essential ingredient for success and wealth creation.

Our socio-economic culture continues to evolve: in recent years, women in America have been changing jobs, demanding more from their companies, and starting businesses at higher rates than men increasingly. Women in and outside of our network are increasingly taking the reins amid economic and industry uncertainty—and we’re succeeding. Revenues, confidence and anticipated expansions are up. At the same time, stakeholders have much larger say in how they procure goods and services, workforces demand flexibility, and technological advances are inciting new ideas and solutions. Continuing with our mission to help fuel the local economy through women-owned businesses, this year we’re focusing on helping women business owners adapt and optimize in this environment of uncertainty so they can meet their goals and have a positive impact in this new and hopeful economy.

Women’s History Month gives us an opportunity to recognize how far we’ve come, and harness lessons from the past to build momentum for the future.

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