October 16, 2022 By Suzanne Robertson

October is National Women's Small Business Month, which is a time to recognize and celebrate the creative female entrepreneurs who have started a small business despite the obstacles.

To truly understand how far we’ve come, we should take a look back at the history of women in business. In 1972, women only owned 4.6% of all businesses in the United States, and they didn’t have the same banking opportunities as men did.

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Thankfully, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 allowed women to apply for personal and home loans without a male cosigner for the first time. It wasn't until 1988, almost 15 years later, that women could take out business loans without a male cosigner.

As of 2019, there are 13 million woman-owned businesses in the United States, accounting for revenues of $1.8 Trillion. And, in 2021, according to the World Economic Forum, 49% of all businesses started in the U.S. were launched by women. These are, undoubtedly, staggering achievements.

Fast facts about women-owned businesses

Numbers don’t lie – women-owned businesses in the U.S. have a significant impact on the overall economy. These statistics from the Ascent blog summarize impressive facts:

  • Women-owned businesses employ nearly 9.4 million people
  • 1,817 new women-owned businesses start up every day
  • Women own 42% of all companies in the U.S.
  • 50%of all women-owned businesses are also minority-owned
  • Minority-owned businesses generate 23% of all women-owned business revenue

Women and business lending

The SmartBiz® team is committed to fair funding. In 2022 so far, almost 40% of loans facilitated by  SmartBiz went to women business owners. These entrepreneurs strengthened their businesses by using SBA loans, term loans, or custom financing to hire employees, for marketing, as working capital, to refinance debt, and more.

Here’s a snapshot of the overall lending landscape for women.

  • Women are less likely to receive business credit than men (American Banker®, 2022)
  • Women are more likely to receive a smaller, shorter-term loan with significantly higher interest rates (American Banker, 2022)
  • The percentage of business loan applications from women-owned firms decreased by 2% in 2020, compared to 2019 (Forbes®, 2022)
  • In 2021, 33% of all loan applications came from women-owned businesses. (Biz2Credit®)
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How to support businesses owned by women

As the 2022 holiday season approaches, it’s a great time to show your support for women-owned businesses. Here are a few ways:

  • Shop at woman-owned small businesses in your community and online. You’ll be helping a female entrepreneur and supporting economic growth. You can find women-owned businesses by searching the Yelp® “women owned” tag, connecting with women-owned business associations, and searching on social media platforms.
  • Get vocal! Promote women-owned businesses on your own social media channels and let your friends and family know about your purchases.
  • Blogger Rhonda Abrams shares how you can support women all year: “Support politicians and companies that support women. Women need confidence, but they also need childcare, maternity leave, good pay, good health care, non-discrimination laws. Help women gain the skills and earn the successes by supporting and voting for those who support policies and programs that enable women to succeed.”
  • Follow the hashtag #NWSBM on Twitter® and Instagram® to discover who is sharing valuable information about this month and how you can contribute.

Women-owned business success stories

Below are business success stories that highlight a few of the smart, creative, and hard-working women who were able to secure funding through SmartBiz:


Off-Road Vixens®

We interviewed one of the founders of Off-Road Vixens® co-owned by Shari Bisquera and Carey Kiehn. Off-Road Vixens® offers infant, youth, and adult clothing, appealing to all generations of females. The featured clothing changes with current styles and stays in line with the founders’ passions to provide the best possible products.

They launched with the slogan “Girls Get Dirty Too!” Carey says, “It resonates with people. Our brand represents both females participating in racing as well as the weekend warriors.” The pair has now been in business 10 years.


Done & Done, Home LLC®

You know those people that are not only completely organized but they enjoy the organization process? Mother/daughter team Katharine Pawlowski and Ann Lightfoot have taken their talent and love for organization and turned it into a successful small business in New York.


Enyermy Hair Solution, LLC®

SmartBiz worked with Enyermy Dominguez, a successful beauty entrepreneur, who recently launched an upscale line of hair care solutions. Her products quickly became popular, and she needed additional capital to keep up with demand. Learn how Dominguez is expanding her business with proceeds from a term loan funded by a bank in the SmartBiz network.

Resources for women business owners

The SmartBiz Blog has a variety of resources for female business owners, whether they’ve been in business several years or are just starting out. SBA Loans for Women-Owned Businesses has information regarding popular loan programs to help fund all types of ventures. SBA loans generally have low rates and long terms and are often a good option to grow your business.

Another resource to help grow a business is to receive a women-owned business designation used by American government agencies and industry associations to set aside programs to encourage and empower female business owners. Learn more here: Women-Owned Business Certification.

Keep an eye on the calendar for more opportunities to learn about the accomplishments of women and celebrate their success. March 8 is International Women’s Day. Women’s History Month is celebrated the entire month of March, and Women’s Equality Day is held on August 26, the day the 19th Amendment was ratified.

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