New York City is diverse, but did you know that more than 62 percent (163,000) of the 262,000 new private companies formed in the city between 2002 and 2012 are women-owned? And while the number of women-owned firms in New York City grew by 65 percent between 2002 and 2012, women added more than 56,000 jobs to the city's economy during that period and generated nearly $3 billion in wages.
All of these stats come from the new Center for an Urban Future's Breaking Through report made possible through Capital One's Future Edge initiative--a $150 million, five-year effort to help more American workers and entrepreneurs succeed in the 21st century economy. Through Future Edge, Capital One works with hundreds of leading community and nonprofit organizations in New York City and beyond, including micro-finance and micro-lending organizations empowering women entrepreneurs such as the Grameen America, Accion, and the Business Outreach Center Network.
Highlights: The impact of women-owned businesses.
Overall in 2012, women-owned businesses in New York City:
- Generated $53 billion in revenue (up 25 percent over 2007), and
- Employed nearly 273,000 people (36 percent more than in 2007).
- Accounted for 57 percent of all women-owned businesses in New York State, which is much higher than the city's overall share of the state's businesses and population.
And New Yorkers certainly have a lot to brag about - compared with other major cities around the country, the Big Apple has the most women-owned businesses by far (413,899), with more than double the next nearest competitor - Los Angeles (192,358). And women are launching businesses as varied as cupcakes and construction. That said, the report suggests the city still has a long way to go before women-owned businesses are really number one:
- New York City ranks 19th among the 25 most populous cities in the growth of women-owned firms between 2007 and 2012, and
- 18th in average sales and seventh in the average number of people they employ.
- The average women-owned business in New York City has sales of $128,268, much lower than female-owned firms in Dallas ($198,599), Houston ($181,122), San Francisco ($175,766), Boston ($169,020), Seattle ($162,948), Washington, DC ($162,495), and Los Angeles ($142,378).
While it's clear there's still progress to be made, the ideas, talent and commitment of these women are transforming communities for the better
Many women interviewed for the report stated that women entrepreneurs are more likely than men to start and grow businesses that have a social impact.
For example, Deepti Sharma Kapur runs the online platform, FoodtoEat.com that allows Manhattan office workers to pre-order from a network of restaurants, food trucks and food carts. Although originally created to give these office workers a quick food-ordering system, Deepti helps her vendors, many of them immigrants, use technology to expand their businesses along the way. Deepti attributes her business's growth to prioritizing her community first, and making money second.
Another social entrepreneur is Deborah Koenigsberg, owner of upscale Flatiron boutique Noir et Blanc. Like Deepti, Deborah had a strong desire to use her business skills to benefit her community. So she founded Hearts of Gold, a non-profit organization fostering sustainable change for homeless mothers and their children. To bring this mission to life, Deborah launched the thrifty Hog, a resale boutique where struggling women receive job training and empowerment, and where all proceeds benefit homeless mothers and children.
As with most entrepreneurs, the motivations for women starting their own venture or business vary. Many, like Deepti and Deborah, are looking to make a difference. Others are looking to supplement household incomes, or are seeking alternatives to dead-end, low-wage jobs. For still others, starting a business is a way to monetize a passion and an economic opportunity to both take control of their lives and do something they love.
Here are my five suggestions inspired by the report, for women who are thinking about launching their own business and wanting to have an impact in their community:
It's OK to start small in the pursuit of your dreams
"I started little by little. Every time I make a little money, I add to the salon to make customers feel comfortable. Now I'm trying to complete the salon the way it should be."--Alimata Zabsonre, founder of Alima's Hairbraiding. After arriving in the United States in 2002, Alimata worked at other salons for a couple of years before she realized she could open her own business, Alima's Hairbraiding. But even then she continued to juggle two other jobs in order to be able to invest in her salon.
If there is an opportunity, realize a small amount of capital may be all you need to get started. And get creative with ways in which you raise this capital.
Entrepreneur Ana Diaz spent 13 years as an electrician working for other companies before she started her own firm - with just $250 - after Hurricane Sandy.
There are many financing options out there for entrepreneurs who don't quality for traditional loans. Capital One Future Edge partners like Kiva.org and Grameen America specifically help entrepreneurs living at or below the poverty line.
Take advantage of city and community programs before you open your doors for business.
In 2004, Bernadette Lamboy's job with the FDNY was eliminated. Knowing another job would not enable her to spend more time with her son, she instead took seven months of training at WHEDco and opened a family day care business in her home in the Bronx.
Yes, you're going to have to prove yourself--but don't sweat it.
"The truth of the matter is [clients] want to see me pick up a tool and use it. And then I can send the men in." - Ana Diaz, founder of Diaz Electric.
If someone is paying you, you're an entrepreneur.
As the report notes, the number of home-based childcare businesses is on the rise. These businesses are often started informally or as the result of ad hoc arrangements with relatives and neighbors. Part of the transition challenge to a scalable licensed care business is that many of the women operating these businesses don't see themselves as entrepreneurs. "They don't go into it thinking of it as a business, but as a service they want to provide for the community." - Cynthia Pearson, coordinator at the Center for Childcare Initiatives.
Thanks to Capital One for funding the "Breaking Through" study and for inviting me to speak and participate in events around the report. "Breaking Through" is a publication of the Center for an Urban Future made possible through Capital One's Future Edge initiative. Capital One's Future Edge initiative is a $150 million, five-year effort to help more American workers and entrepreneurs succeed in the 21st century economy. Through Future Edge, Capital One works with hundreds of leading community and nonprofit organizations in NYC and beyond, including micro-finance and micro-lending organizations empowering women entrepreneurs such as Grameen America, Accion, and the Business Outreach Center Network. Learn more at www.capitalone.com/investingforgood or join the conversation on Twitter at @YourFutureEdge #StartedByHer.