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Building a Women's Enterprise Movement That Will Stand the Test of Time

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An exploration of the history of the women's business movement in the United States, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Women's Business Ownership Act of 1988. Three waves of the movement are discussed: information, formation, and transformation. The presentation ends with four key elements of a sustainable ecosystem and a depiction of what a healthy ecosystem might look like.

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Building a Women's Enterprise Movement That Will Stand the Test of Time

  1. 1. Building a Women’s Enterprise Movement That Will Stand the Test of Time: Lessons From the US Julie R. Weeks President & CEO Womenable
  2. 2. Polly Bemis (born Lalu Nathoy) (1853-1933) From indentured servitude to successful rancher Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816) Newspaper publisher, Printer of the Declaration of Independence Madam CJ Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) (1867-1919) Daughter of slaves, first African-American millionairess
  3. 3. The Three Waves of Women’s Enterprise Development in the US 1. INFORMATION: Dawning Awareness 2. FORMATION: Finding Our Voice 3. TRANSFORMATION: Shaping Our Future Ourselves
  4. 4. Wave II: The Formation of a Women’s Business “Movement” ▲1974: Equal Credit Opportunity Act ▲1975: NAWBO founded ▲1978: President’s Interagency Task Force on Women’s Entrepreneurship ▲1986: White House Conference on Small Business
  5. 5. WBO Act of 1988: The “Big Bang” of Women’s Entrepreneurship H.R 5050
  6. 6. Economic Clout of WOBs Boosted By Expansion of Census 1992 Census % Increase by Including C corps 160 145 140 111 120 100 80 60 40 20 9 0 Number of Firms Employment Source: US Census Bureau Revenues
  7. 7. Women’s Business Center Program Established • Number of WBCs has grown from 4 “demonstration sites” in 1989 to over 100 today • Served 190,000+ clients in FY2012 w/ budget of $14 M • Evaluations show significant ROI, client satisfaction
  8. 8. ECOA Expanded to Include Business Credit • Prior to HR5050 women could not get business credit in their own name • % of WBOs with bank loan or line of credit* • 26% in 1992 • 58% in 1998 • 57% in 2002 *Source: NAWBO membership surveys
  9. 9. WBOs Get Seat at Federal Policy Table Via NWBC • Bi-partisan • 15 members: mixture of individual WBOs and WBO associations • Submits annual report to SBA, Congress, President on state of women’s enterprise, policy recommendations • Research, roundtables, bully pulpit
  10. 10. 1990’s: A Proliferation of Women’s Business Organizations
  11. 11. Wave III: Taking the Future Into Our Own Hands ▲Data, Data, Data ▲Messages Matter: What we say, how we say it ▲Champions ▲Schumpeter at Work: Succession & Spinoffs
  12. 12. Data, Data, Data ▲Highlight gaps ▲Chart progress ▲Bust myths ▲Tell stories
  13. 13. Messages Matter: The Value of Soundbites “Women-owned firms are just as financially sound and creditworthy as the average US firm.” ~ NFWBO, Breaking the Boundaries report, 1995
  14. 14. The Importance of “Champions” ▲Early support: a leap of faith ▲Often ephemeral ▲Pack mentality ▲Symbiosis
  15. 15. Succession & Spin-offs NFWBO CWBR NWBOC BPW NAWBO WIPP BPW Fdn BPW Int’l WLE WBCs AWED From 4 to 110 WPO Now in UK WBENC WE Connect Int’l
  16. 16. Developing a Women’s Enterprise Ecosystem Markets Networks Capital EE&T Legal parity Policies Programmes Fact-based data
  17. 17. Building a Women’s Enterprise Movement That Will Stand the Test of Time: Lessons From the US Julie R. Weeks President & CEO Womenable

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