Early this year, NAWBO-Richmond began assessing proactive ways to support the growing number of women-owned businesses in Virginia and among our NAWBO members. As we reflected on the 40th anniversary of NAWBO and the 2015 conference theme “Inspire the Change,” we decided what better time or way to act than to document change and inspire actions to address the current challenges women business owners face?
(Standing in back) Elizabeth Coffey, Caryn Foster Durham, Deanna Hathaway;(Seated) Carolyn Hawthorne, Erica Emmett, Angie Furbee, Gwen Hurt, Lee Brazzell, Zee Worstell, Michelle Fowler and Beth Bettley
Now 33 years old, NAWBO-Richmond is a distinguished and diversified group of women business owners who recognize and want to extend support for NAWBO-Richmond’s efforts to strengthen women business owners and to improve the women business owner market segment for the betterment of all women-owned businesses. The chapter acted by commissioning a study, entitled “The State of Women-Owned Businesses in Virginia,” to provide valid and reliable data and recommendations to grow women-owned businesses. Chmura Economics and Analytics was chosen to conduct the study.
The study assessed the business climate and economic impact of women-owned businesses in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The information will now be used to establish benchmarks for the Commonwealth at the local, state and national level as it pertains to women-owned businesses for such indicators as access to capital and influence on legislation. The study serves as a catalyst for innovation and effective change in the business culture; thus, transforming public policy, influencing opinion makers and strengthening the wealth of women business owners to promote economic development for all businesses.
Known for its networking and strength in building strategic alliances, NAWBO-Richmond has further been recognized as an organization with great depth in the benefits and resources it provides for women business owners. This study is now providing a new tool for elected officials, private companies and educational institutions to open opportunities for women business owners.
Several key findings from the study underscore the importance of the research. One key finding is the fact that “Virginia ranked 12th among the states with 237,371 women-owned businesses, based on 2012 data.” Further, “Virginia has 277,154 women-owned businesses employing 328,350 people and generating revenue of $57.2 billion a year.” In addition, the study found that “women-owned businesses accounted for 36.3 percent of all private firms in Virginia.” Finally, the study noted that the trends in Virginia “track national data between the period of 1997 and 2014” and noted that the number of businesses in the U.S. increased by “47 percent” during this period. Comparatively, “women-owned businesses increased by 68 percent—a rate of one-and a-half times the national average” between 1997 and 2014. Women-owned businesses are shattering the glass ceiling, and NAWBO-Richmond is proud to be part of the movement. Since the study, NAWBO-Richmond has begun establishing a Women Entrepreneur Center incubator for women-owned businesses in collaboration with other women business groups. We are working to strengthen the wealth creation of women-owned businesses every day.