Each month, nearly half a million businesses are formed in America, according to the Kauffman Foundation. A recent report commissioned by American Express shows more than 9.1 million women-owned businesses were operating in the U.S. in 2014, up from 8.6 million in 2013. Women just like you are entrepreneurs or aspiring to start their businesses.
Whether you’re trying to secure resources and capital for your business, or simply looking for advice, you can't underestimate the importance of networking. Business and social associations and organizations exist, both in your community and online, that can help you expand your knowledge base and establish valuable contacts.
Below is a list of Business and Government Resources and National Women's Associations and Advocacy Groups.
Business and Government Resources:
This resource for women interested in franchise opportunities features a searchable database of franchises organized by financial requirements, and includes both low-investment and higher-income franchises. They also offer a monthly e-mail newsletter.
According to its website, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership's mission is, “to establish and oversee a network of Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) throughout the United States and its territories.” The listings of resources you can access via the OWBO include:
Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) Directory - Get free advice and guidance for your small business.
Gateway for Women-Owned Businesses Selling to the Government - Access tips and tools to help your small business get ready to compete in the federal sector.
National Women’s Business Council - Find important data about women-owned businesses including government policies and statistics.
You can find a listing of the variety of services the SBA provides specifically to help women entrepreneurs, “launch new businesses, grow their businesses, and compete in the global marketplace.” Information includes online resources, financing opportunities, and a directory to the SBA’s Women’s Business Centers across the country.
Access a list with links to information, news and tools as well as services the U.S. Department of Labor offers women.
The Amber Grant Foundation began in 1998 with the sole purpose of furnishing grants to women entrepreneurs. The Foundation gives “qualifying” grants in the amount of $500 to women-owned businesses each month, and a grant of $2500 to one of the 12 qualification winners at the end of the year.
National Women's Associations and Advocacy Groups:
ABWA was founded in 1949 and offers career development and networking through regional conferences and local chapters, as well as online learning, and member discounts on business products. ABWA publishes a digital magazine, Women in Business. Members can participate in “KU-MBA Essentials,” a twelve-course program focused on the essentials of management education.
The AWBC supports women's entrepreneurial development through training, mentoring, and financing opportunities. The national association provides resources to a national network of women's business centers, which in turn offer education, technical assistance, and access to capital for woman entrepreneurs in their communities. AWBC members can be Women’s Business Centers but also individuals and organizations supportive of women in business.
NAFE serves both women professionals and business owners with resources including educational opportunities, networking, and public advocacy. The NAFE Leadership Summits take place in cities around the country and feature speakers, training and skill building.
Founded in 1975, NAWBO empowers women business owners through national and regional networking, procurement resources, educational opportunities and other types of business support. Their website features articles, statistics, briefing papers, and other informational resources.
Women 2.0 supports the next generation of technology leaders through information, community, and events geared towards increasing the number of female founders of technology startups. They offer content through their website, PITCH conferences, and online Investor Hangouts.
WIPP is a bipartisan organization that advocates on behalf of women and minorities in business. Its legislative priorities include access to capital, government procurement opportunities, and issues such as tax regulation, healthcare policy, energy policy, and telecommunications. Members can get training and other support to be able to advocate for their own business or sector.
WPO is an international non-profit organization for women who preside over companies that gross $2 million or more each year. Local chapters meet for intensive and confidential monthly peer advisory group meetings with professional facilitators to share best practices, set goals, and offer each other guidance.
The USWCC advocates on behalf of businesswomen nationwide by testifying about and lobbying for legislative issues that affect its members, including pay equity, and access to government contracts for woman-owned businesses. The USWCC offers certification, bid matching services, and directories of members and suppliers.
Founded in 1997, WBENC is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the US. Through WBENC, business owners can connect directly with purchasing directors at major national corporations, as well as access executive and other training programs and attend their annual national conference.