Wyoming ranks 43rd nationwide for the percentage of women-owned businesses.
Let's talk about some of the structural barriers preventing women from being able to launch businesses and accumulate wealth in our state. Nationwide, the biggest obstacle to women starting businesses and those businesses seeing success is access to capital. This is just as true in Wyoming. (Maybe more so, hence our turn in the bottom 10.)
Despite evidence that women business owners make significant contributions to the economy—women business owners employ more than 4 million workers and contribute about $1 trillion to the economy—women continue to struggle to access capital. Not only does funding for women lag behind that of our male counterparts, once we are approved we're receiving smaller sums than our male counterparts.
Nationally, women own 30% of small businesses but receive only 4.4% of total dollars in conventional small business loans made.
Women receive 16% of the conventional loans made and 17% of SBA-backed loans.
Women receive more loan denials than men.
On top of that, we only receive about 7% of venture capital investments.
And, last but not least, women-owned businesses land only 3.5 percent of all federal contracts, far short of the 5 percent goal.
And a few other choice tidbits about structural obstacles: Women raise smaller amounts of capital and rely on personal sources of income more than men. Women are seen as “less credible” and “less legitimate” as entrepreneurs. Even women investors still prefer to work with men business owners (which means the resource gap won't be closed simply by having more women in VC—we have to change ingrained attitudes, too).
For more on all of this, the report from the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship is a great resource. You can also check out reports here and here.
This is a good place to talk about how *all* structural issues, obstacles, and challenges amplify and exacerbate each other.
Women are subject to the wage gap which gives us less economic security, which, in turn, affects our ability to save—or capitalize new businesses. Because we have less access to traditional loans, as detailed above, women are more reliant on personal sources of financing.
Women are more likely to bear the burden of unpaid care work which gives us fewer hours for paid work. That unequal distribution of unpaid caregiving and domestic work have a significant impact on our ability to launch businesses and accumulate wealth.
Women are largely absent from the tax code which means that we’re more likely to pay more in taxes due to both the pink tax and a regressive tax structure, further depleting our resources.
Taken together, it paints a grim picture that crowds out possibilities for most women, and reminds us that it is *remarkable* that women are starting and running successful businesses at all!
Together, we can make changes that will help unlock the potential that women have to run successful businesses. We can close the gender wage gap. Eliminate regressive tax structures. Increase access to capital. Jumpstart women-owned businesses.
Women entrepreneurs can be a boon to Wyoming’s economy—at a time when our entrepreneurship is sorely needed.
Some bright spots!
The Wyoming Council for Women has started highlighting female entrepreneurs in Wyoming—there are absolutely great examples of women in Wyoming who have beat these odds, overcome these obstacles, and are launching and running successful businesses. Kylah Bowers owner of Altitude Drug in Pinedale and Ariane Jimison owner of Pizza Carrello in Gillette are two examples of women entrepreneurs in Wyoming.
Chambers of Commerce can be helpful in highlighting their female business owners, too. The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, for example, plans to kick off 2020 and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment with a January 2nd Business Over Breakfast highlighting women business owners.