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Women’s Entrepreneurship in Green Industries Fact Sheet
Every day, women are starting their own businesses. In fact, women‐owned businesses grew at twice the national average for all other business types between 1997 and 2008.1 An estimated 10.1 million companies, or 40% of all privately owned firms, were owned by women as of 2008.2 While women have made substantial inroads, there remains plenty of opportunity for women to create and grow businesses. Only one in five companies with $1 million in annual revenue—a standard measure of success—are women‐owned businesses. Moreover, only about 4% of all revenue is generated by women‐owned businesses, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research.
Opportunities in the Green Economy
The growing commitment to sustainability has increased the demand for green products and services. This, in turn, creates opportunities for women with the ideas and the passion to start their own green businesses. Being a green business owner can offer meaningful employment that is economically rewarding, socially responsible, and environmentally beneficial. At the same time, it may help women looking to balance their family lives with their professional ambitions.
Green industries are growing and changing very quickly. Many existing industries such as transportation, consulting, manufacturing, and construction are increasingly adopting a green focus.3 Women entrepreneurs can find their niche by “greening” existing products and services. Opportunities also exist in green sectors of the economy such as sustainable agriculture and forestry, energy and carbon capture and storage, environmental protection, energy trading, and recycling and waste reduction.4 In fields like these, women can develop and market new products and services.
Role of Workforce Professionals, Training and Education Providers, and Advocates
Workforce professionals act as “door openers” for women entrepreneurs, providing them with basic information and helping them find the resources to train for, set up, and run a business. Assistance should take into account the scale and complexity of the proposed endeavor; a sole proprietorship will have very different needs from a business with multiple employees. Several fundamental entrepreneurship supports are described below.
Entrepreneurship Training Programs. Training resources exist for women entrepreneurs at every stage of business development. Those just starting a business should be encouraged to obtain formal training in the basics of entrepreneurship, while experienced business owners may be interested in targeted courses to update their skills or learn new ones. As the green economy grows, more colleges will be adding green‐specific business programs. Here are some of the options now available:
Many community colleges offer business courses and certificates with topics like developing a business plan, dealing with
regulations, adding product lines, cutting costs, or finding customers. Some universities also offer green‐specific programs. Business centers, chambers of commerce, and associations also offer entrepreneurship training.
Local community organizations or professional organizations may offer training for green entrepreneurs.
Many colleges and universities have technology‐transfer offices that help women convert more advanced green concepts
into growing businesses.
Small Business Organizations. Every state has public or private entities dedicated to helping small businesses. They include Small Business Development Centers, small business associations (e.g., SCORE), and chambers of commerce. A national network of Women’s Business Centers has been established by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership. The centers offer training and counseling on many topics to help women start and grow businesses.
Economic Development Agencies. Created to support state and local businesses, these agencies help with such things as creating a business plan, finding financing, training a workforce, and streamlining the permitting process.
Business Incubators. These place‐based centers offer a wide range of resources for new entrepreneurs, including office space, lab facilities, and more. A growing number of incubators are specifically designed for green business start‐ups. For example,
April 2010 Women’s Entrepreneurship in Green Industries Fact Sheet Page 1
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