Photo Credit: Tariq Tarey
American Business Women’s Day is a time to honor the accomplishments and contributions of millions of women in the U.S. workforce and recognize the significant impact women owned businesses have made throughout our region and the country. Women owned businesses play a vital role in our economy, and the number of women owned businesses continues to rise, both locally and nationally.
In Cuyahoga County, the number of women owned businesses increased by 43 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with 29,977 women owned businesses in 2007 and 42,859 in 2012. Additionally, Women Business Enterprises make up 38 percent of the total companies registered through Cuyahoga County’s Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Women Business Enterprise (WBE) Program. Nationwide, women were majority owners of 9.9 million businesses, which generated $1.4 trillion in sales and employed over 8.4 million individuals in 2012, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Although the number of women owned businesses is growing, there is still more progress to be made. For instance, firms owned by women have 42 percent lower revenue than firms owned by men, according to Cuyahoga County’s 2014 Disparity Study. Cuyahoga County is committed to making our region economically competitive and inclusive. Supporting minority and women owned businesses is a top priority of County Executive Armond Budish’s Administration. In order to further support women owned businesses, the County is simplifying the certification process for minority and women owned businesses through the SBE/MBE/WBE program. The “Quick Certify” application allows businesses to expedite their certification process and spend less time filling out paperwork and more time growing their business.
In addition, Cuyahoga County created the Microenterprise Loan Fund Program in 2013 for the purpose of providing access to capital and financial counseling to microenterprise businesses and entrepreneurs unable to obtain traditional financing for their small business ventures. The program, administered by the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), provides microloans to promising small businesses.
BlackBird Fly Boutique is a successful woman owned small business located in the Cleveland neighborhood of Ohio City. Owner, Angelina Rodriguez Pata, opened Blackbird Fly Boutique more than three years ago after following her passion for art and fashion. As a first-time entrepreneur opening a retail establishment, she had been turned away by three banks, but found renewed hope for a loan at ECDI. With a freshly polished business plan, Angelina was approved for an ECDI small business loan. Today, Blackbird Fly Boutique is going strong, and Angelina is searching for the ideal space to open her second location.
“Due to the recession, starting a small business has become increasingly hard. Though women entrepreneurship is on the rise, it can still be tough unless you have access to the capital you need,” said Angelina Rodriguez Pata. “Traditional loans through banks just weren't an option for me. They could only see a venture in retail as a high risk. Thankfully, ECDI and Cuyahoga County saw just the opposite. Small businesses aren't easy. However, with companies like ECDI the possibilities are endless for women in the future. They truly helped open the doors to my business. I am proud to say I am a Hispanic woman business owner, and ECDI and the County helped get me there.”
We urge all residents to support women in business not only on American Business Women’s Day, but every day. You can do this by shopping at local women owned businesses; sharing information about women owned businesses with family and friends; or posting on social media using the hashtag #AmericanBusinessWomensDay, to name a few.
For a list of local women owned businesses, visit: https://www.wbcohio.org/directory/cleveland-and-northern-ohio/.