When we hear about the relative dearth of women in tech or the small number of female entrepreneurs, our attention may reasonably be drawn to Oh, So Sunny Silicon Valley (see #9 in this Inc.com facts file). Or we may be distracted by the three women in San Francisco bringing Uber to court last month, claiming unequal pay, benefits.

And none of these perceptions stand apart from the appalling wave of high-profile sexual-assaults and the ensuing public outcry, including the viral #MeToo movement.

So it may surprise you to notice that, as of 2015, 500 women-owned businesses are started every day in the US, as noted by Balboa Capital. (Interesting sidenote: North Carolina, home state of tekMountain, ranks ninth in the nation among states with the most women-owned businesses.)

Or we may be startled to learn how significantly the number of successful women entrepreneurs has increased in two generations, according to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report.

In fact, as Inc.com reported in its Top Entrepreneurship Trends for 2017, “2016 was a banner year for female entrepreneurs, as the number of women starting businesses reached a 20-year high. Although gender parity is still not there, women are starting 40 percent of all new businesses.”

The most recent Kaufman Index of Startup Activity (PDF) points out that, while men are still far more likely to start businesses each month than women are, “the rate of new entrepreneurs increased sharply from 2014 to 2015 for women, going from 0.22 percent (220 out of 100,000) to 0.26 percent (260 out of 100,000).”

Source: Kauffman.org

The opening this year in New York’s SoHo district of The Wing, Manhattan’s first all-female coworking space, is a potent message. The Wing’s expansion from its original location in the Flatiron district will continue into 2018 as they transplant their ecosystem into Brooklyn and Washington, DC, as well.

CNBC earlier this year pulled no punches by stating unequivocally that women entrepreneurs will be the economic force to reckon with in 2017. Their evidence?

  • Women now make up 40 percent of new entrepreneurs in the United States — the highest percentage since 1996, according to the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity.
  • From 2015 to 2016, women’s entrepreneurship rates increased by 10 percent on average versus 5 percent for males, across 51 economies that participated in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey
  • Although female entrepreneurs are less likely to use crowdfunding than men, they raise an average of 10.75 percent more money than their male counterparts, according to the GEM report.

Of course, barriers to female entrepreneurship haven’t suddenly fallen; the problem hasn’t dissipated. Much hard work and attitude adjustment remains to be done. The CNBC report continues, “Despite substantial progress on the start-up front, the ‘scaleup gap’ between men and women remains huge.” And “Only 3 percent of women-owned firms in the U.S. have ‘high economic impact,’ generating $500,000 or more in revenue, compared to 9 percent of male-owned firms, according to the 2016 State of Women Owned Businesses report commissioned by American Express OPEN.”

And it is true, as KNowledge @ Wharton noted, that America’s female entrepreneurs receive relative table scraps of funding from the male-dominated, venture-capital banquet.

Like many artistic talents, entrepreneurial talent often manifests best as a generational learning. It’s no surprise that, as noted in the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneurship Report, 64 percent of women entrepreneurs have a history of entrepreneurship in the family. What may be surprising, however, is the importance that women entrepreneurs place on the direct influence of parents and other role models. The three women entrepreneurs who won L’Oreal’s 2013 Next Generation Awards certainly feel that way, as captured in this TechCrunch video.

Along with a passel of surprising facts about female entrepreneurship, Inc.com confidently states that the women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is gaining traction. With its ongoing collaborations with Cape Fear Women in Tech, Cucalorus Connect Conference, and other regional organizations, supporting this traction has always been essential to the mission of tekMountain, one of America’s leading entrepreneurial and innovation centers.

Find your voice, get plugged into a network of like-minded mentors, entrepreneurs and allies by contacting tekMountain today.


This blog was produced by the tekMountain Team of Sean AhlumAmanda SipesZach Cioffi and Beth Roddy with lead writer Bill DiNome.

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