Started in the early 1900’s, International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the many achievements of women and is held on March 8th of each year. This year’s theme is “Be Bold for Change,” a commitment to helping women and girls achieve their ambitions, challenging conscious and unconscious bias, and creating inclusive flexible cultures with gender-balanced leadership. There are a number of different ways to commemorate International Women’s Day and for many, it’s an opportunity to promote gender-focused activity, such as supporting local women-owned businesses and celebrating women entrepreneurs.
However, the support of women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs not only further women-based initiatives, but also supports economic growth. Simply put, supporting women in these entrepreneurial initiatives, supports the economy and everyone in the community as a whole. In places such as Singapore and Hong Kong, research suggests that there are an equal number of women and men starting new businesses, recognizing women entrepreneurs as a vital part of achieving sustainable development.
According to the National Women’s Business Council, there are 9,878,397 women-owned businesses in the United States generating $1.4 trillion in receipts. These women-owned businesses cover a variety of industries from health care and social assistance, whole sale trade to management of companies and enterprises.
Recognizing the benefits of women’s participation in the economy, many privately-owned business, local governments and the national government recognize certain women-owned businesses as a Woman Business Enterprises, or “WBE”, when it obtains a “WBE” certification. The “WBE” certification has a number of benefits. For example, certain initiatives have been enacted to require government departments and agencies to ensure that a certain percentage of its purchasing contracts go to “WBE” certified businesses. In addition, governments, their agencies and privately-owned companies are actively looking to diversity their supplier base by doing business with “WBE” certified businesses.
In addition to the “WBE” certification, the federal government also created the Women-Owned Small Business certification, or the “WOSB” certification to aid it in its statutory goal of awarding five percent (5%) of its federal contracting dollars to women-owned businesses. In February of 2011, the U.S. Small Business Administration implemented its Women-Owned Small Businesses Federal Contracting Program to enable certain WOSBs to compete for federal contracts. The program has certain set-asides for these WOSBs in industries where they are underrepresented to help achieve the federal government’s statutory goal.
In celebrating this years’ International Women’s Day, remember that entrepreneurship is not gender-specific and with governments and companies seeking to continually diversify its business practices, the number of female entrepreneurs will continue to increase in our growing culture of innovation and development.
The attorneys of Maiello, Brungo and Maiello, LLP proudly supports its business clients who are women-owned businesses, female entrepreneurs and companies who actively support its female employees, staff and executives.
 National Women’s Business Council Fact Sheet, Women-Owned Businesses (WOBs), NWBC Analysis of 2012 Survey of Business Owners.