For women who own or want to own their own businesses, there are a number of resources available to assist them, from scholarships to help earn a business degree to organizational websites that can advise women entrepreneurs about starting or growing their enterprises.
- The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE): This nonprofit, nonpartisan association represents thousands of entrepreneurs and micro-businesses throughout the United States. Through three scholarship programs, the NASE offers members and their dependents awards of $1,000, $3,000 and $10,000 to pursue such avenues in business instruction as continuing education, training for licensing or certification, and college.
- AFCEA International: This organization provides a forum for discussion and exploration of issues relevant to information technology, communications and electronics for the defense, homeland security and intelligence communities. AFCEA’s Young Entrepreneur Scholarships are $2,000 each, awarded to students who are employed by a small business and are pursuing hard science or technology disciplines directly related to the mission of AFCEA.
- The United Negro College Fund (UNCF): In partnership with CVS Caremark, UNCF has created scholarships for students studying business and related fields. Selected students receive a $5,000 scholarship.
- TG’s Adventures in Education (AIE): This is a public-service website that provides free resources to students, parents, counselors, and educators to help students plan and complete their higher education. Through its General Electric/Lulac Scholarship program, minority students in business- or engineering-related subjects can be awarded $5,000.
- The Stephen Bufton Memorial Educational Fund (SBMEF): Administered by the National Board of Directors of the American Business Women’s Association, this fund assists women pursuing advanced educational goals, enabling them to achieve business and professional success. Each year, hundreds of American women receive financial assistance through various programs including business skills tuition reimbursement, grants, national graduate scholarships, corporate scholarships, chapter/network impact scholarships and legacy donor scholarships.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): This official government website provides a wealth of instructional articles, blogging, forms and manuals, and information about financing opportunities and Women’s Business Centers to help women entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses and compete in the global marketplace.
- The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO): NAWBO represents the unified voice of America’s more than 10 million women-owned businesses and is the only dues-based organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries. Boasting more than 5,000 members and 60 chapters, NAWBO is a one-stop resource providing educational material, advice, statistics, networking information and contacts, and access to financial and other types of assistance.
- Women Accessing Capital Program: The training developed by Women Impacting Public Policy Inc. (WIPP), a national nonpartisan organization that advocates for women and minorities in business, provides women information that can be immediately applied to advancing their businesses. Courses provide the necessary tools to competitively seek the appropriate type of funding, obtain money and then manage a financed firm, taking it to the next level.
- Chic CEO: Billed as a more lively website for women who need practical, easy-to-understand business knowledge to help them launch an enterprise or build on an existing one, Chic CEO offers templates, advice from established entrepreneurs, blogging and other exchange forums, and instructional material as well as a formal training program for women who want to take the next step in their business’ growth.
- The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC): This is a non-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the SBA on economic issues of importance to women business owners. Through research, news articles, fact sheets and blogging, the NWBC keeps followers updated on current affairs in the nation’s capital and receives feedback to consider in their political discourses.
A growing trend among women entrepreneurs is the emergence and reliance upon angel investors, so named because they invest their own money in businesses. According to the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture Research, the number of these investors swelled from fewer than 20,000 in 2005 to almost 58,000 by 2013. Similarly, women made up 23% of U.S. entrepreneurs seeking angel capital in 2013, up from 9% in 2005.
Unlike mostly male-dominated venture capital groups, angel investors are far more likely to fund a well-considered idea from a female entrepreneur. In fact, as the percentage of women in venture capital groups has begun to decline further rather than increase, it is postulated that a growing number of them have become tired of the stubborn gender bias for men entrepreneurs and are deciding instead to form groups that can chart their own course in assisting businesswomen.
“If we can put our own money in play in the market, we begin to see that we’re the solution to our own problem,” says Lauren Flanagan, managing director of Belle Capital USA, a women-led angel fund. “And that’s going to be huge.”