PhXX Forward: Empowering Women Business Owners 

by Kristin Slice

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According to Shelnvestments.com, for every $1 a woman earns, 90 cents are given back to her family and back into her community. The power of investing in women’s economic development has been proven around the globe and is currently the foundation of several of our leading global initiatives on entrepreneurship.

One of our community’s greatest strengths is our women business owners. Phoenix is home to the fifth-largest chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) in the country. However, in the 2014 American Express Open Report on Women Business Owners, Arizona fell in the Ranking of Growth in Number & Economic Clout of Women-Owned Firms, from fourth in 2012 to fourteenth in 2014. Other similar cities are realizing the possible economic impact of supporting women business owners and are pushing resources toward their development.

General acceptance of “women business ownership” as a legitimate career is shockingly new. It was in 1985 that NAWBO helped pass HR 5050, the law that finally made it LEGAL for a woman to get a loan without the co-signature of a man. Recently, we have seen a burgeoning awareness of women business owners as a population, and yet there is still a gap to fill. Sharon Hadary recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal “women consistently have been launching new enterprises at twice the rate of men, and their growth rates of employment and revenue have outpaced the economy.” However, she goes on to say, “the average revenues of majority women-owned businesses were still only 27 percent of the average of majority men-owned businesses.”

The cities that are investing in women business owners are looking at systematic ways to help close this gap. Phoenix is positioned to continue to fall in the rankings and miss out on the huge economic opportunities that come from growing women-owned businesses. It is not an easy conversation to have nor is there a simple solution. But starting the conversations and bringing awareness to these gaps is critical.

There is a gap between the services and support that Phoenix Women Business Owners need to grow and that which we currently have available in our marketing.

We deserve more than general training events with the word “women” thrown in front to sell more tickets. We deserve more than lip service “awards” where they prance us in front of an audience and ask us pageant questions. We deserve to be invested in, versus treated as good PR.

Together we can make Phoenix the No. 1 city for female entrepreneurship in the country, and strengthen our community and our future at the same time. Through the PhXX Forward initiative, we can ask real questions and develop strategies to close that gap. Get involved, attend the PhXX Forward strategy session August, 8th, help us develop solutions to impact the future of our community.

Kristin Slice, MA, is the founder of Empowered Lab Communications

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