Since the start of the pandemic, women business owners have generated record levels of small business start-ups. Each year, women-owned businesses generate more than $ 1 trillion in sales and in 2020, women created half of all new small businesses, up from a quarter of new entrepreneurs last year. At Bank of America, approximately 40% of our small business clients are women, which is above the national average.
Central Indiana is increasingly seen as a great place to launch a start-up, especially for women. According to a 2020 SmartAsset study, the Indianapolis / Carmel / Anderson area was ranked in the nation’s top 25 best places for women entrepreneurs, with a startup survival rate of nearly 80%.
Bank of America’s 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight shows that women entrepreneurs have strong prospects for economic and business growth. Sixty-one percent expect their incomes to increase over the next year, while economic optimism and hiring expectations have also risen since last fall. Despite their optimism and resilience, women business leaders – and women in general – have been severely affected by the pandemic.
Nationally, women have left the workplace in the past year amid a pandemic-accelerated exodus that reflects wage inequalities and care expectations that conflict with the today’s hybrid work environment. In September 2021 alone, more women left the workforce than the U.S. economy created jobs. Before the pandemic, women made up over 50% of the US workforce, underscoring their importance and vital contributions to the US economy. When women have access to the tools and resources they need to function, as well as more avenues of access to capital in Indianapolis, our local economy and community will thrive and prosper.
Finding a work-life balance is difficult for female business leaders, even in times of non-pandemic – they wear so many hats within their companies, from CEOs to salespeople to HR and all. the rest. For women business owners, this year highlighted the importance of finding opportunities to take a break and disconnect from the daily stress of owning a business, taking time to do enjoyable activities, prioritizing time spent with family and friends, adopting a healthy lifestyle or disconnecting from the news.
Our data revealed that women entrepreneurs recognize the impact of pandemic stressors on their mental health and in turn protect the health and well-being of their employees. Half of female business owners have taken steps to address employee burnout by changing or planning to change their approach to employee well-being and benefits due to the pandemic, including allowing for a flexible schedule. more flexible or remote work and offering more paid vacation or sick leave. What’s more, 48% of female business owners have even cut their own pay to keep their employees on staff during the pandemic.
Through our extensive work with women entrepreneurs, we know that one of their biggest challenges is identifying sources of funding, especially in the midst of the pandemic. Our 2021 Women in Business Spotlight shows that 42% of women have never applied for a business loan or line of credit. And according to our previous research, nearly 60% of female entrepreneurs say they do not have the same access to capital as their male counterparts, and almost a quarter believe that women will never have equal access to capital.
To help women business owners in Indianapolis and across the United States navigate the capital landscape, Bank of America recently partnered with Seneca Women to launch the Bank of America Access to Capital Directory. The comprehensive, searchable database allows women capital seekers to sort potential funding by type – including seed, Series A, or late stage capital, as well as grants and borrowed capital – based on the phase and needs of their business. This one-of-a-kind platform is the only place women entrepreneurs can find this vital aggregate content.
However, it’s not just about accessing capital: it’s also about training, education and understanding how to run a sustainable business over time. As part of our ongoing work to invest in women, Bank of America provides tailored mentoring and networking opportunities for women to ensure they get the support they need. In 2020, we expanded the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship to Cornell, a free Ivy League certificate program that helps women learn skills and access resources to grow their businesses. To date, we have had over 30,000 women enrolled in the program, over 90% of whom identify as black, Hispanic-Latino or Asian.
With women-owned businesses accounting for over a third of all small businesses in the United States, investing in their success in Indianapolis has never been more important. Women entrepreneurs are essential to driving strong and healthy economies, and to create opportunities for these entrepreneurs to thrive and lead, it is essential to understand their priorities, their day-to-day realities and their challenges. As women entrepreneurs accelerate the growth of their businesses and revitalize our local economy, Bank of America remains committed to their success throughout the year.