Women business owners need capital to succeed; here’s how we’re helping them get it

Women today have a huge impact across all sectors of the business world and our economy. According to a report from the U.S. Small Business Administration, women now make up 47 percent of the country’s workforce, controlling $14 trillion, or 51 percent, of personal wealth in the U.S., and are now the primary source of income in over 40 percent of households. The U.S. Census Bureau also tells us 99 percent of the almost 10 million women-owned businesses in America are small businesses. Understanding the challenges these women face, their behaviors and their plans for the future is crucial to helping them flourish and grow the economy for us all.

“Women-owned businesses are home runs,” says Bank of America’s Vice Chair, Anne Finucane. “They’re very attentive, good at paying back money and quick to know when they’re in trouble. Women are a good bet.

Women-owned businesses are home runs. They’re very attentive, good at paying back money and quick to know when they’re in trouble. Women are a good bet.

Anne Finucane
Vice Chairman at Bank of America

Earlier this year, we took a concerted look at the opinions, needs and priorities of women small- business owners and issued a report that helps us see a clearer picture of how they’re viewing the economy overall, and what challenges and opportunities they see ahead. The good news is, a majority believe that in the next two decades, women and men will achieve pay equity and women will match or exceed men in executive leadership or C-suite roles and small-business ownership. The women surveyed also anticipate more support for women and families overall, predicting that more states will adopt paid maternity leave policies over the next 20 years

However, despite women’s overall optimism about improvements in the economy and their place in it, the report also stated that the number of women small-business owners who plan to grow their business over the next five years has decreased from 60 percent, in 2016, to 54 percent, in 2017. While the report didn’t look at the specific reasons why fewer of these women planned to expand, we know from previous findings that many of them face challenges in securing the capital they need to succeed.


Over the last 40 years, women-owned businesses have generated trillions of dollars in economic activity and revitalized communities by providing tens of millions of jobs. However, women entrepreneurs seeking capital are more likely to be turned down for loans than are men, with only one in 23 dollars in loans going to a woman. Another study, by Babson College, found that, despite the fact that 36 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are women-owned, businesses owned exclusively by men are four times as likely to receive venture capital funding.

Whether or not they can secure financing is one of the earliest, most determinative factors for women entrepreneurs trying to grow businesses and create jobs in their communities. Deploying capital in more thoughtful, creative ways can help level the playing field and fuel the future of the economy.

In 2014, we partnered with the Tory Burch Foundation to launch the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program, bridging the gap between women entrepreneurs and the capital they need to grow their businesses. Our program connects women business owners with affordable loans, administered through community development financial institutions (CDFIs), which provide capital and technical assistance to underserved markets and populations who might otherwise have trouble accessing financial services like this.

One CDFI in Texas, PeopleFund, provided a loan through the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program enabling Andrea Pedraza and her daughter, Cindy, to grow their business, CocoAndré Chocolatier, into the first women-owned, owner-occupied Hispanic business in their Dallas neighborhood, Oak Cliff. Another woman business owner, Kim Hughes, in St. Louis, Missouri, started BKJ Accounting and Tax Services on her own in 1994, and thanks to a loan from CDFI justinePETERSEN, she was able to grow her business, serving clients across the United States.

Since launching the program, we’ve deployed more than $35 million in capital across 16 U.S. states, connecting more than 1,700 women entrepreneurs like Andrea and Kim to affordable loans. We’re the nation’s largest lender to CDFIs overall, investing more than $1.5 billion in CDFIs across the country, breaking down barriers to accessing capital that women business owners and others may face.

Small-business owners — including women business owners — are integral to the overall success of our economy, and the flow of capital into businesses is crucial to elevating the success of business owners and local economies. As a global financial institution, we have a huge role to play in ensuring that women from the U.S. and around the world have the tools they need to contribute to the economy. Clearly there is more work to do, but the partnerships we’ve already formed have helped create the infrastructure needed to continue funneling the capital and other financial tools women business owners will need as we all move forward into the future.


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