There’s a group of businesspeople hard at work across the country who deserve our recognition and support. They have a history of overcoming obstacles but now own four out of every ten U.S. businesses and employ more than 9 million people.1
That impressive group, of course, is women — and on Sunday we celebrate them on American Business Women’s Day, a national holiday established in the 1980s by congressional resolution and a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan.
We’ve come a long way
Throughout my 18 years in the banking industry, never before have I seen more enthusiasm from women in their pursuit of financial security and success through capitalism. Women are the future of entrepreneurship in this country. Proof of that is evident in the accelerated growth of women-owned businesses.
Since 2007, the number of businesses they own in this country has grown by 58%, more than four times the average for businesses in general. Going back a bit further in time, in 1972 women only owned about 402,000 businesses. Today, that number has grown to more than 12 million.2
Indeed, we’ve come a long way as both owners and business executives.
Challenges still loom
Yet despite the positive trends, women-owned businesses employ only 8% of the nation’s private sector workforce and account for only 4% of the nation’s business revenues. In addition, women-owned businesses grow at a slower rate and earn less revenue than male-owned firms.3 Some believe this can be attributed to the limited funding these businesses receive. In fact, access to capital is believed to be the largest hurdle for women-owned businesses, and financing becomes even more of a challenge for women of color.
“Women are still less likely to apply for loans because they fear they will be denied, and when they do apply, they request smaller loan amounts,” according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.4
In facing the financing challenge — as well as other obstacles, such as access to mentorship and balancing career and family demands — women in business need continued support from other business leaders, educators, consumers and financial professionals.
Three of the top 10 states for women entrepreneurs are in the Gulf Coast region5, and at Hancock Whitney we have a long history of supporting the business ventures of such women. We’ve been the bank behind a number of successful female-owned enterprises, ranging from legal and CPA firms managed by female partners, to physicians, real estate developers, prominent restaurant owners, architects, engineers and designers.
Our brand tagline — Your Dream. Our Mission. — speaks directly to the relationships we have forged with women in business for decades.
I invite you to visit the “Supporting Women in Business” page on our website and take a look at the inspiring stories of women in business in our region and the role Hancock Whitney has played in helping them fulfill their dreams.
To all women in business in the communities Hancock Whitney serves, on this special day we congratulate you on your accomplishments, thank you for the jobs and innovation you’ve produced to drive our local economies, and enthusiastically invite you to partner with us as you pursue your dreams.
Rachel Nunez is Vice President, Commercial Banking, based in New Orleans.
1 The Women’s Business Enterprise National Counsel
2 The Women’s Business Enterprise National Counsel
3 “Tackling the Gender Gap — What Women Entrepreneurs Need to Thrive,” a 2017 paper produced by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.
4 “Tackling the Gender Gap — What Women Entrepreneurs Need to Thrive,” a 2017 paper produced by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.
5 Thumbtack Journal