As a female entrepreneur, I’ve been very happy to see the recent growth in resources and support for women who own businesses. It seems there have never been so many programs and organizations dedicated to empowering women to start their own companies, including the recently announced partnership between Bank of America and the Tory Burch Foundation. These two powerhouses have come together to form Elizabeth Street Capital, which has the goal of issuing a total of $10 million in loans to female entrepreneurs in six cities.
National resources include the National Association of Women Business Owners and Femfessionals, which provide networking and development for their members.
Innovators should also check out the Huggies Mominspired Grant Program, which awards up to $15,000 to inventors of family-focused products.
Many cities also have local groups that provide support for female business owners.
When considering resources that are dedicated to helping women, the question sometimes arises: Why do women need their own groups? In the words of one blogger (writing about a recent women-only startup conference), “We want a seat at the table, not a special table off to the side.“ Personally, I’ve sat at three different kinds of tables in my years as a business owner: primarily male, balanced 50/50, and primarily female. All three types have value.
I urge you to explore and take advantage of the resources that are all around for female entrepreneurs, not because we should only sit at that table, but because we have much to teach one another. That will prepare us for fully participating in the co-ed business world and will bolster us when we’re the only woman in the room.
Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book “Ask the Mompreneur“ and the founder of the social shopping website CartCentric.com. Email her at TheJennieWonggmail.com.