Overview

Woman-owned businesses are increasing in number, range, diversity, and earning power. As of 2014, more than 9.1 million firms were owned by women, employing an additional 7.9 million people and generating 1.4 trillion dollars in sales. Women-owned firms account for 30% of all privately held firms and contribute 14% of employment and 11% of revenues. As women business owners expand their companies, they become increasingly important to the local, regional and national economies. 

Targeted Services for Women

The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers provide services to all small business populations and make special efforts to reach members of historically underrepresented and underserved populations, including women. In fact, women-and jointly-owned businesses consistently represent over half of our client base.

Understanding the unique challenges women face, the SBDCs provide services tailored to their specific needs:

  • Experienced, professional staff help women uncover resources and loan programs available to help them start and grow successful businesses. For instance, consultants may recommend opportunities such as SBA's Small Loan Advantage Program, designed especially for those historically underrepresented in the business community.
  • SBDC consultants help small business owners take advantage of opportunities that level the playing field within the private and public sector. For instance, with the 8(a) Business Development Program or Women-Owned Small Business Certification, women-owned firms capable of producing quality products and services have a more competitive position in procuring contracts.
  • The SBDCs serve women entrepreneurs by providing targeted training and technical assistance to help them compete. Regionally, SBDCs coordinate roundtables, networking groups, forums to enable women to know the range of programs and publications available to them throughout their business ownership.

To find your local SBDC, click here.

Programs and Resources

Financing

  • Entrepreneur Works provides loans, workshops, and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs in underserved areas of the Greater Philadelphia area.
  • Women Opportunities Resource Center (WORC) provides entrepreneurial training, individual business assistance, incentive savings programs, and access to business and financial resources. The Economic Opportunities Fund is a subsidiary of WORC and a U.S. Department of Treasury Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that offers loans, investment products and services to women and minorities in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area looking to start or expand their businesses.

Training and Business Planning

  • Pennsylvania Women Work is a statewide nonprofit organization that provides free services to women in the form of education, job training, and job placement services. Through its New Choices program, Pennsylvania Work Women offers free classes on topics such as Career Development, Microsoft Office, Introduction to Computers, and Customer Service Training for single parents, displaced homemakers, low-income heads of households and women in transition.
  • SCORE is a nonprofit association supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration that provides free and confidential business counseling, both online and in-person, by holding events and workshops locally across the U.S. and its territories and matching up entrepreneurs with volunteer mentors. It also hosts an online resource of free business tools, templates, and tips.
  • Women’s Business Center at Community First Fund provides free training, customized business counseling, loan capital, and advocacy support to small business enterprises in Pennsylvania.
  • Women’s Business Development Center is a statewide organization that offers training, counseling, and networking programs and services through courses, programs, workshops, series, and strategic planning sessions of varying length, and a business finance program that provides loan packaging assistance and individualized financial counseling along with financial education programs.

Membership Based Organizations

  • Association of Women's Business Centers is a national non-profit organization that provides women business owners and entrepreneurs with assistance through a national network of over one hundred Women’s Business Centers (WBC) supported with funding from the SBA. WBCs help women succeed in business by providing training, mentoring, business development and financing opportunities – such as help in securing rounds of venture capital.
  • National Association of Women Business Owners is a dues-based organization with chapters in the Northeast Pennsylvania, Greater Pittsburgh, and Greater Philadelphia areas that provide business resources to its constituents.

Legislative

  • Business & Professional Women in Pennsylvania is a statewide, membership-based organization that advocates for working women in Pennsylvania, addressing legislative issues that affect women’s lives and sponsoring programs and scholarships to improve women’s lives and careers.
  • Women Impacting Public Policy is a national nonpartisan public policy organization that educates women business owners on economic policy and current legislative initiatives that impact business health and growth. Its primary activity is gathering information and disseminating it to members, tracking and reviewing legislation concerning small business owners, and informing its members of legislators' positions on issues.

Other

  • BusinessWoman is a Pennsylvania-based online and print publication with a target readership of women who are balancing their careers, families, and personal well-being.
  • Pennsylvania Conference for Women is a one-day professional and personal development event for women that features speakers sharing inspirational stories and leading seminars on the issues such as health, personal finance, executive leadership, small business and entrepreneurship, work/life balance, branding and social media marketing.

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