In the News

Women-owned businesses continue to trend positively, especially in Iowa

The state of women-owned businesses in Iowa is overwhelmingly strong, according to a new study released in January.

The annual State of Women-Owned Business Report, commissioned by American Express and conducted by Ventureneer, tabbed Iowa as one of the top 10 states in economic clout growth rate — which considers the growth of women-owned businesses in numbers, employment and revenue. Iowa and Georgia were ranked eighth. South Dakota was No. 1.

Iowa also ranked fourth on the report’s employment vitality listing, which measures the employment strength of women-owned businesses.

“Achieving such a tremendous improvement for women business owners in Iowa wasn’t accomplished overnight,” Gov. Kim Reynolds told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “We’ve worked hard to nurture a dynamic startup ecosystem, fair regulatory environment and improved access to capital for female entrepreneurs and small business owners. This latest ranking validates our past efforts and serves as a milestone for future success.”

The overall outlook for women-owned businesses in Iowa has shifted dramatically in the past decade or so. Just three years ago, the very same report ranked Iowa last in economic clout, citing a small growth rate in women-owned businesses between 1997 and 2016. But organizations like NAWBO Iowa, Lead Like a Lady, the Women’s Business Center and many more have worked diligently to reverse the trend, and the fruits of their labor are being realized.

National trends are mostly positive, too

While there is plenty of optimism for women-owned firms nationally, the report concluded there is some unevenness in the growth of these existing businesses.

In almost 50 years, women-owned businesses have jumped from 4.6 percent of all U.S. businesses to 40 percent, but these enterprises still have a small slice of the overall pie. Women-owned businesses only accounted for 8 percent of all employment and 4.3 percent of total revenues in 2018.

That means there are more women jumping into business ownership, but many are failing to grow substantially. The next step, the report said, is helping women grow their businesses past the $1 million revenue mark and beyond.  

Regardless, the number of enterprises run by women is still increasing at a sharp rate. Women opened an average of 1,821 new businesses each day between 2017 and 2018.

Numbers are positive for minority women entrepreneurs as well. From 2007 to 2018, firms owned by women of color grew 163 percent. In 2018, women of color accounted for 47 percent of all women-owned businesses.

Across the board, women business ownership is trending positively — both in our state and nationally — and it doesn’t look to be slowing down.