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Women-Owned Businesses Shine

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Women business owners are having a greater impact than ever on the nation’s economy.

Immense growth over the last ten years has spurred their breadth of influence.
According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, from 1997 to 2004 the growth rate in the number of women-owned firms is twice that of all firms combined. Today over 9 million businesses in the U.S. are more than 50% women-owned. These companies employ nearly 25 million workers and annually contribute over $3.5 trillion to the economy.

Here are some more facts to consider:

  • Technologically, close to 60% of these firms with revenues upwards of $1 million incorporate technology, such as a Website, into their business strategy.
  • Stylistically, women owners emphasize relationship building and are more likely to consult outside of their experience than are their male counterparts.
  • Financially, nearly 80% of women entrepreneurs receive capital from individual investors as opposed to 15% from venture capital firms.

Congressional legislation is helping to foster the growth of women-owned businesses. In 2000, the Small Business Association (SBA) Reauthorization Act redefined procurement goals for minority- and women-owned businesses and established the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Assistance Program. The WOSB allows agencies to “restrict competition” in contracting with industries where WOSBs are underrepresented.

In 2003, The Women’s Business Centers (WBC) Preservation Act was designed to gain grants for existing WBCs and has made the WBCs a permanent program.

Currently, Congress is also dealing with contract bundling – federal agencies combining several small contracts into one large contract thus eliminating direct competition among small businesses, pushing them to seek subcontracts.

These pieces of legislation are due in large part to support systems around the country representing the voice of women entrepreneurs. They include:

  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
  • Center for Women’s Business Research
  • Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)
  • Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC)
  • National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)

Not only are these organizations making an impact domestically, but they have begun to share “best practices” across borders and around the world.

In selecting a financial advisor, high-net-worth women business owners stress the importance of feeling confident that their advisor is acting in their best interest. For more on what services Merrill Lynch may provide for the growth of your company, contact a Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor.

1Center for Women’s Business Research, “National Trends,” fwbo.org/nationalnumbers.html

For more information, please contact your local Merrill Lynch office:
New Orleans 1-800-937-0266
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Slidell 1-800-735-4709
Biloxi 1-800-937-0321

©2006 Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated. Member, SIPC.
Reprinted by permission, from Merrill Lynch Business Life, Vol. 7, No. 1 (January 2006).