The Current State Of Women And Minority Business Owners
Women in business continue to make gains year after year. As of 2017, women owned more than 11.6 million firms nationwide and generated $1.7 trillion in sales. That’s more than a 50 percent increase since 2007!
The gains extend to minority entrepreneurs and women of color, who now make up 20 percent and 17 percent, respectively, of all women-owned businesses. Black women represent the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. Close to home, Memphis has been recognized as a top city for both African-American and women entrepreneurs. Nashville follows closely, ranking among the nation’s top cities for women entrepreneurs.
From West to East, Tennessee has proven itself a place where women and minority business owners can thrive, and we believe much of that progress owes to the partnerships formed everyday between business owners and mentors, organizations, and resourceful nonprofits like Women’s Business Centers.
What It Means To Work Together
At Pathway Women’s Business Center, we’re dedicated to helping all entrepreneurs, especially women and minority business owners who have been historically underserved. Through our programming, we help support their efforts to secure the resources they need for their businesses to succeed. One way we do this is to connect experienced business owners and new entrepreneurs through our mentorship program, relationships that insist everybody leave behind their egos in order to focus on making a difference.
“I’ve greatly increased my network of great people throughout this program, both among my mentor team and through introductions they’ve made. I now feel much more confident to take on the challenge of running multiple locations, and I have a great network of people and resources I can turn to anytime I need help.” ― Alexa Hulsey, Owner, East Nashville Community Acupuncture & Ignite 360 Program Participant
Our mentors recognize the role support they’ve received has played in their success, and they understand the importance of helping the next generation of entrepreneurs. The right relationships aren’t always people who look and think like you but individuals whose power and influence can help you get where you want to be or who already occupy similar positions. We’ve seen our clients surround themselves with the people they want to learn from and continue to attract that support throughout their business journeys. Over the years, these partnerships branch out to become solid ecosystems of mentors, mentees and sponsors.
“Develop relationships beyond people who look like you and think like you, but be very strategic in building a network of people who are doing the things you dream of doing.” ― Dr. Shanna Jackson, Nashville State Community College President
The growth statistics on women entrepreneurs mean these partnerships can and do impact our economy and countless livelihoods. With any successful women-owned business comes more opportunity for creating jobs, building wealth, and unlocking new ways to pay it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Pathway Lending Partnerships Toward Success
As part of Pathway Lending, Pathway WBC shares in a collective mission to finance businesses and strengthen communities. Beyond WBC’s resources and education, our organizational partnerships have continued reinforcing our connections to the markets we serve.
A key partner, the Tennessee Bankers Association and its member banks, has played an instrumental role in the success of our Rural Opportunity Fund. After more than a decade, the fund has generated $31.8 million in loans to 102 small businesses in rural Tennessee. Women-owned businesses represent 41 percent of the clients in that fund. Our track record of proven success lending in Tennessee has also earned Pathway Lending TBA’s Endorsed Partner designation, a testament to the strength of our relationships with TBA member banks.
In Memphis, we’ve partnered with Epicenter to launch the Memphis Small Business Opportunity Loan Fund, a $15 million fund created to improve access to capital for Memphis-area minority- and women-owned businesses. Authentic community partnerships like these amplify our impact and help solve unique challenges entrepreneurs face in communities where we work.
Through our year-old partnership with Epicenter, we’re seeing the impact on Memphis entrepreneurs, including Tanocha Thedford of Big Momma’s & Granny’s Catering. She expanded to her first brick-and-mortar location after receiving business education and lending from Epicenter and Pathway Lending.
Through the Entrepreneur Center’s Navigation Program, we’re able to help connect entrepreneurs to the best-fitting resource for them in Nashville. We’re lucky to partner with such an instrumental Nashville organization and were honored last year to win 2018 Navigation Partner of the Year Award for the work we’ve been able to accomplish together.
“Pathway has given me the tools to define my business, brand, and ideal customer. I’ve been blessed with a bold tribe of fearless women that have encouraged me to honor my brand’s purpose. Through education, business coaching, and a marketing mentorship, I have been able to increase my brand visibility, gain collaborations, and find unique ways to become radically generous as well.” ― Andreall Moore, Owner, Moore Suds
Altogether, our organizational partnerships create an ecosystem of business support across Tennessee and beyond. Our partners enable us to provide the lending, education, and mentorship that are pivotal in our clients’ businesses and lives. By forming these integral relationships, we’re able to reach new communities with the resources that are right for them.
What It Means To Be Bold
Establishing any partnership begins with the courage to ask for help. When you can be bold, reach out to someone, and listen to them, you’re setting the foundation for a strong relationship.
This past International Women’s Day, we celebrated women entrepreneurs and what it means to Be Bold in your life and business. Hear directly from the inspirational leaders who spoke at the event through the Entrepreneur Center’s Navigation podcast.