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The Status of Woman- and Minority-owned Business in America

Content provided by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council

Woman-owned and woman-led firms represent a most promising segment of our national economy. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, they outpaced other U.S. businesses in both growth and economic contribution from 1997 to 2004. During this time period, woman-owned firms (with 51 percent or more ownership by a woman or women) grew at nearly two and a half times the rate of all U.S. privately held firms (23 percent vs. 9 percent). They are generating nearly $1.2 trillion in revenues. And, they provide jobs for 9.8 million people.


What else defines these businesses? They are small, medium and large; rural, suburban and urban; product and service-based; family owned and global; product and service-oriented; non-traditional and everything in between. The diversity of woman-owned businesses selling to corporate America is truly astounding.


Minority businesses, too, are rapidly accessing the American dream through entrepreneurship. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 1997 to 2002, the number of businesses owned by Asians grew by 24 percent, while African-American minority businesses grew by 45 percent. Hispanic minority businesses grew by 31 percent. Together, women and minorities compose nearly 50 percent of all small businesses in the United States. Millions of Americans report for work each day in a company owned by a woman or minority CEO. They pay for their mortgages, children’s tuition and summer vacations with salaries paid by a woman- or minority-owned firm. How have women and minority businesses grown so large? Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Carlson Companies found their spectacular success by helping others succeed—by franchising successful business models, directly serving the needs of a “who’s who” of global corporations, even helping those corporations build better relationships with their own customers. David Steward, whose World Wide Technology is one of America’s largest African American owned businesses, has carved out a major niche in the telecommunications industry.

The world is waiting for more Marilyn Carlson Nelsons and David Stewards. As of 2005, nine Fortune 500 companies are run by women, and a total of 19 Fortune 1000 companies have women CEOs. Not interested in leading the next IBM? Growth opportunities abound at all levels. The world of business is changing, and woman- and minority-owned businesses like yours are on the cutting edge at every level. 

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