Connecticut has seen robust growth in businesses owned by women over recent years, and much of the increase appears to be driven by minority entrepreneurs.
A new study shows that the number of companies owned by women in Connecticut grew by 20 percent since 2007. That far outstrips general business growth in the state. Report author Julie Weeks, who carried out the research for American Express, says it reflects women taking on new challenges.
"More and more women have higher levels of education," said Weeks. "There are more and more women in workforce now than there were a generation ago, and women are in jobs with managerial experience, and other jobs that are giving them stronger professional networks. So really in many ways entrepreneurship is the next professional frontier for a lot of women."
But the growth in women owned businesses in Connecticut fell well short of the national average over the same period, which stood at 45 percent. The gap reflects the state’s overall economic lag since the great recession. Weeks says Connecticut’s cities represent a bright spot, with Hartford seeing 30 percent growth, largely fueled by entrepreneurship among women of color.
"In fact, between 2007 and 2016, nearly 8 out of every 10 net-new women-owned firms being launched has been started by a woman of color, which is pretty remarkable," she said.
Weeks says the rise in women owned businesses is also a reflection of more institutional support as the public sector, nonprofits and corporations all begin to provide funding, collaboration and mentorship for female entrepreneurs.