Photo credit: US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Women in Business

Who runs the world? Well according to a report published by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Women in Business, the number of female entrepreneurs is rapidly expanding -- and women-owned businesses contribute billions to the US economy.

Ninety percent of female entrepreneurs are sole proprietors, a segment of the economy that as a whole has annual sales exceeding $887 billion. Small businesses without payroll (solopreneurs and freelancers) make up more than 70% of America's 27 million companies.

Here are a few other interesting items from the report:

  • 30% of all new businesses are owned by women. The amount of new female-owned businesses have grown by one and a half times the rate of male-owned enterprises over the last 15 years.
  • Self-employed workers as a whole have grown 9.1% since 2001 and in 2013, which equals over a million new self-employed workers.
  • Women entrepreneurs employed nearly 15.9 million Americans in 2013.
  • According to The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, women owned businesses are projected to create 5-5.5 million new jobs in the United States by 2018.
  • The top five states that have the most female self-employed workers are in the west: Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Nevada.

That said, women entrepreneurs still face many challenges. The report also found that only 1.6% of venture-backed compnaies had a female founder and just 20% had a female C-level executive, despite the fact that more successful startups have more women in senior positions and more than twice as many women in top jobs (for startups with five or more women employees, 61% were successful and 39% failed).

The study also suggests ways that communities can work to build supportive networks for local female entrepreneurs. Successful development organizations for women entrepreneurs have identified six policy and program approaches that have created and expanded women-owned small businesses:

  • Advocacy on women’s business issues
  • Business management assistance and support
  • Access to contracts
  • Access to capital
  • Leadership development
  • Mentoring

What are your thoughts on this study, freelancers? Have any of you been involved with local development organizations that assist female entrepreneurs?