NAWBO -Advocating for Women Business Owners Since 1975

Imagine… You’re a single mother with three small children and you want to buy a business to keep a roof over year head, feed your children, and secure a financial future for your family. You call the local bank president, a long-time friend, to ask for a loan. He asks who will co-sign the loan for you. You don’t have a cosigner. No matter how many times you call and share your business plan and sales projections, he continues to say “no.”

Prior to the passage of the Women’s Business Ownership Act, this was a common scenario. It was illegal for a woman to secure a business loan without a male co-signer. In fact, in one famous case from the time, a woman’s 17-year old son served as the co-signatory for his single mother’s business loan. Even uncles with bad credit fit the bill.

This landmark legislation – the Women’s Business Ownership Act – giving women the right to secure a business loan in her own name, without a male co-signer, was passed in 1988.

Yes, that’s right, 1988! It’s only been 31 years since then-President Ronald Reagan signed H.B.5050 into law. And, it still holds the record for the bill that progressed through the US Congress at the fastest rate – 102 days.

By 1988, Title IX had been put into place in 1972, Sandra Day OConnor was sworn in as the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981, and Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (N.Y.) had become the first woman vice president nominee by a major party in 1984.

And yet, women with dreams of entrepreneurship faced significant financial constraints for starting and growing a business to support themselves, their families and communities.

H.B.5050 was intended to create equality and access for women business owners by:

  1. increasing access to capital;
  2. creating inclusive systems for growth;
  3. increasing mentorship opportunities; and
  4. ensuring that more government contracts were awarded to women.

Governor Mike Dewine and NAWBOGovernor DeWine and NAWBO

1976 NAWBO Board
1976 NAWBO Board

The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) was founded in 1975 to serve as the first advocacy organization for all women business owners and lead the grassroots movement to advance this legislation. I had the privilege to meet some of those fearless and determined women last year, including Dr. Terry Neese who said, “We didn’t know we were making history; we were simply trying to create opportunities for ourselves, our families and our communities.”

In spite of the hard work and dedication over the years, in 2019 the goals outlined above remain largely unmet.

The Columbus chapter of this national organization, NAWBO Columbus, was founded in 1997, nearly ten years after the passage of H.R.5050, seeking to carry on the legacy of advocacy and equality for women business owners left by women like Terry. During our early years, the vision and work of NAWBO Columbus was led by fiercely committed volunteer board members, some of whom have gone on to serve in leadership roles at the national level. Building on the foundation of part-time administrative support, I was hired as our Chapter’s first full-time executive director in July 2017.

We believe that owning a business is one of the most effective ways for women to secure an independent financial future for themselves and their families, while creating opportunities in their communities and contributing to our country’s economic growth.

Women-owned businesses are significant contributors to the economy locally and statewide. Ohio is home to more than 306,000 women-owned businesses that annually generate more than $29 billion in revenues, creating 330,000 jobs and contributing $9.5 million in payroll. As one of the best cities to launch a business, Columbus boasts 48,000+ women business owners.

And yet, a substantial wealth gap exists for women entrepreneurs, who generate 78% less revenues than male-owned businesses. In Ohio, women entrepreneurs make just $.22 on the dollar. And, only 2% of female-owned businesses report annual revenues of over $1 million, compared to 7% of male-owned businesses. For women business owners of color, the numbers are even worse.

However, data also reveals that women outperform their male counterparts despite raising less money ($935K versus $2.12M). For every dollar of investment raised, female-run startups generate $.78 in revenue, while male-run startups generate only $.31, according to a recent study. Women-owned companies are simply a better investment; yet structural barriers exist – politically, socially and economically – which prevent them from fully realizing their true potential and impact.

We envision a more inclusive economy, where gender does not determine success, opportunity, and outcome. Where being a woman is not a barrier to business opportunity nor an obstacle to be overcome on the road to entrepreneurship.

We’ll know our work has been successful when female business owners are celebrated as the norm, not the exception, and all women are empowered to enjoy the same social, political and economic power as men, using that power as a force for good in our world. When the next generation – our daughters and granddaughters - will not just dream of, but, be empowered to fully realize their true potential to experience the independence, freedom and positive impact that business ownership can enable.

NAWBO and NAWBO Columbus are continuing to drive meaningful change and results for women in an economy that is ever-changing and becoming more inclusive and diverse.

Today, we are the largest NAWBO chapter in the U.S. Everything we do is focused on empowering women business owners to overcome challenges and fully realize their true potential, while making their mark on the world. We serve all growth-minded women business owners – from the entrepreneur with an audacious idea to the business owner leading a multi-million dollar enterprise – influencing opinion-makers and changing public policy to level the playing field for women, fostering a supportive community of role models and partners, and transforming women, their businesses, and the systems that hold them back.

NAWBO Cbus Members
NAWBO and NAWBO Columbus are continuing to drive meaningful change and results for women in an economy that is everchanging and becoming more inclusive and diverse.

 

 

 

 

 

  

NAWBO Cbus Members
In short, NAWBO Columbus provides an open, supportive environment for women business owners to nd solutions to their most persistent challenges – a sisterhood of growthminded women. Yasmine Robles of Robles Designs says, “NAWBO has been incredibly helpful for growing my business, networking, and to get out and have some fun.”

We are the only organization that serves all women business owners, across all sectors, and of all sizes through our robust advocacy platform. Most recently, we championed the creation of the first-ever Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification for Ohio. This certification will create greater competitiveness for women business owners in their communities and across state lines. Our public policy advisor tracks legislation that affects business owners on a daily basis. The WBE Certification legislation requires that the State of Ohio track and publicly report data on women business owners annually, beginning in 2020. This will allow us to provide the support needed for the fastest growing segment of our economy – women business owners.

Monthly networking and educational events provide opportunities for growing personally, exploring new ideas to help your business grow and prosper. Opportunities to connect with other women business owners, advocates and partners help to make the entrepreneurial journey less rocky. “I need a place where I’m acknowledged, received and appreciated. A place where my voice matters and my actions create impact for other women,” Babiya Polk, Aflac. 

 Our Roundtables provide an intimate setting to work ‘on’ your business, instead of ‘in’ it for a few hours each month. Roundtable members work collaboratively with six- to eight other women business owners, from non-competing businesses, to advance their business practices through peer-to-peer coaching and mentorship. Long-time Roundtable member, Lori Kaiser of Kaiser Consulting, says, “My roundtable is full of fearless women leaders and I use NAWBO Columbus as a place to get more comfortable with being visible.”

“Being part of a roundtable has been the #1 way I’ve gained incredible knowledge that’s led to the exponential expansion of my business. There are unlimited resources in NAWBO. No matter what your question is, there’s someone or something in this organization that can help you.” Lynsey Jordan, Permit Solutions, LLC

Our advocacy agenda is focused on understanding the root cause of the 78% disparity in annual revenue generation between women-owned and male-owned businesses in Ohio. According to a 2019 report commissioned by the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, entitled Assets for Equity: Building Wealth for Women in Central Ohio, entrepreneurship is cited as an accelerator for closing the gender wealth gap.

We’re keenly aware that the wealth gap is even larger for women of color and we’re committed to supporting them in our focus on equality. Unlike other social movements focused on women, we can’t wait another 20 to 30 years to level the playing field. Our families, communities and the economy are depending on the rise of all women entrepreneurs now.

Our Roundtables provide an intimate setting to work ‘on’ your business, instead of ‘in’ it for a few hours each month. Roundtable members work collaboratively with six- to eight other women business owners, from non-competing businesses, to advance their business practices through peer-to-peer coaching and mentorship. Long-time Roundtable member, Lori Kaiser of Kaiser Consulting, says, “My roundtable is full of fearless women leaders and I use NAWBO Columbus as a place to get more comfortable with being visible.”

Yasmine Robles goes on to say, “I know my membership is going toward a great cause – helping to close the revenue disparity between women-owned and male-owned businesses. NAWBO Columbus supports the empowerment and advancement of women-owned businesses - a cause I care deeply about.”

NAWBO Columbus EventsWe welcome the opportunity to connect and learn more about your hopes, dreams, and goals as a woman business owner. To learn more, visit our website at www.nawbocbus.org.

If you’re located in Northeast Ohio, connect with our sister chapter, NAWBO Cleveland. Join the movement today!

We welcome the opportunity to connect and learn more about your hopes, dreams, and goals as a woman business owner. To learn more, visit our website at NAWBO Columbus.

This article originally appeared in LUXE Magazine F/W 2019 Cbus Edition, page 16.

Excerpt from the original article by Lisa Robin Adkinsondesigner of Lisa Robin Jewelry and co-founder of LUXE Gives Back, LLC. She is fulfilling a lifetime desire to be a writer, editor, and publisher through contributions to LUXE Magazine. 


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