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The rise of women business owners

Over the past decade, the number of women owning or starting their own businesses has been on the rise.

According to data from the National Association of Women Business Owners [NAWBO], more than 9.4 million firms across the county are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people and generating $1.5 trillion in sales as of 2015. About 2.9 million of those firms are owned by women of color.

Nearly one-third of all privately-held firms are women-owned. And when it comes to handling the big bucks, one in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned.

The Guardian Small Business Research Institute projects women-owned businesses will create between 5 million and 5.5 million new jobs in the United States by next year.

This national data is reflected locally as well. In Missouri, women have been launching businesses at nearly twice the rate of men in recent years, and the growth of women-owned businesses in the Show Me State – both in employment and revenues – has continued to outpace the economy.

According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri ranked 20th in the nation for states with the largest number of women-owned businesses, showing 162,616 women-owned businesses bringing in more than $24 million [compared to Missouri’s total 491,606 businesses bringing in more than $598 million]. Health care and social assistance and retail trade were among the top categories of Missouri’s women-owned businesses.

These statistics are evident right down to St. Louis County.

As of 2012 [the most recent year for which statistics exist], St. Louis County accounted for Missouri’s largest percentage of businesses owned by women. About one out of every five, or 20 percent, of women-owned businesses in Missouri was located in St. Louis County.

What are the reasons behind this substantial growth? According to a 2015 NAWBO survey, many women entrepreneurs feel the time has never been better for women to start their own businesses. When asked what it takes for a woman to be successful over the longer term, one of the traits mentioned was a passion for the business idea – a trait that is echoed by local businesses.

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