Women Entrepreneurs Drive Utah’s Recovery from the Pandemic


By Marla Trollan, SBA Utah District Director

Since 1987, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has celebrated Women’s History Month to recognize the role women entrepreneurs play in building and strengthening our local and national economies. Women have transformed the face of entrepreneurship across America in both urban and rural communities. This is especially true as our nation begins to recover from the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only did the pandemic hit women in the workforce harder than their male counterparts, but it also hit women-owned businesses harder. A study recently conducted by Inc.com shows that, because of COVID, 64% of women-owned businesses saw a decrease in revenue and approximately 25% closed completely, which was 5% more than male-owned businesses.

We cannot sit by and let this pandemic reverse the progress our entrepreneurial women have made over the last generation. The SBA Utah District Office is aware of the vital role women entrepreneurs play in this state. They boost our economy, liven up our communities, provide jobs to other women and support their own families. In Utah, over 101,000 businesses are owned by women, which is 43.8% of all Utah small businesses.

According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, women-owned businesses generate $1.7 trillion in sales and employ over nine million people in our nation. These woman-owned businesses represent one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy. Given this tremendous growth, women continue to face challenges and obstacles that men don’t when starting and growing a business.

A recent study conducted by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy shows women-owned firms are overrepresented in industries related to domestic services, which tend to have low growth potential. The study also presents the following concerning findings:

  • Women are more likely than men to run home-based businesses
  • Women with children were more likely to have a home-based business.
  • Men with children were less likely to operate their businesses from home.
  • Women with children at home were less likely to operate in high-growth industries, while the opposite was true for men.
  • Women with college degrees were more likely to be in high growth industries like construction and accounting/booking services while men in high growth industries tended to have proportionately fewer college degrees.
  • Racial minorities own more businesses in women-concentrated industries, such as beauty salons and childcare services.

The SBA continues to support initiatives that benefit the women’s business community by addressing capital access barriers, providing business training, improving access to government contracts and providing disaster recovery assistance. The SBA Utah District Office assists women entrepreneurs through the Women’s Business Centers of Utah, which help women with starting and growing small businesses. These centers provide a full range of services for women entrepreneurs at all stages of planning, implementation and growth.

Over the last three years, the WBC of Utah has more than doubled the number of individuals they serve annually and nearly quadrupled their participation – up 380% from 661 sessions in 2019 to 2,516 sessions in 2021. The WBC of Utah also recently launched a Utah Women-Owned Business Directory, which provides women-owned businesses more visibility and allows anyone who would like to support women an easy way to look for services or products.

Other mentoring programs for women include SCORE, a network of thousands of volunteer business counselors around the country who mentor and educate small business owners, and our Small Business Development Centers, a network of business counselors located in 13 regional centers across the state. Recently, the agency launched an online training platform called Ascent, which provides a wide range of coaching journeys to build business knowledge.

For those interested in contracting with the federal government, the Women-Owned Business Certification helps equalize the procurement process for women business owners, as the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses certified as women-owned. This initiative compliments SBA’s 8(a) program in assisting socially and economically disadvantaged business owners to access federal contracts.

At the SBA, our role is to support all entrepreneurs in recovering from recent challenges and realizing new growth for their businesses. This is especially true for our women entrepreneurs, whom we duly recognize during National Women’s History Month. For more information on SBA’s programs and services, please visit www.sba.gov, follow us on Twitter @SBA_utah, and subscribe to our e-newsletter at www.sba.gov/updates.

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