Women-owned businesses continue to help the U.S. economy grow at a healthy clip. They now employ 9.5 million people, generate $1.9 trillion in annual revenues and account for 40% of all United States businesses.foot note1 A notable bright spot has been with Black women’s entrepreneurship, which has more than doubled over the past decade.
Despite this progress, entrepreneurial-minded women face a myriad of cultural and structural obstacles, with Black and Hispanic-Latino women affected disproportionately. A recent study noted women entrepreneurs routinely experience exclusion from networking opportunities, barriers to funding and are underestimated and overlooked.
Skills-building to advance small businesses
To help women overcome such bias, Bank of America has committed to expanding its Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell to 50,000 participants, with a specific focus on women of color operating their own businesses, as it continues to deliver on its $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity. Since launching in 2018, the program which is offered at no-cost, has offered enrolleesfoot note2 courses focused on areas such as finances, product development and marketing, leadership, communications, and legal and compliance requirements, as well as opportunities to build professional networks. Registration is open to anyone worldwide, regardless of gender, educational background or business stage.
“With women bearing much of the economic brunt of the pandemic – and particularly women of color – our further investment in the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell has never felt more important,” said Anne Finucane, vice chairman at Bank of America. “Amid the unforeseen challenges and events this year, we must continue to invest in women entrepreneurs to drive economic growth. Because when women-owned businesses thrive, our communities flourish.”
Building confidence and finding belonging
For Fila Antwine, a recent graduate of the program, one of its most beneficial aspects was the sense of being a part of a community. “Women are often made to feel as though they aren’t suited to running a business,” she notes of her experience trying build her wellness and personal coaching business, Fila Antwine Coaching & Consulting. “The Cornell course shut that narrative down, completely. Sharing so many common experiences with other women in the course, I came out of it with a greater sense of confidence and belonging.”