Women-owned businesses continue to help the U.S. economy grow at a healthy clip. They employ 9.4 million people, generate $1.9 trillion in annual revenues and account for 42% of all U.S. businesses.footnote1 A notable bright spot has been Black women’s entrepreneurship, which has more than doubled over the past decade.
Even with this progress, entrepreneurial-minded women face a myriad of cultural and structural obstacles, with Black and Hispanic/Latino women affected disproportionately. A 2019 study noted that women entrepreneurs routinely experience exclusion from networking opportunities, face barriers to funding, and are underestimated and overlooked.
Jump to a specific story
- Filling a vital gap in her community
- Forging a new path to help others like herself
- Building confidence and finding belonging
Skills-building to advance small businesses
To help women overcome such bias, Bank of America has expanded its Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell to offer 50,000 women an opportunity to participate in the only online Ivy League program offering a certificate in women’s entrepreneurship at no cost. The initiative is a demonstration of how the company continues to deliver on its $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity. Additionally, the Institute has developed a Spanish language curriculum and hired Spanish-speaking teaching assistants in order to more effectively reach Hispanic/Latino entrepreneurs. To date, 85% of enrollees have been Black.
Since launching in 2018, the program has offered enrolleesfootnote2 courses focused on areas such as finance, 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.
Participating in the Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship has already paid off for these three graduates. Each has made strides with her business, be it expanding an established operation, launching a second venture or finding the confidence to forge ahead.