Women entrepreneurs are starting companies at twice the rate of the overall growth of small businesses,footnote1 and women-owned firms now account for more than four in 10 businesses in the U.S., employing millions and bringing in trillions in annual revenue.footnote2 Still, female entrepreneurs face stiff headwinds, with Black and Hispanic/Latino women disproportionately challenged.
To help female entrepreneurs overcome stubborn barriers to success, the private sector is increasingly looking for ways to provide education, outreach, funding and more. For example, Bank of America increased its commitment to the microlender Kiva, which assists women entrepreneurs from over 70 countries. Kiva’s mission is to expand financial access to underserved communities, and since 2005 the nonprofit has enabled 4 million borrowers worldwide — four out of five of them women — to land small, crowd-funded loans worth a total of $1.6 billion. In an effort to direct more capital to U.S.-based Black and Hispanic/Latino entrepreneurs, Kiva and Bank of America have launched a new Bank of America Loan Fund for Women Entrepreneurs at Kiva, funded by a $1 million commitment from the bank, which matches Kiva loans dollar for dollar. The support for this program is part of the bank’s $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity.