Women-owned businesses are extremely profitable. In fact, the 2022 Annual Report from the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) found that in 2019, women-owned businesses earned $1.8 trillion in revenues. Despite these statistics, 73% of women found funding to be difficult to obtain. And according to Harvard Business Review, women-led startups received just 2.3% of venture-capitalist funding in 2020.
Luckily, there are many resources available to increase financial literacy, foster industry connections and provide mentoring support for women entrepreneurs. Here are 15 organizations, agencies, and programs that can aid women business owners.
Association of Women’s Business Centers
The Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC), a nonprofit organization that partners with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), works to help women-owned businesses by supporting and promoting Women’s Business Centers across the U.S. The SBA has more than 100 Women’s Business Centers around the country, where women can receive training, mentoring and more. AWBC also holds events and webinars focused on networking and education.
Center for Women & Enterprise
The Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE), one of the largest regional nonprofits dedicated to helping women-run companies, works to empower businesses in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Since 1995, the organization has worked with more than 45,000 women-owned businesses by providing education, training, technical assistance, microloans and certifications.
International Association of Women
The International Association of Women (IAW) provides women with many different resources to support professional development. There are a variety of networking and community events members can participate in, with focuses ranging from tips for becoming a great manager to self-care solutions for neck or back pain. IAW stresses the importance of both the physical and mental well-being of women entrepreneurs and demonstrates this through its mentorship program. Members can connect with a mentor who can provide guidance for both business and personal growth. Those who join IAW also have access to exclusive promotions from popular companies providing business solutions, such as UPS, LegalZoom and more.
Ladies Who Launch
Ladies Who Launch takes a modern approach to empowering women entrepreneurs by hosting experiential events and connecting women via digital platforms. The organization’s mission is “support, celebrate, and educate women entrepreneurs throughout the world.” They offer an online academy and a newsletter for those who can’t connect at in-person events.
Moms As Entrepreneurs
The nonprofit organization Moms As Entrepreneurs (MAE), if you couldn’t already tell from its name, has a clear mission to support the “mom entrepreneur community” by providing training and financial education. MAE hosts various classes and events, and it works to connect mom entrepreneurs with access to funding.
National Association of Women Business Owners
Since 1975, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) has worked to represent and advocate for women entrepreneurs all over the U.S. The organization helps its members by hosting in-person and online events, offering an institute and resources to help all women-business owners learn, and promoting public policy solutions to government leaders.
National Women’s Business Council
The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is a nonpartisan federal advisory council that provides advice and recommendations to Congress, the SBA, and other facets of government on behalf of improving the economic outcomes of women-owned businesses. As part of its mission to advocate for women, the organization also hosts helpful roundtables and webinars that provide advice and education.
National Women Business Owners Corporation
The National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) is the first national certifier of women-business owners. NWBOC provides official certifications to both women- and veteran-owned businesses and acts as a third-party certifier for Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs). However, the organization offers much more than certifications. The NWBOC supports business development and access to new opportunities, specifically through events such as its well-known Access Conference last held in Detroit. Additionally, all NWBOC-certified members can join a mentorship program, attend training sessions and webinars, and be eligible for several honors/awards given by the organization.
SBA Office of Women’s Business Ownership
The Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO), part of the Small Business Administration (SBA), works to “enable and empower women entrepreneurs through advocacy, outreach, education and support.” The OWBO oversees more than 100 locally based Women’s Business Centers, which can provide guidance and technical assistance to women-owned businesses around the country.
SBA Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting
On top of providing guidance and funding help, the U.S. Small Business Administration also offers the ability for women-owned businesses to compete for set-aside federal contracting. The federal government has a goal to award at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned businesses each year. As such, some contracts are restricted to women-owned small businesses (WOSB) and some are set aside for economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB). To take part in this program, women-owned businesses must first get certified by the SBA.
SCORE for Women Entrepreneurs
SCORE for Women Entrepreneurs is a great resource, no matter what stage your business is at. SCORE provides guides for women at the “Plan and Start” stage, the “Manage and Grow” stage, and the “Transition and Exit” stage. In addition to free guides, SCORE offers free and confidential business advice, a mentorship program, and a variety of events and online courses, from “How to Recession-Proof Your Business” to “Understanding Money Management.” While SCORE is a national organization, those who visit the website are prompted to enter a zip code to find local resources, events, and members, increasing networking opportunities.
U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce works with women entrepreneurs to help grow and strengthen women-owned businesses across the United States. The Chamber provides resources for women, such as regular meetings and events, and the opportunity to certify their business. The Chamber also advocates for women by speaking out against policies that don’t support women, endorsing political candidates who show demonstrated support for women, and publishing free, shareable resources detailing the importance of women’s economic priorities.
Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) was founded in 1997 to “develop a nationwide standard for women-owned business certification.” Now, the organization is the largest third-party certifier of businesses operated by women. The WBENC frequently hosts events that help educate women entrepreneurs and provide resources that support business growth. The organization also keeps a running list of programs, scholarships, grants, financial resources, and networking opportunities specifically designed to support women.
Women Impacting Public Policy
Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a nonpartisan national public policy organization founded in 2001, works to advocate at the national level on behalf of women-owned businesses. While policy advocacy is the primary objective, WIPP also plays a role in educating women entrepreneurs on policy and legislative matters to help them become better advocates in their own communities, including on issues such as health care, procurement policies, taxes and more. The organization hosts a robust number of events that include networking, education, and celebrations honoring women business owners.
Local, regional, or national trade groups
Trade groups are beneficial for entrepreneurs looking to connect with other industry professionals and gain access to training and education resources. There are many different trade groups available, from the local to the national level, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, many of their meetings and events have moved online, so they’re more accessible. Trade groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have local chapters across the United States and can be a great resource for general business education and networking. However, if you’re looking for a special interest trade group, organizations such as the Minority Chamber of Commerce or the Women’s Business Development Center may be great places to start.