October is National Women’s Small Business Month, a necessary moment to highlight the incredible work female entrepreneurs do — from being economic engines for their local communities to building vital businesses. As women small business owners, we welcome the attention and focus of a month dedicated to us. However, the reality is we need more than a month.
Women small business owners face unique systematic barriers that often hinder our success, a fact only exacerbated by a devastating pandemic. When women small business owners thrive, everyone wins. Small businesses remain the backbone of our country and the pipeline to the middle class, and women finally deserve their seats at the table.
As two Latinas, becoming entrepreneurs allowed us to turn our bright-eyed dreams into a reality. We founded two successful and profitable Miami small businesses, Azucar Ice Cream and Panther Coffee. The road was not easy. We entered a sector that was and still is largely male-dominated. However, we did not make it this far by giving up. Our grit led us to become not just successful small business owners but proven leaders in our communities. Small business owners are vocal and passionate about their communities. We are fortunate to bring that same energy to our work, neighbors and other women business owners.
Small business struggles
But not every woman entrepreneur is as fortunate as we are. If you don’t believe our story, look at the numbers.
A recent study by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses clearly highlights the disparity and unique challenges that women entrepreneurs face. Forty-eight percent of female-owned small businesses are struggling financially due to the continued impact of COVID compared to 39% of male-owned small businesses. Another 47% of all women small business owners report having less than three months’ worth of cash on hand, a figure seven percentage points higher than their male peers.
Regarding childcare, 57% of women small business owners under the age of 45 said a return for kids to remote learning would make it difficult to retain employees due to childcare challenges. We face unique challenges and need unique solutions to level the playing field. The facts speak for themselves — more needs to be done, and here’s how.
Investing and sharing
We need to begin to address these gaps by investing in female entrepreneurship. From access to capital and financial literacy to networking and mentorship, the government and the private sector must invest in the growth and development of female entrepreneurship.
At the same time, female entrepreneurs must come together to share resources and experiences — to push each other forward. Especially as all small business owners struggle to bounce back, we need tools to come back stronger than ever. Without that, not only do we lose vital economic drivers but a generation of potential local leaders and change makers. Knowing the gender disparities that exist, support for women needs to be front and center.
The last year saw women small business owners face disproportionate impacts from the pandemic’s many challenges. At this pivotal moment, Miami would benefit from supporting women-owned small businesses now or see the loss of critical women leaders for generations to come. Our advocacy and care for women entrepreneurs cannot stop at the end of the month. So for the betterment of our economy, our home of Miami and all women business owners, let’s keep working for equality after Oct. 31.
Suzy Batlle is the owner of Azucar Ice Cream and Leticia Pollock is the owner of Panther Coffee. Both are graduates of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.