Governor Roy Cooper declared October 16 – 22 as National Business Women’s Week, honoring the achievements and contributions of women in North Carolina’s public and private sectors. In 2019 alone, women-owned firms contributed nearly $1.8 trillion in revenue, employed over 10.1 million workers, and made up nearly 20 percent of all firms across the country, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Our talented and diverse workforce make North Carolina the best place to do business,” said Governor Cooper. “It’s on all of us to ensure that women have access to equal opportunities and equal pay for equal work.”
“This week we pay homage to the incredible businesswomen across the state and nation who continue to light and pass the torch for future women leaders,” said NC Department of Administration Secretary Pamela B. Cashwell. “North Carolina is a better place because of their ingenuity, strength, creativity and entrepreneurial prowess.”
The growth of women-owned firms has been on the rise across the country and North Carolina is no exception. According to the NC Council for Women & Youth Involvement’s "Status of Women in North Carolina: Poverty and Opportunity Report," North Carolina was ranked among the top states in the country for the largest share of women-owned businesses in 2022.
However, despite this growth, the report showed that women-owned businesses face significant challenges when accessing capital. Many women entrepreneurs reported lower levels of start-up capital compared to men and in 2020 women’s share of venture capital fell to 2.3 percent, a 27 percent decrease from their share in 2019. Women-owned businesses were also among the many groups significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, the NC Department of Administration’s Office for Historically Underutilized Businesses introduced the Minority Business Development Agency Center in Research Tringle Park to support businesses disproportionally impacted by the pandemic and provide aid to help with recovery, including women owned businesses. Since its debut, the Center has served more than 300 historically underutilized businesses by providing technical support and connecting businesses to federal, state, and local procurement opportunities.
In addition, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 268 in 2022 to continue the work of the Andrea Harris Equity Task Force, named in honor and in memory of a North Carolina female pioneer in the business industry. Through her legacy, the Task Force continues to further the economic development of disadvantaged communities, improve the health and wellness outcomes of underserved communities and advance equitable and inclusive practices within state agencies, including practices that support the advancement of historically underutilized businesses across the state.
In honor of National Business Women’s Week all North Carolinians are encouraged to advocate and support women-owned businesses and join in celebrating their many contributions across the state.
For more information on North Carolina historically underutilized businesses and available resources, visit the NC HUB website.