At Friday’s joint hearing of the NYC Council Committee on Small Business Issues and the Committee on Women’s Issues held at City Hall, 250 Broadway and co-chaired by Diana Reyna and Julissa Ferreras, members discussed the special issues that women face as entrepreneurs trying to survive in their local communities.
By invitation, Maria Otero, President and Founder of the Women’s Venture Fund, testified on the current state of women entrepreneur-ship in the region and the role her organization plays in helping women successfully establish scalable businesses.
“We’re concerned about the inequities women face in the financial sector as it affects their ability to start and grow their businesses. Women are the fastest growing segment within the small business community however only 1% ever reach $1 million in revenues.” Ms. Otero credits this to the lack of both business resources and access to financing – a barrier not experienced by men entrepreneurs.
She notes that the “Women’s Venture Fund is a Community Development Financial Institution and the only lender in the entire NY/NJ region that focuses exclusively on female entrepreneurs, providing business training, advisory services and loans.” Ms. Otero proposed these practical and far-reaching policy changes:
1. Alternative lenders need to be financially supported to bridge the credit gap for women. The legislature should capitalize these lenders to provide equity funding in conjunction with the business advisory services it already provides.
2. Women should be assisted in their access to government resources. Such an ombudsman approach would enable women to better navigate what can be a sea of confusing documents and processes.
3. Address the fact that women are effectively shut out of accessing the innovations that are readily available for commercialization at federally funded technology transfer stations.
The Women’s Venture Fund is a non-profit organization which is dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs thrive through its training programs, advisory and business loan programs.