By Geri Sanchez Aglipay
Women make an average of 84 cents an hour for every dollar paid to men, and women accumulate 32% of the wealth men generate. Pay disparities are pronounced for women who are Black, Native American, Latina and Hispanic, Asian American, as well as women with child and elder care responsibilities.
Yet entrepreneurship is a significant labor solution that can close the gender wealth gap. In October, we recognize National Women’s Small Business Month and the 12 million women-owned small businesses nationwide that employ over 10 million workers.
Under the Biden Harris Administration, women are leading the historic start-up boom with more than 457,000 woman-owned companies in Illinois generating over $18.4 million in payroll per Census data. As jobs are created, women’s economic equality opportunities increase.
Current federal investments in America’s infrastructure, small businesses, and workforce from the CHIPs and Science Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law help advance women’s labor force equality in Illinois. With the traditional sectors, new collar industries, R&D industries related to energy independence, and the resurging skilled trades – including a whopping 35% increase of women in manufacturing – Illinois female entrepreneurs are essential for an inclusive economy that also considers how care systems support working women.
In Illinois, women-owned companies in the recreation and retail industries are steadily rising. Brunetta Hill-Corley, the owner of Chicago’s Skyway Bowl –the only Black-owned full-service bowling alley in the country— utilized SBA pandemic relief funding to keep her legacy business afloat. The Illinois 2023 Small Business Person of the Year, Kathleen McShane represents that healthcare services are a number one ranked industry for women owners.
As SBA Great Lakes Regional Administrator who was born and raised in Illinois, its meaningful to witness how diverse Illinois women small business owners catalyze the state’s economy and influence job and financial security for themselves and their employees.
Yet obstacles persist that reduce women’s wealth building opportunities. It’s why the Biden Harris administration champions women’s access to capital and credit. Equity is a top priority for SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman. She’s committed to resources, services, advocacy and technology that help women overcome historic systemic barriers and exercise their rights to own a business and strengthen equitable fair market competition. Under Administrator Guzman’s leadership, SBA Women’s Business Centers are now in every state, DC and Puerto Rico.
Investing in America as a whole-of-government under President Biden means women can learn a skilled trade from a Labor Department apprenticeship and work with the SBA Illinois District Office for an SBA-backed loan or credit line, plus no-cost counseling to hang their own shingle. Women forge economic opportunities, and since part of October is Hispanic Heritage month – notably Latinas, Hispanic women open businesses six times faster than other groups.
Illinois women small business owners should contact the SBA Illinois Office to start, grow and thrive financially. I invite the community and stakeholders to join me and my colleagues at the SBA this October and yearlong so together we can accelerate women’s equitable paths to wealth equality.
Author Geri Sanchez Aglipay, U.S. SBA Great Lakes Regional Administrator
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Regional Administrator Geri Sanchez Aglipay was appointed by President Biden to oversee the delivery of the SBA’s agency’s programs, field offices, and operations across Region V in the Great Lakes Midwest states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Aglipay is the principal representative of SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman and provides interface with regional, state and local elected and appointed officials, trade organizations and small business communities across the region.