Texas has the second highest number of women-owned business in the country, according to new US Census Data released this afternoon. But the percentage of women-owned businesses in Texas still falls slightly below the national average.
The data shows that 28.2 percent of firms in Texas were owned by women in 2007. That puts Texas in 17th place nationally, and half a percentage point behind the national average of 28.7 percent. Washington DC had the highest percentage of women owned businesses at 34.5 percent. Maryland was second at 32.6 percent. South Dakota had the lowest percentage of women owned businesses, just 22.1 percent. (You can see the full Excel spreadsheet here.)
"A lot of people still say, 'Do you own that, or does your husband own that?'" Emily Adkinson with the Women's Business Enterprise Alliance in Houston told KUT News. "There's a lot of women owned businesses out there that are overlooked, and people might not realize are owned and operated by women."
But there is a lot of support for Austin-area women who want to start their own enterprise, according to Claudia Conner, director of the Central Texas Austin Women's Business Center, an organization funded in part by the US Small Business Administration.
"Often what we have to do is encourage women and build their self-esteem," Conner said in a phone interview. "Because many times things do not happen the way it would for many entrepreneurs who may be connected to resources in their families where they may have an injection with cash to help them start a great idea."
"What we see are women who don't have those connections," she said. Conner says they try to introduce women entrepreneurs with local investors to connect them with funding.
Conner points to the City of Austin's Small & Minority Business Resources Department, which helps women and minorities bid for city contracts.
The Small Business Administration announced in the fall that it will launch a similar program at the federal level in early 2011. MITechNews.com says it's part of the Obama administration's goal of ensuring five percent of federal contracting dollars go to women-owned businesses.