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Five ways to support women entrepreneurs in Charleston
DYK that many of the businesses in Charleston are founded + owned by women? Today, we’re hearing from Melissa Barker– founder of Women Entrepreneurs of Charleston, on five ways you can support women entrepreneurs in Charleston.
According to the American Express State of Women-Owned Business Report, “over the past 20 years (1997–2017), the number of women-owned businesses has grown 114% compared to the overall national growth rate of 44% for all businesses.”
Sounds hopeful, right?
But here’s the catch: women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men, yet 88% of them never replace their corporate salary. Less than 2% ever reach the million-dollar threshold.
If you want to see more women business owners succeed– and want to help change the statistics– here are five ways you can lend your support:
1. Get connected. You can’t support women entrepreneurs if you don’t even know who’s out there. It’s as easy as browsing WEofC’s list of 100+ members for new contacts or searching the Lowcountry Local First Business Directory for women-owned businesses.
2. Become a mentor. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of mentoring participants in the Harbor Entrepreneur Center’s first all-women owned business accelerator program. Since then, they’ve gained new clients, opened brick-and-mortar spaces, and been accepted into nationally-acclaimed accelerator programs.
Mentorship can often mean the difference between scaling up or closing up. If you’ve got even one extra hour per month, consider sharing your “been there, done that” knowledge with a woman business owner.
3. Provide a platform. Sometimes all we need is a little space. Space to gather, collaborate, work, and grow. If you have a conference room, coffee shop, or event venue, offer to host a women’s event, meetup, or free coworking session. When women entrepreneurs have the opportunity to convene, we make critical connections that can take our businesses to the next level.
4. Attend or help promote events that support women in business. More than connections, and more than inspiration– we need tangible skills to grow profitable businesses.
5. Invest in women. The most tangible way to show your support for women-owned businesses is to spend your money with them. That might mean purchasing products from local, women-owned businesses like Coastal Kelder, AR Workshop, Hemming Birds, or Grey Ghost Bakery, dining at woman-owned restaurants, or making the conscious decision to hire women creatives for your next photography, website, or creative project.
As they say– “a rising tide lifts all ships.” Women entrepreneurs in Charleston would love to have your help making waves.