In Philadelphia, and across the nation, owning a business remains something of a boys club.
A first-of-its-kind survey from the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday finds that just 17 percent of the businesses in the Delaware Valley are owned by women. The top metropolitan area, Denver, does slightly better at 23 percent.
The survey data also looked into minority-owned firms. Of the more than 109,000 businesses in the region, fewer than 16,000, or 14.5 percent, are owned by minorities.
“It is obvious to see the changes that are occurring in Philadelphia, just walking outside the door, and we want to make sure that that vibrancy and that innovation is reaching every single neighborhood, and every single corner of the city,” said Archna Sahay, the city’s director of entrepreneurial investment.
“If you have the aptitude, and you have the ability, and you have the desire, we have the resources,” Sahay said.
Accessing capital remains one of the biggest challenges for women and minority entrepreneurs, and it’s not a problem easily solved.
“In 2016, there is still unconscious bias and discrimination,” said Geri Swift, president of the Women’s Business Development Center. “People need to understand that and understand what you need to do to try to remedy that.”
Women- and minority-owned businesses are “linchpins” in their neighborhoods, creating employment opportunities for disadvantaged workers, she said.
“It is really important, no matter who I am, no matter what my race, color, religion, or sex, that I have an opportunity to do what I need to do, and what I want to do, and what I have the capacity to do,” Swift said.