Women Empowered’s program supports local businesses with a physical and digital hub of support and development.
Women Empowered, a program of 1628 Ltd., was founded in January 2020 and is dedicated to being the area’s premier inclusive leadership initiative that empowers women-identifying entrepreneurs and self-starters by creating a thriving community of mentorship, professional development, and support in a centralized physical and digital hub. Through coworking, workshops, and networking, Women Empowered meets the needs of women-owned businesses by reducing barriers to critical overhead support and access to necessary professional development curriculum–ultimately reducing barriers to education and capital—growing Cincinnati’s business community through the power of working together.
In 2020, WE focused on cultivating a community of like-minded women. Through strategic partnerships with various organizations in the Cincinnati region, WE enlisted support of over 30 mentors and facilitators to support its tri-monthly workshop program, and worked to develop a network with over 300 participating women-owned businesses building a thriving community of support.
By providing a support structure of workspace, educational programming, mentoring, and networking, Women Empowered is leaning-in to what the region and women-owned businesses are seeking most and which will help stabilize and support their businesses leading to visible economic growth, stability, and development in their sector.
Why did 1628 Ltd feel the need to establish Women Empowered?
Women-owned businesses account for 42% of all American businesses, increasing 21% between 2014-2019, with women of color accounting for 50% of all women-owned business, growing their businesses by 43% or 4.5x in comparison to all business which only increased 9% in this time period (American Express, State of Women-Owned Business, 2019). It was also reported that Ohio ranked 8th in the number of women-owned businesses, with Cincinnati ranking 39th (of 50 cities) in overall economic clout—indicating room for improvement in advancement in our region when compared to other cities like Cleveland (#10), Columbus (#27), Detroit, MI (#1), Indianapolis, IN (#13), and Richmond, VA (#11).
However, the recent pandemic of COVID-19 has had a significant impact altogether on women, especially women of color, and by July 2020, 47% of women-owned businesses ranked the overall health of their company as good (down 13%) compared to 67% of male-owned businesses. While it has yet to be reported on how many women-owned businesses have been forced to shutter, what is known is that their overall business health is down, they have not been increasing staff or making investments, and they have not projected revenue increases. (USA Chamber, 2020)
Reports pre-pandemic list access to resources, education and training, and capital were key components of supporting women-owned businesses and an area for vast improvement. Without critical support being infused into this sector of small business, the recovery period for women-owned businesses will be greater and may never fully recover to pre-2020 levels. This is especially critical for the top three industry sectors for women-owned businesses: Administrative, Support & Waste Management Services, Professional/Scientific/Technical Services, and Health Care & Social Assistance.