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Opportunities for women business owners on the rise

Small business is the backbone of a growing economy. You hear these words, or similar phrases, more frequently since the economic downturn began some eighteen plus months ago. Entrepreneurship appears to be on the rise, either by choice or force. Those displaced by the dwindling economy and rising unemployment rates, along with those interested in pursuing their hobbies and interests full-time are seeking opportunities to become their own boss. And the timing appears right for those aspiring entrepreneurs, especially for women.

The Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development reports that since 2000, over $626 million in contract dollars were awarded to minority and women-owned businesses. A proposed new regulation by the SBA would allow federal agencies to set aside contracts for women-owned small businesses. If the new regulation takes effect, more than 75,000 women-owned businesses could take advantage of the ruling. 

The value and importance of women in business is taking shape through increased federal and local legislation, and in the rise in training and networking opportunities specifically for female entrepreneurs. Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore (WEB) formed in 1989, was created to help build strong businesses that lift women and their communities. They continue to provide training to aspiring business owners, proclaiming 90% of their graduates start businesses. WEB is hosting a free program on small business basics on March 31st at the Federal Hill Training Facility.  

Recognition of women-owned businesses and their positive impact on our future as a whole is also taking the stage. The MultiNational Development of Women in Technology, Inc. (MDWIT) is a global center of excellence for promoting women in technology. Their annual conference, scheduled for April 29th in Columbia, Maryland is geared toward helping participants achieve entrepreneurial success, increased workplace performance, and educational strategies in technological professions.  
Even major universities are developing or expanding programs that focus on female entrepreneurs. The University of Maryland Baltimore County is the lead institution for the ACTiVATE program, which has become a model for several other US-based collegiate institutions, and has produced some award winning business owners with its year-long training program. 
SCORE reports the number of women-owned firms continues to grow at twice the rate of all US firms. They also report the greatest challenge for women owners is access to capital, credit and equity. Take advantage of the many opportunities available to network and learn to overcome these obstacles. It looks like there's never been a better time to start a new business venture ladies. 
For more info: To learn more about WEB, visit their site here. To learn more about MDWIT and their annual conference, click here. To learn more about ACTiVATE, click here.

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