The New York City government, under First Lady Chirlane McCray and with the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), is spearheading an initiative called Women Entrepreneurs NYC. This is the first major city in America that is rolling out such a comprehensive program. The initiative is a partnership with Citi, has received endorsement from numerous government officials, and is riding off of support from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses organization.
New York City has decided to focus on women because their economic power is strong and undertapped. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2014 women controlled more than half of all personal wealth, and 73% of total household spending. However, men owned 1.5 times as many business. By fostering the participation of women in the economy as entrepreneurs, the economic gaps will be bridged and disparities lessened.
We commend this initiative, as increasing access to business skills, training, and opportunity to women at all levels of society is important to everyone’s economic success. As Maria Torres-Spring, Commissioner of SBS, says: “Investing in women entrepreneurs is a powerful tool to combat inequality and uplift families and entire communities.”
In the past decade in New York City, women-owned firms grew by 43%, whereas men-owned businesses only grew 25%. “With a population of more than 8 million residents, comprised primarily of women, the City of New York is uniquely positioned to end the gender disparity in entrepreneurship,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo in the WE NYC press release.
Both government and the private sector are needed to combat gender disparity and level the economic playing field. Initiatives like this are one part of women’s success.