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Women starting small businesses at torrid pace

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 15, 2014 at 2:46 pm •  Published: May 15, 2014
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NEW YORK (AP) — If you go to work for a newer business, there's a good chance you'll be working for a woman.

Women are starting companies at a torrid pace. Between 1997 and 2014, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. rose by 68 percent, twice the growth rate for men and nearly one and a-half times the rate for all companies, according to an American Express analysis of Census Bureau figures. They are starting an estimated 1,288 companies each day, up from 602 in 2011-12, American Express says.

"Women are becoming more aware of the opportunities for entrepreneurship in their lives. It's becoming more of an option for a career move than it ever has been in the past," says Susan Duffy, executive director of the Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College.

The number of new businesses started by women and men has increased in part because of the difficult job market since the recession. But the numbers of women business owners will keep rising as interest in entrepreneurship grows and younger women look to famous women as their role models, Duffy says.

Some of those inspirations: Oprah Winfrey, designers Tory Burch and Diane Von Furstenberg and Weili Dai, co-founder of chip maker Marvell Technology. The current head of the Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet, and her predecessor, Karen Mills, have both been business owners.

"More women are seeing themselves out there in their heroes in the business world. They're saying, this is fabulous, I want to be like her," Duffy says.

Their role models also include less prominent successful women in business.

One of Summer Scarbrough's inspirations has been her mother, Elizabeth, a former executive with a medical devices company. The Scarbroughs own VinniBag, a seller of travel bags for wine and other bottles.

"I knew from a very young age that she was one of the only women in her company at that level," says Scarbrough, whose five-year-old company is based in Ventura, California.

Being a woman business owner is no longer as novel or unusual as it was decades ago.

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