2022: The Year of Resilience and Innovation for Women Entrepreneurs

with Candace Waterman of Women Impacting Public Policy

Women entrepreneurs have historically faced unique challenges in starting and running businesses, and the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened those inequities.

Candace Waterman, President and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy, joins host Tetiana Anderson to discuss efforts to help women business owners recover and remain resilient in times of crisis and beyond.

Posted on:

February 28, 2022

Hosted by: Tetiana Anderson
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Anderson: Women entrepreneurs have historically faced challenges in starting and running businesses, including lack of access to capital, resources, and access to professional development. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made these obstacles worse. So how can women-owned businesses recover? Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. Before the pandemic, women were the fastest-growing segment of small-business owners in the country, but COVID-19 has slowed this progress. And joining me to discuss efforts to empower women entrepreneurs to be resilient in times of crisis and beyond is Candace Waterman, president and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy. And, Candace, thanks so much for being here.

Waterman: Thank you so much for having me today, Tetiana. I appreciate it.

Anderson: So, we know that COVID sort of created this whole new era for absolutely everybody, but what are some of the biggest challenges for women-owned businesses and how well would you say that they were able to sort of pivot and stay on course?

Waterman: I think to say that COVID was a total disruption to our system would be an understatement. I think there are a couple of things that we have to think through as we talk about women business owners during this time. The first is, women in the workforce dropped to 57%, which was the lowest since 1988. The other is, 4 in every 10 businesses closed during 2020. Women business owners have had to think outside of the box from a pivot perspective to stay in business during this time.

Anderson: And what about all those missed opportunities when it comes to COVID resources for women businesses? How are you helping to make connections to this whole ecosystem of support that's out there for them?

Waterman: You know, as we talk about missed opportunities, I would have to say access to capital is probably the biggest. And that is because women business owners really suffer from what I call application anxiety. They count themselves out before they even apply for funding. And then when they do apply for funding, they ask for about $35,000 less than male-owned companies. So as we talk about what resources can be provided to help overcome that hurdle, it's really around education, instilling that the women business owners absolutely do need to apply for funding, but then they need to understand how to show up for that funding, and that is a critical component to their sustainability.

Anderson: And what about those women who were able to pivot, were able to stay on course? Can you give us an example?

Waterman: We have quite a few success stories, thankfully, one of which is with Rebecca Boenigk of Neutral Posture. She has one of the largest women-owned manufacturing companies in the country. She was able to pivot during this time and provide PPE to many of the corporations, institutions, and organizations that needed it through the pandemic.

Anderson: How concerned, really, though, should these women-led businesses be about this sort of long-term effect of disruption to the whole economy, you know, disruption to the supply chain, that all of us have faced as a result of COVID?

Waterman: Absolutely. I would say this is going to be the year of resiliency, and it has to be the year of resiliency and innovation. You know, our women business owners really need access to capital and access to contracts. Access to capital is going to get them over the hurdle, but access to contracts is really going to affect their sustainability, it's going to affect the teams that they employ. And then it's going to affect the communities that their teams live in.

Anderson: And what about the future? What are the solutions that your team really is proposing to ensure the economic health, the economic viability of these women-owned companies?

Waterman: Well, our organization is all about making the connections, the connections to those resources. So what can we do? Get funds in the hands of these women business owners and certainly get contracts within their businesses, as well. Those two things will, I think, change the face of what is going on in business from a women's business perspective.

Anderson: And, Candace, I know that people are going to want to know more, so where can they go? What's your organization's website?

Waterman: Our website is wipp.org. That's wipp.org. And they can look to us to provide what we summarize as our ACE principle. That's Advocacy, Community, and Education.

Anderson: Candace Waterman of Women Impacting Public Policy. Thank you so much for being here.

Waterman: Thank you again for having us and thank you again for all of the work that you do.

Anderson: And thanks to our viewers, as well, for joining. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, just log on to comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.

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