In 2018, there were an estimated 12.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. And these women-led businesses are a growing force in the economy—employing 9.2 million people and generating more than $1.8 trillion in revenue.
Despite these impressive numbers, women entrepreneurs face tremendous headwinds. Only 16% of small business loans and 2% of venture capital go to women.
Recognizing the tremendous role women play in the well-being of their families and communities, Bank of the West has taken a lead as the bank for women entrepreneurs. When we help women entrepreneurs build wealth and assets, we contribute to a brighter, sustainable future for families and the cities where we live. Recent programs include:
- WE Source: In 2019, the bank launched an on-line community for women entrepreneurs with big dreams. At We Source, aspiring to growth stage business owners can find local networking events, mentorship, and funding opportunities.
- Grameen America: We’ve teamed up with the fastest-growing microfinance organization in the United States to support $35.8 million in micro-loans to low-income women in New York and California. Over the next 10 years, we’ll help to create over 12,000 new businesses and 21,000 new jobs.
- BNP Paribas Women Entrepreneur Program: In cooperation with our parent company BNP Paribas, we host a week of intensive professional development and networking for participants from around the world. Since 2015, 50 women have benefitted from this program held at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in cooperation with BNP Paribas and the Women Initiative Foundation.
At Bank of the West, we see the power of diversity to do more. We live it, too. In Nandita Bakhshi, we have one of the few female CEOs in the financial services industry, supported by strong representation of women in leadership roles. In fact, nearly 40% of the bank’s top leadership are women. Our inspiration comes from them and from realizing the special role we can play in bridging the business funding gap that too many women face.