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Special section: How to create and sustain more women-led businesses

Published on 27th April 2018

THE ASSIGNMENT: This four-story section from 2018 highlights some of the unique challenges facing women entrepreneurs.  

THE LEAD: It is, in one sense, a golden era for female entrepreneurs in America: There are 11.6 million women-owned businesses nationwide, or nearly 40 percent of all companies. The 114 percent increase in women-owned businesses over the last two decades far outpaces the overall growth rate of 44 percent, according to a 2017 American Express report.

But for women hoping to build those businesses into behemoths, the data is far more challenging. Women-owned businesses account for only 4.2 percent of revenue and 8 percent of employment, according to the report. There's a corresponding gap in funding, where women-led businesses accounted for less than 5 percent of venture-capital deals in 2016—and just 2 percent of venture-capital dollars—according to Pitchbook data.