11 facts about women-run businesses that prove the future really is female.

The New York Times made headlines a few years ago with a shocking statistic: Among CEOs of big U.S. companies, there were more men named John than there were women ... period.

In 2017, female executives are still rare — too rare. Though we like to think we've come a long way since "Mad Men"-era sexism in the workplace, studies like these remind us that in many ways, the glass ceiling is still firmly in place for female business owners and executives. And it's not just the Fortune 500 that has an equality problem; companies of every size still suffer a serious lack of female leadership. Among corporations and small businesses alike, women make up just a small percentage of executives and owners. But increasingly, women who've experienced professional roadblocks in the corporate world are leaving to do things their way, by starting businesses of their own.

Danielle Vogel is one woman who’s helping to break the glass ceiling of small business.

She knows just how many obstacles women encounter in businesses of every size because she's encountered them all herself. Vogel left behind a 10-year career on Capitol Hill and put everything she had into her entrepreneurial pursuits — and it paid off. Today she's the sole owner of Glen's Garden Market, a locally-sourced independent grocery store.


We headed down to the market to talk to her firsthand about life as a female entrepreneur:

People are constantly surprised that this grocery is run by a woman. Female business leaders being treated as equals is long overdue.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Even after achieving success, Vogel still encounters people who can't comprehend that she's the full-time CEO of an independent grocery store that employs 95 people.

Why? "Because it's an extremely atypical thing for a woman to do," she says.

The good news is that women like Vogel are helping pave the way for many more women to own and run businesses. Here are 11 encouraging signs that the future — of business, anyway — really is female.

1. Business isn't a boys' club anymore — and young female entrepreneurs are succeeding because of it.

One reason men have historically had more small-business success is that they could tap into an existing network of other male entrepreneurs. Thankfully, the balance is beginning to shift: There are now more than 9.9 million firms in the United States owned by women.

Photo via iStock.

2. Today's female entrepreneurs have access to a growing population of mentors.

When it comes to mentoring women, men may exhibit "Reluctant Male Syndrome" — an amalgam of implicit biases that prevent them from forming professional relationships with the opposite sex. Now that we're seeing an increase in female leadership, we're also seeing an increase in young women who benefit from it.

Vogel is already contributing to the effort. “We’ve launched 65 local food businesses,” she says in the video. “35 are owned by women.”

3. Women-owned businesses are growing five times faster than the national average.

According to Womenable’s 2016 “State of Women-Owned Businesses in the U.S.” report, the number of women-owned firms has increased by 45% since 2007, while the overall national increase remained at just 9%.

4. And, internationally, women make up approximately one-third of all entrepreneurs worldwide.

Photo via iStock.

5. African-American women have become the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States.

Their numbers grew 322% between 1997 and 2015. #BlackGirlMagic pulls a serious profit!

6. An estimated 340,000 jobs were created by businesses owned by women between 2007 and 2015.

During that same time period, the number of jobs at companies not owned by women actually shrank.

7. Nearly 7.9 million people are employed by U.S. businesses that are owned by women.

Just one of many benefits that we all enjoy when more women are given the space to succeed in business.

8. Women entrepreneurs in the U.S. rank their own happiness at nearly three times that of women who are not entrepreneurs or business owners.

Any path a woman chooses can be rewarding — be it family life, a traditional career, or something else altogether. But with business ownership looking increasingly appealing, we can expect that more women will choose an entrepreneurial path.

via iStock.

9. In 2015, 18% of all startups had at least one female founder.

That's an astronomical number compared to the Fortune 500, where only 4% of CEOs are women.

10. Women are better at writing crowdsourcing campaigns — and they raise more money because of it.

In traditional face-to-face fundraising scenarios, women have a much more difficult time getting investors than men do — and that's been a major obstacle to entrepreneurship for women. The arrival of platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo has cleared the way for some businesses that otherwise might not have gotten off the ground.

11. Women start companies with an average of 50% less capital than men do. So some cities and states are sponsoring resources to provide women with more access to investment capital.

Nashville, Chattanooga, and Memphis, Tennessee, appear at the top of WalletHub's list of friendliest cities for female entrepreneurs, thanks in part to the large number of resources they make available to them. But they're not alone — lots of cities in the U.S. offer entrepreneurship grants and programs for women, and some even have dedicated business centers for women to work and network.

via iStock.

All around the world, more and more smart businesspeople are investing in female entrepreneurs.

There are now grants, programs, and accelerators dedicated to helping women access resources that historically were only available to men.

Many of those programs are supported by female CEOs, like Vogel, who feel strongly that it's important to help other women reach the success that they've had themselves. And that's great news for everyone else: With all of the jobs, revenue, and innovation that women bring to the corporate sphere, everyone benefits from a world with more women at the helm.

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Brian Olesen never imagined he would end up homeless.

The former U.S. Air Force medic had led a full and active life, complete with a long career in the medical field, a 20-year marriage, and a love of anything aquatic. But after hip surgery and chronic back pain left him disabled in 2013, he lost his ability to work. Due to changes in eligibility requirements, he couldn't qualify for federal veteran housing programs. His back issues were difficult to prove medically, so he didn't qualify for disability. Though he'd worked his whole life, having no income for five years took its toll. He got evicted from a couple of apartments and found himself living on the streets.

But in 2018, two things completely turned Olesen's life around. He was able to both qualify for disability and to move into an affordable housing community in Miami's Goulds neighborhood called Karis Village.

When people think of affordable housing, they don't usually picture a place like Karis Village. The 88-unit development is brand new, and built with an attention to design that is not always expected for developments that serve as home to people on limited incomes. The apartments have tile floors, marble countertops, and all new appliances and furniture, and the grounds are beautiful and well-kept, with a playground and common areas for residents to gather.

Brian Olesen in his kitchen at Karis VillageCapital One

Karis Village isn't just a housing development; it's a home and a community. Half of the units are set aside for veterans who have experienced homelessness, like Olesen. The other half are largely occupied by single-parent families.

"To me, this building was just a gift," says Olesen. "All of the different parties that got together to put this building together… making half the building available to veterans. We've got no place to go."

Addressing veteran homelessness was one of the goals of Karis Village, which was built through a partnership that included Carrfour Supportive Housing — a mission-driven, not-for-profit affordable housing organization in southern Florida — and Capital One's Community Finance team. More than just an affordable place to live, the community has full-time staff on hand to help coordinate services—from addiction recovery programs to transportation options to job search and placement. Also included are peer counselors who provide emotional and psychological support for residents.

Karis Village, an affordable housing community in Miami, Florida.Capital One

Carrfour President and CEO Stephanie Berman says the core function of the services team on site is to build a supportive community.

"Often when you think of folks leaving homelessness and coming into housing, you think of shelters or some kind of traditional housing," she says. "You don't really think about a community, and that's really what we build and what we operate. What we're really striving to create is community. We find that our families thrive when you create a sense of community."

The intention to create a supportive community at Karis Village was a priority from the get go. Fabian Ramirez, a Capital Officer on Capital One's Community Finance team, says the bank did a listening tour in southern Florida to explore community development and affordable housing options in the area and to hear what was most needed. After deciding to partner with Carrfour, the bank provided not only an $8 million construction loan and a $25 million low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) investment to help build Karis Village, but it also kicked in a $250,000 social purpose grant to help fund the social support services that would be put in place for residents.

"It's not just all about providing the brick and mortar," says Ramirez. "It's about being able to contribute to the sustainability of the development and of the lives of the people who move into the building."


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Olesen says he and his fellow residents benefit greatly from the network of support services offered in the building. He says a counselor comes to meet with him once a month, sometimes right in his apartment. He also gets help maintaining a connection with the Veteran Affairs office. Other services include social workers and counselors for drug addiction and alcoholism.

Olesen loves being around other veterans, and he says hearing the sound of children playing keeps the community lively. He says anywhere else he could afford to live on disability wouldn't be nearly as nice and would likely involve shared kitchens and bathrooms and neighborhoods you wouldn't want to go out in at night.

If it weren't for Karis Village, Olesen says he doesn't know where he would be today: "I had nowhere to go and this is a safe, beautiful place to spend my retirement."

"I don't think they could have done a much better job of putting this place together and supplying us with what we need," he says. "I have so much appreciation for the ability to have a place to live. And then you add to that that it's beautiful and completely furnished and you didn't need to bring anything—I don't know what more you could ask for."

Karis Village and another development for veterans built the same year enabled the neighborhood of Goulds to meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to declare an end to veteran homelessness in the area.

Ending veteran homelessness altogether is a complex task, but communities like Karis Village show how it can be done—and done well. When government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporate funding programs come together to solve big problems, big solutions can be built and maintained.

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