Despite the frequent interchangeability of phrases like “women-owned” and “female-founded,” the two terms aren’t always related — a female-founded brand might not be owned by a woman anymore and a presently-women-owned business might not have been founded by a woman. During social-minded instances like International Women’s Day, understanding what each label denotes could mean the difference between supporting a brand that’s actually run by women, or one that happens to have women working within it, for example Proactiv was founded by two female dermatologists is now owned by Nestlé.
47 percent of female business owners consider their company’s overall outlook as ‘good,’ compared to 62 percent of men polled.
So what’s the difference? Female-founded means that a business was created by a woman or women, according to a spokesperson for nonprofit Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), which certifies women-owned businesses in the United States after they meet a set of eligibility standards, like a woman heading up the day-to-day operations of a company. But when it comes to women-owned businesses, things can get trickier. The Department of Defense, for example, defines a women-owned business as one wherein at least 51 percent is owned and operated by a woman or by women — that is, a women-owned business can have male co-owners, as long as they don’t make up the majority of ownership.
The Small Business Administration (SBA), which is designed to support small businesses no matter who owns them, uses the 51-percent requirement when brands apply to its Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program, which offers government contracts for small businesses. These "set-asides" were implemented to help guarantee at least 5 percent of federal contracting budgets involve women-owned businesses. In 2019, the SBA noted that women-owned small businesses received $26 billion of eligible contracting dollars, equating to more than 134,500 jobs.
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