Last week President Obama appointed Donna James chairwoman of the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). Prior to this appointment, James served as managing director of Columbus consulting firm Lardon and Associates LLC. Before this she worked for 25 years as an executive at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. As chairwoman of the Council, she will work toward empowering female entrepreneurs. Currently the council advocates for the more than 10 million women-owned businesses in the nation.
James´s term will be for three years. She is the first permanent appointee to the slot under the Obama administration.
Business coach Dr. Anita Davis-DeFoe, says the appointment of James bodes well for women-owned businesses. "I believe the appointment of Donna James signals a heightened commitment to formulating sustainable business strategies and equipping more women with tools that can help them start viable enterprises. Small business development and microenterprise are critical in today's 21st century knowledge-based economy," says Davis-DeFoe, author of Follow Her Lead: Leadership Lessons For Women As They Journey From the Backroom to the Boardroom. "Helping more women to tap into their entrepreneurial brilliance is a powerful human development tool for women on all levels of the economic spectrum. I think it is significant that she is African-American, as she will bring her unique perspective to the work of the Council, particularly as women of color grow in numbers. And while they may have a dire need to consider business creation, too often access to information and a pathway to execute their business concepts are not readily available."
According to Davis-Dafoe, "All the current research and trends point to women as an emerging powerhouse relative to business creation, now and in the years to come. While women create roughly 16% of all new business now, it is projected that this will escalate to about 34%, as women are creating and sustaining businesses faster than men. The issue is to get more women to understand that this is a doable potential stream of income, even it they opt to keep their day job. Every woman has a gift and skill that can be monetized if she is taught how, and this, hopefully, is one of the issues that the Council will focus on in the months to come."
In fact - according to the Council´s stats - as of 2008, there were an estimated 10.1 million privately held businesses in which women owned at least 50% of the companies. And, among them, 7.2 million were majority-owned (51% or more). Also as of 2008, there were an estimated 1.9 million privately held firms that were majority-owned by women of color, making up more than a quarter (26.5%) of all majority women-owned businesses. These firms employed nearly 1.2 million people and generated more than $165 billion in revenues. Additionally, more than one-third of all self-employed individuals were women (3.5 million).
A bi-partisan federal advisory council, the NWBC was created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. The Council's mission is to promote bold initiatives, policies, and programs designed to support women's business enterprises at all stages of development in the public and private sector marketplaces -- from start-ups to major corporations.