Women Entrepreneurship Day is observed every year on November 19 to honor female entrepreneurs and to discuss their contributions to the entrepreneurial community. Did you know that the first female-owned business in the U.S. was established in 1739? Despite the advances made by women entrepreneurs since the Industrial Revolution, gender barriers, societal pressure, access to funding and mentorship, and lack of education still constrain their growth. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is organized by the WEDO (Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization) and recognized by the United Nations and over 120 countries. On Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, pioneering women in various fields are given the WEDO Pioneer Awards.
History of Women Entrepreneurship Day
Women have been involved in entrepreneurial ventures for centuries, but they were not considered entrepreneurs because the term was exclusive to men. During the 18th and 19th centuries, most businesses owned by women were either from inheritance or supplemented personal income.
Eliza Lucas Pinckney of South Carolina was one woman who became a business leader through inheritance. She took over her family’s plantations when she was 16 years old, becoming the first female recorded to own a business in the U.S. Women began owning brothels, alehouses, taverns, and retail shops around the same time. However, because of the societal perception of what a woman should and should not do, these businesses were considered shameful. In the 1900s, public perception shifted toward the progressive, and feminism became a widely accepted movement. This allowed people to refer to women in business as female entrepreneurs. Black women became the most enterprising women in the U.S. during the early 20th Century. They established themselves in dressmaking, Black hair care, private home domestic work, and midwifery. Madam C. J. Walker, the first African American female millionaire, was one of the most successful women of this era. Various organizations launched in the United States were founded in the late 1980s and 1990s to provide education and financing to female entrepreneurs. Among these are the Women’s Business Development Center and Count Me In. But none of this was enough to put women entrepreneurs on an equal footing with their male counterparts. Since 2000, there has been an increase in support and attention for female entrepreneurs, and female-owned businesses now have more access to financing than ever before.
After returning to the U.S. in 2013 from volunteering with the Adelante Foundation in Honduras, Wendy Diamond started an initiative to empower women in business. This initiative became the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO). On November 19, 2014, WEDO celebrated the first Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in the U.S. and over 140 countries. Since then, New York City and Los Angeles have declared it an official day, the U.S. House of Representatives has recognized it, and the United Nations celebrated it.
Women Entrepreneurship Day timeline
Eliza Lucas Pinckney takes over her family's plantations in South Carolina, becoming the first female to own a business in the U.S.
Public perception becomes more progressive, and acceptance of the term “female entrepreneurs” grew.
Wendy Diamond launches Women Entrepreneurship Day Organization (W.E.D.O.) in the U.S.
The first Women Entrepreneurship Day is held in New York City, at the United Nations.
Women Entrepreneurship Day FAQs
When was the first Women's Entrepreneurship Day held?
It was held in 2014 at the United Nations.
Who was the first self-made millionaire woman entrepreneur?
Many schools of thought in the U.S. consider Madam C. J. Walker as America’s first female self-made millionaire, woman entrepreneur.
Who is the richest female entrepreneur?
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the chairperson of L’Oreal cosmetics, has been given that title.
How to Observe Women Entrepreneurship Day
Appreciate women entrepreneurs
Women entrepreneurs go through a lot just to launch their business and keep it running. If you know any women entrepreneurs, use this Women’s Entrepreneurship Day to congratulate them personally or through social media.
Support female-owned businesses
Patronize their businesses or stores and promote them on social media. You could also choose to invest in their companies, donate, or mentor aspiring female entrepreneurs.
Launch your business
If you are a woman with a good business idea, you can use the publicity provided by Women’s Entrepreneurship Day to kick-start your venture. Before launching it, ensure you have everything in place, including a business plan and model and a go-to-market strategy.
5 Facts About Women-owned Businesses
Thousands of new businesses every day
Women launch over 1,200 new businesses in the U.S. every day.
Growing global population of female-owned businesses
Women own about 36% of small businesses globally.
The land of female entrepreneurs
Women own 46.4% of private businesses in Ghana, the highest rate in the world.
Female entrepreneurs are slightly older
Female entrepreneurs are usually between the ages of 40 and 59.
The numbers in the U.S.
Women own 12.3 million businesses in the U.S., accounting for 42% of all businesses.
Why Women Entrepreneurship Day is Important
It celebrates women entrepreneurs
In this male-dominated world, women must overcome challenges and obstacles daily to ensure the survival and growth of their businesses. Today we appreciate these women for their efforts and contribution to the nation's economy.
Women's Entrepreneurship Day promotes women in businesses
W.E.D.O. has various programs to empower and encourage more women to start businesses. We can lend our support to such an important initiative.
It puts the spotlight on female entrepreneurs
WEDO hosts the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO) Pioneer Awards. This award recognizes female leaders and trailblazers in various business and life categories.
Women Entrepreneurship Day dates