I recently attended a National Latina Business Women Association (NLBWA) meeting in Los Angeles. As I heard 25 women around the room introduce themselves and the businesses they owned, I couldn’t help but think about the critical role they are going to play in helping the U.S. economy recover.

 In general, women-owned firms contribute $3 trillion annually to the U.S. economy and account for 16% of all jobs. Recent research shows that all women entrepreneurs will create 5 to 5.5 million new jobs across the U.S. by 2018 – more than half of the total new small-business jobs expected to be created during that time, and about one-third of the total new jobs anticipated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

According to the latest Kauffman Firm Survey, Latina-owned businesses, in fact, represent the fastest-growing segment of the women-owned business market. Between 2002 and 2007, their businesses increased by 172 percent. Also, according to a 2009 Corporate Inclusion Index of the Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility (HACR), Latinas are starting businesses at a rate six times the national average. MANA, a Latina organization and a coalition member of HACR, conducted the research.

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So why is there such growth in entrepreneurship among women and especially Latinas? My conversations and consultations with Latinas over the years has taught me that they have been disappointed with corporate America. They aren’t promoted enough, they are misunderstood culturally, and they get paid less than men and non-Hispanic women. Also, since many Latinas put family first, they also feel the stress of having to balance work and family life. For these reasons, many Latinas (and women in general) are starting their own small businesses at unprecedented rates despite the difficult economy.

I also believe that women-owned businesses are going to be best suited for our new economy. The experience I have in consulting entrepreneurs has taught me that women go about running their businesses much differently than their male counterparts. The following are just a couple of reasons why I strongly believe that women will not only build sustainable businesses to help the U.S. economy recover, but also create the life work balance they search for.

• Women focus on building businesses, not just creating jobs for themselves so that they can be available for their family. Women have larger social networks and typically reach out to others for help. Women look to build a business in which they depend on others to help them grow. The secret that women understand is that if they have to be at their business all day long, they don’t own a business, they own a job. Their priority on family is the driving force behind building a growing and sustainable business.

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• Because of the first reason, women look to hire others to help them grow their businesses. They quickly figure out that their business is more than just about their product or service they sell. They realize that the proper growth and care will require attention to other major areas of their business, like technology, sales and marketing, finance, human resources, distribution, etc. The types of networking I witness at women business organizations (like the National Latina Business Women Association) are so different than those run mostly by men. The conversations I hear at the women run organizations are more about participating in each other’s businesses to help them minimize stress and maximize profit.

Women see their sphere of influence to help them grow their businesses from a very different lens. I firmly believe that this lens of cooperation will be a driving factor for job growth opportunities that women will provide for the future of our economy.

Louis Barajas is the first Latino Certified Financial Planner in the United States, Personal Finance Expert, and author of five bestselling books on personal finance and small business, including his most recent book – Small Business, Big Life for Women. For more information, please visit www.louisbarajas.com.

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