By Victor Ochieng
Running a business as a woman comes with numerous challenges. Several factors that may not be obviously noticeable come into play.
“It’s so easy for a man to go to the bank and they give him a loan. Me, a woman: ‘What do you do?’ ‘Oh, I am a housewife.’ ‘Oh, yeah, really?’ Nobody’s going to give you a loan,” said Anne Segal, a woman entrepreneur.
Segal had moved to the U.S. from Uganda 25 years ago to go start a new life. She got a corporate job, but later quit to take care of her family. Later on, she decided to try her hand in business, choosing to buy an ice cream shop in Laurel, Maryland.
“As a woman, who would have thought? I come from Africa. I wouldn’t have thought I would start a business in America,” Segal said one morning while opening her Sweets and Treats Creamery.
As a woman, and particularly as a housewife, it was a challenge for her to secure funds to pump into her business. She’d to use her family savings to give life to her business.
Segal isn’t the only woman facing such challenges.
U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce CEO Margot Dorfman says statistics confirm numerous challenges faced by women entrepreneurs.
To demonstrate just how dire the situation is, 36% of all U.S. companies are owned by women yet they account for a mere 4% of all U.S. annual revenues.
According to a 2015 chamber report, entitled “Wake Up Call,” 70% of women-owned businesses generate less than $25,000 a year. Only 1.7% of women-owned companies generate revenues of more than $1 million, with a mere 10% having paid workers.
“We have been undervalued for decades now, the fact that we still don’t have fair pay. We have to leave corporate America to start our own businesses to maybe get fair pay and a family-friendly work environment, and still struggle when we have gotten into the marketplace,” Dorfman said during an interview.
Such are the reasons why women in business are weighing in on the 2016 elections.
Dorfman says the best presidential candidate to address the situation, according to her organization, is Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“She is committed to making sure that small businesses have access to capital and access to markets and is very interested in the access to affordable health care,” she said.
A recent CNN survey found out that 60% of American women would vote for Clinton if the battle for the top seat narrowed down to her vs Republican Donald Trump.
Segal on her end says she’s focusing her decision on the economy. Although she voted for Barack Obama, she reveals that the Obama administration disappointed and so she’s looking the other side.
“This time I am going to [vote] for someone who has created a job, who is Trump. He has created a job. He is employing people. When it comes to the economy, at least he knows better than the other guys running around telling us what to do.”
Regardless of the direction women votes go, Segal believes that American women should come out in their numbers and make their voice heard come November.