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Women business owners in ND take on risks to thrive

Submitted Photo An American Express report notes there are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses in the United States. (Adobe Stock photo)

National Entrepreneurship Week runs through Saturday. In North Dakota, outreach continues to ensure women business owners face fewer obstacles in getting their operations off the ground. The Small Business Administration says nearly 43% of businesses around the state are women-owned, and development networks that offer technical support say they’re seeing more women clients.

Christy Dauer, executive director of the North Dakota Women’s Business Center, said that doesn’t mean stereotypes and other traditional barriers haven’t gone away, such as accessing loans, but their own data gathering has revealed some eye-opening information.

“Over 50% of the respondents of our survey leveraged personal savings, and the second highest was credit cards,” she said.

She added other challenges include societal expectations and work-life balance. The center notes women have a strong presence in operating Main Street businesses, and helping them thrive could do a lot to bolster local economies.

But Dauer said women seeking entrepreneurship in North Dakota are shattering stereotypes by not limiting themselves to certain sectors. Instead, they’re forging ahead by leading a variety of businesses.

“Trucking distribution companies that ship our agricultural goods, architects [who] leave a legacy on our prairie, archaeologists,” she continued.

Dauer will travel to Washington D.C. in a couple of weeks to share these stories. Her organization is partly supported by the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, which hasn’t seen a boost in funding. Advocates are calling for what they describe as long-overdue updates so they can expand their outreach networks.

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