The number of women-owned businesses in the United States grew by 20 per cent between 1997 and 2002, twice the national average for all businesses, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The analysis of business ownership revealed that women owned nearly one in three non-farm businesses in the United States in 2002 – some 6.5 million in total.
They also generated more than $940 billion in revenue, an increase of 15 per cent on 1997.
The 2002 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) defines women-owned businesses as privately held firms in which women own 51 per cent or more of the interest or stock of the business.
But while 14 per cent of women-owned firms employed more than 7.1 million people, the vast majority of businesses owned by women (nearly 5.6 million) were one-woman bands that had no employees.
At the other end of the scale, 117,069 women-owned firms turned over $1 million or more, while 7,240 women-owned firms had 100 employees or more, generating $275 billion in gross receipts.
The figures also revealed that almost one in three women-owned firms operated in health care and social assistance, and other services, such as personal services, and repair and maintenance.
Overall, women owned almost three quarters (72 per cent) of all social assistance businesses in the U.S. and just over half of nursing and residential care facilities.
States with the fastest rates of growth for women-owned firms between 1997 and 2002 were Nevada (43 per cent), Georgia (35 per cent), Florida (29 per cent) and New York (28 per cent). In addition to the nearly 6.5 million majority women-owned firms, there were almost 2.7 million equally male/female-owned firms with $731.4 billion in receipts.