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Women-Owned Businesses in Connecticut: A Call to Action 

UP’s founder, Candace Freedenberg, attended the Women’s Business Development Council’s 10th Women-Owned Business Day at the State Capitol in Hartford.

Untapped Potential is one of the 14,000 women-owned businesses in the state of CT contributing over $16B to our state’s gross product. Not only are we trying to make an economic impact, we leverage our position and what we’ve experienced as the barriers to returning women to paid work to amplify the discussion and promote change. Tackling the issues enhances gender equity. Supporting the conversations around family leave, affordable childcare, and pay transparency all support women in work.

Female entrepreneurship, in itself, is one of the best available paths to designing work around your family life in a way that serves both. Flexibility is easier to have when you are the one in charge of making it for yourself.

The day reflected on a history that excluded women from impacting business potential, celebrated the incredible work of the WBDC led by Fran Pasture over the last 20 years, and recognized the power that our collective voice gathered together has to influence our government leaders.

Co-chair State Senator Patricia Billie Miller, emphasized the “Investment we make now for women-owned businesses is a vital for our future.”

Co-chair Senator Heather Somers noted that “It is complex landscape women must navigate daily to meet expectations, yet we juggle that load with grace." She confirmed the great importance to our State. 

Key Issues for Women Entrepreneurs:

  • Access to Capital: This is the number one challenge for women-owned businesses. The Women's Business Development Council (WBDC) offers micro-grants and grant programs can kick-start women’s businesses. Brenda Thicket shared often that first small infusion increases confidence to and the grant process prepares women to seek other financial sources - a snowball affect. Yet, still, less than 2% of venture capital funding went to all-female founding teams in 2021 (PitchBook).

  • Balancing Responsibilities: Women often juggle childcare and family needs alongside running a business. Policies like paid family leave can be a game-changer.

  • Complex Business Landscape: Women navigate a complex business world with outdated expectations. They shouldn't have to choose between being a good mom and a successful entrepreneur.

What Legislators Can Do:

  • Increase Funding for Women-Owned Businesses: WBDC's micro-grant programs show promise. Consider expanding funding and access to capital programs specifically for women-owned businesses.

  • Continue to Support Policies that Help Working Families: Paid family leave and affordable childcare are crucial for women's economic participation.

  • Promote Diversity and Inclusion: Appoint and elect more women, especially women of color, to leadership positions.

  • Listen to Women Entrepreneurs: Women are a powerful economic force. Their stories and experiences should inform policy decisions.

Call to Action:

  • Legislators, need to keep the line item in that supports women entrepreneurship create an environment where women can thrive in business.

  • Women entrepreneurs, your voice matters. Get involved, share your stories, and know your success is the model.

Key takeaways:

  • Legislators on the panel shared that they are ‘in’ this with us and want to hear from us. We were encouraged to stay informed about current legislation through

  • Two women-owned businesses, Shivonne Mathison, Owner, Cura Home Care Services and Alina Gutierrez, Owner, Three Little Bears Child Care, LLC gave testimonials. They were funded by WBDC and showcased their success and meaningful contribution to the state's economy.

  • The importance of solidarity and mentorship among women was emphasized.

Thank you UP community for inspiring us each day to continue moving the needle on gender equity with each person placed, and each opportunity we forge with flexibility. As a proud woman-owned business, it was an honor to be a part of raising awareness and celebrating our collective success today in Hartford!

We encourage women in their #returntowork journey to check out the educational offerings from our local wbdc center....


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