Hartford Area Ranked 4th in U.S. for Female Entrepreneurs

The Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford metropolitan area is the fourth best region in the nation for female entrepreneurs, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Data.

The study, by the financial firm Seek Business Capital, used the U.S. Census Bureau American Survey of Entrepreneurs to determine which U.S. cities have the most female entrepreneurs and which industries are most likely to have female entrepreneurs. The top five, according to the analysis, are St. Louis, Austin, Providence, Hartford, and San Diego, followed by Indianapolis, Kansas City, Washington DC, Salt Lake City and Baltimore.

[For the purpose of the analysis, the term “startup” is defined as any firm that is less than two years old. Business ownership is defined as having 51 percent or more of the stock or equity in the business. Equally male-/female-owned firms are not included in the female-owned firm counts.]


Nationwide, the total number of female-owned firms was 1,118,863, based on 2016 data, which reflected a 23 percent increase from the 909,661 in 2007. That’s compared to a 6.3 percent increase in male-owned firms. Similarly, the number of paid employees at female-owned firms rose from 7.5 million to 9.3 million over the same time period, a 24 percent gain. Looking specifically at startup businesses, women-owned firms employ more than half of a million people and generate more than $56 billion in revenue annually, the analysis noted.

The data highlights for Hartford include:

  • Percentage of startups that are female-owned: 30.8%

  • Number of female-owned startups: 498

  • Employees at female-owned startups: 3,547 (out of 10,130 at all startups)

  • Gross sales/receipts of female-owned startups: $150-$500 million

“Women own 30% of small businesses, but receive just 7% of Venture Capital funding,” commented Sarah Bodley, Managing Director of Hartford-based reSET Social Enterprise Trust. “It's still really hard to access capital, and women face unique barriers because there are plenty of people who still don't see us as viable competition, or worthy of investment. Considering this disparity, it's heartening to see women leading entrepreneurship in Hartford.”

Jessica Morin, Marketing Manager at Upward Hartford, noted that “Our founder, Shana Schlossberg, is a serial entrepreneur in technology, media, and most recently, real estate, industries; our internal staff includes female founders; and our member base includes female entrepreneurs across design, non-profit, and consulting fields.”

At a national level, the highest percentage of women-owned startups are in healthcare, as well as educational services, while agriculture and construction have the lowest percentages, according to the data. In the healthcare and social assistance sector, there’s roughly an even split between male- and female-owned startups; the educational services sector hosts nearly equal numbers of male and female new businesses.

Morin added that “our ‘She Means Business’ discussion series was born of the need for ‘SHE-E-Os’ and lady leaders in the Greater Hartford community to learn and collaborate with one another in an innovative setting. Our ‘Starting Up’ workshop series has attracted women in the early stages of launching architectural firms, technology ventures, marketing agencies, and other entrepreneurial pursuits. Our tagline, ideas start here, applies beyond our 34,000 sq. ft. innovation hub: we believe that ideas start and LAUNCH from here in Hartford.”


Bodley pointed out that “reSET’s strategy has always been to support the nontraditional entrepreneur. About half of the graduates of our Accelerator program over the last six years have been women. They are coming up with really creative solutions like reusable gift wrap that eliminates a major waste stream, or an engineered bike helmet that features built-in directional signals to improve bike safety. Women are innovative by nature, and it's great to see more doors opening.”

Highlighting the uphill climb for many female entrepreneurs, Forbes recently noted, in a column by Sernity Gibbons, that “Fortune reported that a paltry 2.2 percent of venture capital went to female-led startups two years ago. That percentage didn’t change one iota in 2018.”

That article also describes Indra Nooyi, recently named by Governor Lamont as co-chair of the board of the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, as a “contemporary role model for working women; she also plugged away when she could have lost heart. Not only did she rise to the position of PepsiCo CEO (the company’s first female and first foreign-born CEO, as a matter of fact), but she drove the company to focus on healthier food items in line with consumer trends, despite criticism.”

The Press of Atlantic City recently reported that in 2017, American Express commissioned a study on Women Business Owners and found, “As of January 2017, there are an estimated 11.6 million (11,615,600) women-owned businesses in the United States that employ nearly 9 million (8,985,200) people and generate more than $1.7 trillion ($1,663,991,700,000) in revenues.

Over the past 20 years (1997–2017), the number of women-owned businesses has grown 114% compared to the overall national growth rate of 44% for all businesses. Women-owned businesses now account for 39% of all U.S. firms, employ 8% of the total private sector workforce and contribute 4.2% of total business revenues. The combination of women-owned businesses and firms equally-owned by men and women account for 47% of all businesses. These firms employ 14% of the workforce and generate 7% of revenues.”