The Woman Business Enterprise

Cafe worker

In my forty-three years of working in and around the earth/road construction field, being impressed has not been a regular occurrence! However, when I began working in thearea of supportive services with the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE), and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) community, I’ve been in awe on several occasions. This month we look at woman-owned businesses and what this special group is about–in issues past we’ve reviewed, exposed, and dissected a wide range of topics regarding MBE/DBE community however–full disclosure here–with little focus on our women. Why?

I am guilty of “lumping” this group right in with all small business in an attempt to generalize and stick to our mission of support on the broad view. Not this month! WBE’s are a very different type of business and should be recognized as such for the distinctive set of challenges these owners and operators face each and every day! We can’t ignore the fact that woman have been faced with the “glass ceiling,” sexism, and equality issues simply because of their gender and that’s just in their employment role.

When a woman answers the entrepreneurial call, she now magnifies these issues in the eyes of her peers and is now positioned to engage her competition, mostly men, by a whole different set of rules. She must always be the best she can be, always ready to prove that she “belongs,” and is always the expert in her field. Now, all things being equal, it needs to be said that gender issue is not unique to small business. I’ve been in the company of moderate to large size companies where women head-up projects, represent the owner or, in rare cases, own the company themselves and I have to say…it isn’t much different!

Obviously we as a small state have a long way to go (as does the rest of the country) but we have made progress. In my role in supportive services, I’ve seen woman start-ups do very well in these men dominated markets, although not easy when dealing with some of the stereotypes and bias attitudes, it can be done! As I’ve focused on in prior articles, any change in social thinking rarely is effective within the target generation, it has to be initiated in the prior one. Young women should be shown that there are better and more effective ways to establish themselves in the business market. Young men need to be educated regarding the contribution of all individuals, male or female, as well as how to interact with them.

I’m not attempting to create anything new here, we have amazing organizations dealing with these issues, with great success right here in the Ocean State! As always I offer Rhode Island resources for you; Mission (360) 275-5840, the Center for Women & Enterprise (401) 277-0800, RI Small Business Development Center (401) 598-2702. These are just a few organizations that are willing to get WBE off on the right track through group, one-on-one, and various mentoring models available. As usual, if I can help, my phone is always on –see you on the job site!

Michael Brito
Team Member, Managing the Road Ahead

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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