Vermont Women’s Fund Releases New Data on Women’s Business Ownership in Vermont
Women-owned businesses are not new to Vermont’s economy but until now, there was no way to identify them nor calculate their financial impact to the State’s bottom line.
That invisibility is no longer the case, thanks to the Vermont Women’s Fund and its digital platform called This Way UP: there’s power in our numbers—a website and survey that is counting and identifying female-identified business owners—for the first time ever.
Today this report—with findings gathered in the first 13 months of the survey—was presented to the Senate Economic Development Committee. The results represent 2,850 businesses operating all over the state.
“The importance of this data cannot be underscored enough,” says Meg Smith, Director of the Vermont Women’s Fund, “as it is the first granular look into a sector of our economy that until now, was unrecognized.” Smith adds, “This is still far from complete. Our hope is to add several thousand more business owners to the map before it closes in September of this year.” Smith refers to the thiswayupvt.com map which gives a visual representation of the nearly 3,000 businesses the website has collected to date.
The self-reported data collected from 1/1/2022-1/15/23 shows an uptick in the number of new businesses beginning in 2018 and escalating in 2020 through 2023, correlating directly with the pandemic. Smith notes, “If women had to leave the workforce due to COVID, they weren’t idle, they were starting their own businesses to keep an income stream going.”
Other highlights from this data report include:
- 2850 business owners took the survey and they contribute $2.25 billion to Vermont’s economy
- These businesses generate 5,339 full and part-time jobs
- 55% of respondents built their businesses slowly over time – 12.5% got a loan from a bank, credit union or community development organization
Smith observes, “These preliminary findings give us the first true look at how women entrepreneurs operate in a rural economy. We are learning how they have financed their businesses and where they have found help.” She adds, “In order for these young businesses to grow, we now have a direct pipeline to reach them for the first time ever. But we are far from finished—we want every woman business owner to take the This Way UP survey, and increase our understanding.”
Designed to by GameTheory—a Vermont-based, woman-owned company, to be fully transparent, the survey results are calculated in real time and latest data can be accessed online on at thiswayupvt.com under the “See results” tab.
The Vermont Women’s Fund undertook this initiative in 2021 “because no one else was doing this work,” according to Smith. “This is a perfect example of how a philanthropic organization can fill a gap in our cultural, and in this case, economic understanding.” She adds, “Our economic future depends on a diverse and well-supported private sector. We need to help these businesses grow and thrive and This Way UP is just the first step in making this happen.”