Nearly one thousand women gathered together in Bethesda, Md. on Sept. 7 to celebrate the third annual Power Conference: Women Doing Business. Hosted by the Women’s Business Consortium, the Power Conference focuses on bringing together women to network, educate, and effectively develop women-owned businesses.

“We consider it a one stop shop for business owners. From booksellers to networking- this is for business women across the board whether they’re CEOs or interested in starting a business,” said keynote speaker of the Power Conference luncheon, Mikki Taylor. “So often we talk about women as survivors, we want to have the conversation of women as thrivers,” says Taylor, editor at large of Essence Magazine and author of two books.

Boasting nearly 100 exhibitors and 40 workshops to build businesses and opportunities for entrepreneurs, the Power Conference also featured book signings that highlighted 20 local authors. In addition to bringing in authors, the Power Conference also gave attendees access to top professionals in fields such as web design and publicity, education, and healthcare.

According to the most recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2007 women owned 28.8 percent of all companies in the country. “For so long women have helped Fortune 500 companies at all levels. We have increased revenue and diversity. Now it’s time for us to develop our own businesses and take charge,” said Taylor.

Even with the economy taking major hits, women-owned businesses have received major funding over the last few years. In 2009, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reported contributing $2 billion of the fiscal budget to women-owned businesses, while also giving over $3 billion of SBA Recovery Act funds to the same cause.

For women looking to start their own businesses, there are a plethora of organizations that not only give guidance, but funding as well. With 99.7 percent of all companies in the nation being small businesses, special bonds, grants, loans from the federal government are available to firms operated at least at 51 percent by women.

Recent initiatives such as the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act by the SBA encourage business growth by offering well over $200,000 grants to disadvantaged and low-income entrepreneurs. “In the midst of the economic downturn the country has been experiencing, SBA’s PRIME grants are an increasingly important tool in our toolbox to help small businesses,” said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills.

While the conference focuses on women, the event has been so succesful that men make up 20 percent of the attendance. With the past three conferences selling out, the Power Conference has been in higher demand each and every year.

For more information visit www.thepowerconference.com. Mikki Taylor also encourages all tweeters to connect with her at twitter.com/IAmMikkiTaylor.

 

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer