small business

R.I.’s women-owned businesses falling behind

The number of women-run firms in Rhode Island - like Alex and Ani (owner Carolyn Rafaelian is on right) - is on the rise, according to the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.
Posted 3/21/12

NEW YORK – The number of women-run firms in Rhode Island is on the rise, although their economic clout is waning, according to the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report prepared for American Express OPEN by Womenable, an Empire, Mich.-based research, policy and a women-owned business advocacy organization.

The Ocean State has roughly 27,900 women-owned businesses, which employ 21,000 (not including company owners) and generate nearly $3.5 billion in yearly revenue within the state, according to the report.

Since 1997, the number of women-owned businesses has increased 54 percent nationally. Rhode Island ranked No. 31 among the state, with 40.3 percent growth in firms, from 19,866 in 1997 to roughly 27,900 in 2012.

The states with the fastest growth in the number of women-owned businesses were Georgia, with a 95 percent increase, Nevada, with a 92 percent increase, and Texas and Mississippi, each with a 75 percent increase.

The number of Rhode Islanders employed by women-owned firms declined 26.8 percent to 21,000 in 2012 from 28,678 in 1997. This was the worst decline in the country for percentage change of employees.

Rhode Island was ranked No. 47 in growth of firm revenue between 1997 and 2012, at 29.9 percent. The national average revenue from women-owned firms grew 57.7 percent during that 15-year period.

Because of the low revenue growth and the steep decline in employment opportunities by Rhode Island’s women-owned businesses, the Ocean State was ranked No. 48 out of 51 for “Economic Clout,” trailing by Vermont, Ohio and Iowa.

Nationally, the biggest growth in the number of women-owned firms happened in the education services, health care, social assistance, arts and entertainment, and recreation sectors.

For a copy of the report visit,

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