The new Women’s Business Accelerator in Columbus is gearing up to help women entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
“It’s the region’s first incubator dedicated to mentoring, educating and guiding women as they explore, launch and build small and micro-businesses,” explains small-business consultant Mary McCarthy, who established the accelerator with small-business attorney Caroline Worley.
“Women business ownership is growing at a tremendous rate, but we still lag behind male-owned businesses,” McCarthy says. “According to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy, women-owned firms trail male-owned firms in such things as annual sales, employment growth and venture survival.”
The SBA specifically reports that the average firm owned by a woman generates only 78 percent of the profit of a comparable business male-owned business. Also, the four-year survival rate of new women-owned firms is 8.6 percent lower than that of comparable new businesses founded by men.
“We want to help close these gaps,” McCarthy states.
The new facility is located in a suburb of Columbus and comprises 16 private offices, 12 cubicles, three conference rooms, a training room and two kitchens. Office space is available for rent on a monthly, semi-annual and annual basis. Mentoring and facilitated roundtables are included in the rent, and members get a discount on the educational tracks. Women not renting space may participate in the facilitated roundtable for a small monthly fee and may take the educational sessions at cost.
McCarthy and Worley are self-funding the incubator but anticipate that rent and educational programs will generate revenue. “We’re also seeking sponsorships and grants,” McCarthy says.