Behind The Leaf plans to use funds to support female small business owners to scale. By expanding her knowledge around digital tools and software, these business owners would be able to start, grow, scale, build capacity and create more job opportunities. Funds will be used to maintain staff, host events, invite high powered guest speakers, provide transportation, and produce multimedia resources.
Female small business owners account for a small portion of business development in Florida, with a significant difference between minority business women. According to The 2018 State of Women-Owned Business Report, minority women are opening more businesses at a faster rate than any other demographic in Florida. The largest discrepancy being the ability for these businesses to expand their footprint and ultimately offer employment to other able-bodied citizens. Many of the small businesses in this emerging demographic have less than 5 employees. There is a growing disconnect with these women business owners and the resources available to them. Often limited to locations and times that unintentionally prohibit access, women 45 and younger deal with barriers to entry because of the way services are implemented to the public. As more millennials pursue entrepreneurship, there will be a growing need to provide a bridge between providers and beneficiaries.
Behind The Leaf serves this community by providing free workshops and paid conferences to expose women business owners to useful tools readily available to their nonminority and male counterparts. There are many strategies available to female small business owners but the lack of access, in the form of delivery and implementation, has become a common obstacle.
Our experience throughout the past three years has involved hosting over 44 live events and digital workshops. In those years, we have been able to reach over 5,000 women. Such events and workshops focus on female small business owners and their personal barriers of job entry because of the limited techniques used to educate them. From personal accounts, we have testimonies from women small business owners asking for more support in the format Behind The Leaf created. There is a pattern of surprise that should not be due to the fact that many of the resources are free and often available online. Without additional support from this grant, we cannot keep up with demand.
There has been a shift in continued education. More citizens are questioning the value of traditional education. The cost for a four year and graduate degree continues to rise, promoting many “college age” voters to seek online education or worse, leaning on search engines like Google or Answers. What we are seeing is that this same demographic has not had the privilege to be exposed to government funded resources provided through these channels. Due to this lack of familiarity with universities and libraries, this group pursues support from online resources and conferences. It is our goal to re-introduce small business owners to the free resources available through local partners like the Miami-Dade Public Library System and Community Colleges.