According to a report on the state of women-owned businesses from American Express, 1,817 new businesses were established by U.S. women every day in 2019. But although the number of women entrepreneurs has been growing rapidly, women business owners still face unique challenges, including greater difficulty accessing financing — men entrepreneurs are 20% more likely to secure the funding they need.
But a number of companies established by women have gone on to become publicly traded, and the success of those firms has even surpassed that of companies without women in leadership positions. This presents an opportunity for investors, who can now buy a variety of stocks in women-owned businesses. And investing has been made all that much easier for the average person to do thanks to the many apps changing how we invest.
If you want to get in on this entrepreneurial action, here’s what you need to know about investing in women-owned firms, along with a list of flourishing businesses to choose from.
Why you might invest in women-owned businesses
If you invest in women-owned businesses, you can grow your money while also potentially impacting social change. Values-based investing is a great way to support causes you care about, including closing the gender gap.
Women are still under-represented in Fortune 500 companies, holding only 6% of leadership roles. Women entrepreneurs also have difficulty accessing the capital and mentorship needed to grow their businesses. But gender diversity can drive innovation and help reach women consumers, who control the majority of household spending.
Furthermore, companies with women in leadership positions tend to perform better than exclusively men-led businesses. For example, a comprehensive study from S&P Global found that the appointment of female CEOs resulted in greater value appreciation and increased stock price momentum for those companies. And a report on women entrepreneurs from Cornerstone Capital Group, an investment advisory firm, found that female-founded and co-founded firms rake in 10% more revenue over the course of five years than male-owned companies.
All of this means that you might consider investing in women-owned businesses because you believe in gender equality, because you want to support economic growth, or simply because you’re looking to make a wise investment.
To give you some ideas of the kinds of companies you could invest in, we’ve selected nine companies from a variety of industries that are both founded and run by women, so you can get some inspiration for the stocks that might work for your portfolio.
9 women-owned businesses you could invest in
Founded by Bonnie Anderson in 2006, Veracyte is a San Francisco-based genomic diagnostics company that is innovating diagnostics for certain cancers and other health conditions by providing more affordable and less invasive methods.
Anderson serves as chairman of the board and CEO, and there are three other women on the executive team and two other women on the board. The company’s total product revenue grew to $34.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Sunrun is an industry-leading residential solar energy provider that makes it easy and affordable for homeowners to switch to clean energy by offering solar installation for as little as 0% down with a monthly fee. Founded by Lynn Jurich along with Edward Fenster and Nat Kramer in 2007, the company is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area and employs more than 3,000 people.
Lynn Jurich still serves as the CEO and there are three other women on the executive team. The growing company now has more than 550,000 customers and has plenty of room to expand — only 3% of homes in the U.S. are solar-powered. About every 10 minutes, Sunrun adds new solar panels to a home.
Katrina Lake founded Stitch Fix in 2011 out of her apartment while attending Harvard. The company now provides a personalized online shopping experience to 3.5 million clients and is growing. With Stitch Fix, clients are matched with one of the company’s thousands of stylists to receive a customized box of clothing and accessories (available for men, women, and kids).
Lake remains at the helm of the company today, and Elizabeth Spaulding serves as president. There are also four women on the Stitch Fix board. The company remained surprisingly resilient during the coronavirus pandemic, growing net revenue 11% year over year in 2020. Stitch Fix holds the largest share of the market when it comes to online styling services.
Founded by Casey Lynch, Kristen Gafric, and Stephen Dominy in 2012, Cortexyme is a biopharmaceutical company that works on therapeutic treatments for degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. The team is currently testing one therapeutic solution in an ongoing Phase 2 / 3 clinical trial with more than 300 patients while other programs are undergoing preclinical testing.
Casey Lynch is the CEO. There are two other women on the executive team and two women directors on the board. Although Cortexyme is still testing its products, the revenue-earning potential is high. More than 6 million people in the U.S. currently have Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to climb to almost 13 million by 2050.
In 2019, more than 949,000 people created events on Eventbrite, an online platform that allows anyone to list, find, and attend all kinds of events, from music festivals to marathons. In 2019, 4.7 million events taking place in 180 countries were made possible by Eventbrite. Although the business was certainly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, revenue was up 22% by the end of the fourth quarter of 2020 when compared with the prior quarter.
Eventbrite was founded in 2006 by Julia Hartz, Kevin Hartz, and Renaud Visage. The company grew rapidly between its founding and its initial public offering in 2018, going from $0 to $10 billion in ticket sales. Julia Hartz serves as CEO and there are two other women on the executive team as well.
What’s better than investing in a Chanel handbag? How about investing in a company that allows online shoppers to purchase authenticated luxury designer items on consignment? The RealReal does just that.
Since its founding by Julie Wainwright out of her home in 2011, the RealReal has acquired millions of customers and has established 16 retail locations in addition to the online platform. Product offerings range from designer handbags to fine art, and The RealReal is the only online reseller to authenticate every item.
Furthermore, the company is committed to diversity and is 68% female, 14% Black, 23% Latino, and 12% Asian. In addition to Wainwright, who serves as CEO, there are three women on the executive team, and 60% of the board is female as well.
Ayala Pharmaceuticals is working to revolutionize cancer treatment by developing drugs that inhibit tumor growth and spread. The company specializes in developing solutions for cancers that are clinically underserved. Ayala was founded in November 2017 by Roni Mamluk, Ph.D., who still holds the role of CEO. The executive team is 50% women as well.
Ayala gained momentum in 2020, announcing data from a Phase 2 study of one of their drugs that showed its initial safety and effectiveness. Several other medications are also undergoing clinical trials, with new data expected to be announced in 2021.
Bumble is a social networking app that has dating, friendship, and business components. It differs from other dating apps in that women are required to make the first move when matched with men, a reversal of old-fashioned norms.
Bumble’s founder and CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, became the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire after taking the company public in 2021. She is one of three women on a four-person executive team and also serves as a member of the board of directors, which is more than 70% female.
Bumble has grown rapidly since the company was founded in 2014 in Austin, Texas. The total number of paid users reached 2.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, and revenue increased 31.1% year over year. In addition to providing a service designed for women, Bumble aims to combat sexual harassment, which Herd experienced while working at Tinder.
Twist Bioscience is an industry-leading DNA synthesis company. The business makes synthetic DNA writing faster and cheaper, benefiting partners that need customized genetic sequences. And Twist is doing well — the company announced revenues of $90.1 million for fiscal year 2020, a whopping 66% increase year over year.
Emily Leproust, Ph.D., who co-founded the company in 2013, is CEO at Twist. She leads a diverse team with three other female executives. The company’s customer base and revenue continue to grow, with the synthetic biology market projected to grow to $13.9 billion by 2022.
Resources for women-owned businesses
Although female entrepreneurs and small business owners should be inspired by these nine women who took their companies public, they should also know the success of these companies did not come without obstacles.
The biggest hurdle for many women is securing enough funding to start their business. If you know a woman who is struggling to get her company off the ground, there are a number of business development resources specifically designed to help women:
- The Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) provides training and support for women entrepreneurs, especially those who are disadvantaged socially or economically. The OWBO oversees Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), which are available in almost every state and provide on-site learning.
- The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program and Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSBs) are designed to provide more federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses by limiting competition in industries where women are under-represented. You will need to obtain a WOSB certification to be eligible for these contracting opportunities, but this can be done through various methods including online and through third-party certifiers. The self-certification process is no longer available.
- The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce offers women-owned business certifications that can help women access special funding and other support.
- The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) offers certification for women-owned businesses, training for women executives, and networking and procurement opportunities.
- IFundWomen is a new crowdfunding site designed to support women entrepreneurs.
- SCORE provides mentorship and resources for women entrepreneurs.
Women should also consider the standard assistance offered by the Small Business Administration. The SBA coordinates with many of the programs listed above and also helps connect entrepreneurs with other programs and lenders. In addition, you might see what your local government and nonprofit agencies also have available.
How do I help a woman-owned business?
There are several ways you can help a woman-owned business grow. You might:
- Purchase its products or services.
- Follow the company’s social media accounts and promote them on your own pages.
- Subscribe to their email list and ask friends to do the same.
- Set aside a certain amount of your investing budget to go toward women-owned businesses.
- Provide financing through crowdfunding or peer-to-peer lending.
- Reach out to them directly and ask how you can provide support.
What qualifies as a woman-owned business?
In order to be a certified women-owned small business and meet the eligibility requirements for federal contracts, you’ll need to have a small business that is at least 51% owned and operated by women who are U.S. citizens. You’ll also need to show that women are in charge of making long-term decisions for the company in addition to handling day-to-day operations.
How do I get started investing in women-owned businesses?
Although investing money used to be reserved for the wealthy, anyone can get started investing in women-owned businesses. First, determine your budget for individual stocks, which might only be a small percentage of your overall investment portfolio. Once you know your budget, you could use an investment platform to buy fractional shares of women-owned businesses from several industries so you have a diversified selection.
Although the gender gap is narrowing when it comes to women’s access to funding, women still face a number of obstacles and need support through financing, training, and mentorship. One way to show your support is by being a customer of small women-owned businesses in your community and beyond.
Another way to impact change (and work toward your financial goals while you’re at it) is to invest in women-owned businesses. If you’re not sure where to start, look at our lists of the best brokerage accounts and the best investment apps. You’re likely to find an investment platform that meets your needs, suits your budgets, and aligns with your values.