7 Resources for Women-Owned Businesses in PA

New Online PA Business One-Stop Shop Launches

AMMA JO, Harrisburg

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we’ve compiled a list of the top go-to resources for women-owned businesses in the commonwealth. Whether it’s becoming certified as a small diverse business, applying for funding, finding business mentors, or contracting with government agencies, Pennsylvania can help women-owned businesses build a bright future for themselves and their families, ensure their neighborhoods are vibrant places to live and work, and contribute to our flourishing economy.

1. Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop

The Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop is the first stop for many individuals seeking information about how to turn their entrepreneurial ideas into a new business. The experts at Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop provide customized assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small businesses and offer access to a vast toolbox of services and resources, including those focused on small diverse businesses.

2. Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

The Pennsylvania SBDC network is the only statewide, nationally-accredited program that provides high-quality one-on-one consulting, training, and information resources to empower new and existing businesses — including resources specifically for women-owned businesses. The SBDC partners with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), DCED, and 18 universities and colleges across the state to provide budding entrepreneurs and small business owners the tools they need to thrive.

3. Women’s Business Enterprise National Council

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs. Certification as a diverse business enables women-owned businesses to access procurement opportunities in Pennsylvania through the PA Department of General Services’ Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion, and Small Business Opportunities (BDISO). To learn more about diverse procurement opportunities with the Commonwealth, visit the PA Department of General Services Small Diverse Business page.

4. Women’s Opportunity Resource Center (WORC)

The Women’s Opportunities Resource Center (WORC) promotes social and economic self-sufficiency primarily for economically disadvantaged women and their families by providing training, individual business assistance, an incentive savings program, job placement, and access to business and financial resources. WORC empowers its constituents through various self-help strategies, including savings, a self-employment network, and access to its local and national affiliations. It includes the Economic Opportunities Fund, which provides access to capital for low-income and underserved populations in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, specifically women and minorities who lack access to capital and credit.

5. Small Business Administration (SBA)

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers numerous resources for women-owned businesses, from programs geared toward supporting disadvantaged businesses to local assistance offered at partnering women’s business centers across Pennsylvania:

  • Chatham University Women’s Business Center (CWBC) (Western PA)

    Established in 2016, the Chatham University Women’s Business Center (CWBC) at its Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship provides services geared specifically to women and underserved populations, minority entrepreneurs, and veterans throughout Western PA. CWBC offers aspiring and existing business owners free business counseling, training programs, technical support and mentoring focused on business planning and financing, access to capital, federal contracting, and business expansion through international markets and exporting.

  • ASSETS Lancaster (South Central PA)

    The Women’s Business Center at ASSETS assists small business owners who are starting or expanding their small business. While extra consideration is given to specific challenges and issues for women entrepreneurs, our programs serve all – women, men, and racial and ethnic minorities. The expert coaches and trainers at the Women’s Business Center provide valuable resources to help ensure business success, including programs and services in Spanish.

  • Women’s Business Development Center (Southeastern PA)

    The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) fosters the development and retention of successful business by delivering resources that enable individuals to start new businesses and grow existing ones. WBDC facilitates the relationship between corporations, government, and women-owned businesses to provide growth and sustainability through the Women’s Business Enterprise Council PA-DE-NJ, a marketing, procurement, and certification assistance council.

6. Amber Grant for Women

Launched in conjunction with the entrepreneurial community for women, the Amber Grant Foundation began in 1998 in memory of an ambitious young woman who died at 19 years old before she could realize her entrepreneurial aspirations. Today, the Foundation awards business grants to women across the U.S. who want to achieve their own dreams of entrepreneurship. Every month, the WomensNet judges award one or more qualifying grants of $1,000 each, one of which is selected to receive the $9,000 Amber Grant at the end of the year. To learn more about applying for the Amber Grant, visit the Amber Grant Foundation website.

7. How Small Businesses Can Raise Capital by Issuing Securities Guide

Helping entrepreneurs understand alternatives to traditional funding options can democratize capital and help business owners circumvent potential glass ceilings. The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities offers guidance to small businesses seeking to start-up or expand on navigating the process of raising money by offering securities for sale. The guide, “How Small Businesses Can Raise Capital by Issuing Securities,” offers information on the registration process, as well as state and federal exemptions. Business owners seeking to offer securities for sale to Pennsylvania investors can contact the department’s Office of Corporation Finance. Staff members are also available to give presentations to your business and professional groups on this issue.

To learn more about the funding programs and resources available to small businesses, visit our PA Business One-Stop Shop website, follow our social channels (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn,) and sign up for our monthly e-newsletter for additional #PASmallBiz tips. Additionally, the Small Business Administration’s online business guide is a great resource for general business information.