Women own more than 11 million small businesses in the U.S. and, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners, are responsible for nearly $2 trillion in economic activity every year. However, these businesses are just 39% of all small businesses in the U.S.—and like so many other aspects of the American economy have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with a greater proportion of female entrepreneurs saying they expect lower revenues as a result of the virus.
The good news is that among the Next 1000—the Forbes list of small-scale super achievers defying the odds, bootstrapping and scaling businesses built for Main Street, not Wall Street—women dominate. Female-identifying entrepreneurs comprised 56% of everyone who applied to be on the list (so far; nominations are still open) and of the 250 names released today, 155, or 62%, identify female.
Here’s a look at five standouts:
Pinky Cole, Founder, Slutty Vegan
Cole is the founder of Slutty Vegan, a plant-based burger joint in Atlanta. She is also a philanthropist, doling out support through The Pinky Cole Foundation to people who need it most. In 2020, she partnered with Clark Atlanta University to provide the children of police brutality victim Rayshard Brooks $600,000 in scholarships to the historically Black university. And in January, she teamed up with Steve Harvey and Georgia Power to help more 100 Atlanta residents with past-due utility bills get services restored and bills made current for the new year. “Yes, the food is good,” Cole told Forbes last summer, “but it’s bigger than food. We’re putting our money where our mouth is.”
Ellie O’Neill, Cofounder & COO, Powwater
Five years ago, O’Neill was working as an analyst at J.P. Morgan, working in a team that oversaw $3.5 billion in investments for some of Silicon Valley’s richest figures. She loved her job, but when her partner was nearly killed in a car accident, they both began to wonder if their careers would be better spent trying to make a difference for others. And so, in 2018 and with no business plan or funding, O’Neill quit J.P. Morgan to co-found Powwater, a public benefits corporation helping people access sustainable clean drinking water in areas around the world where it’s needed most. Funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Powwater is currently piloting a technology in Mombasa, Kenya, to create a more efficient water system.
Alex Steinman, Cofounder, The Coven
Steinman and her three cofounders met in the…
Read More: Meet The Women Of The Next 1000