EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include a statement from Venture Forward on its multi-year research initiative.
SAN DIEGO — The pandemic has taken a toll on small businesses nationwide, but a new study shows there has also been a rise in entrepreneurship and micro-businesses.
What You Need To Know
- A new study shows women are responsible for over half of new micro-business starts since the onset of the pandemic
- It shows women were far more likely to engage in retail start-ups
- The study also shows an increase in Black and Hispanic women-owned micro-business starts since the pandemic began
- Micro-businesses provide a significant source of additional income
GoDaddy Venture Forward is a GoDaddy research initiative that quantifies the impact of 20 million online micro-businesses on their local economies. The study sought to measure what is driving the boom and found that women are responsible for over half (54.3%) of new micro-business starts since the onset of the pandemic, a jump of 10 percentage points versus pre-pandemic levels.
The study also found that San Diego is the top city nationwide for women-owned micro-business starts over the past year.
Libby Lefanowicz is the taste buds behind Kula Ice Cream, San Diego’s first and only completely gluten-free and vegan ice cream company.
Unlike many other dairy-free options, her dessert actually tastes like real ice cream. She uses the same amount of sugar, protein, fat, water and air as other premium ice creams, but with vegan ingredients.
“There’s such a stigma towards vegan ice cream because for so many years, the only vegan ice cream you could get tasted like crap,” Lefanowicz said. “One of the really special things about our ice cream is that we use olive oil as our fat and so it gives it that mouthfeel like you’re eating dairy without the dairy. And then we use really high-quality nuts and seeds as the protein.”
She started Kula during the pandemic, growing from online orders, to farmers markets, to opening her own shop and selling to grocery stores across Southern California.
“We were selling a couple thousand dollar’s worth of ice cream every week and delivering it door to door just in the San Diego area,” Lefanowicz said.
Council member Chris Cate has been supporting Lefanowicz since her grand opening. He believes she is filling a need in the community.
“Promoting women in the workplace, in the business realm, that’s a voice that hasn’t been there in the past, and I think for us as a city, I think we’re embracing that diversity of ideas and promoting women-owned businesses falls in line with that,” Cate said.
He hopes between the new data and Lefanowicz’s example that more entrepreneurs follow her lead.
“I think those who were looking for opportunity said, ‘Why not? Maybe this is the best time,’” Cate said.
“Kula” means community; a reminder Lefanowicz lives by every day.
“There’s just so many smart, go-getter ladies around here,” she said. “Be ready to work hard, but you can do it.”
“Our multi-year research initiative, Venture Forward, seeks to shine a spotlight on our nation’s microbusinesses: a small but mighty part of our economy that are oftentimes uncaptured or overlooked by community organizations and policymakers," Alexandra Rosen, Venture Forward senior director said. "Through our research, we found that women are responsible for over half (54.3%) of new microbusiness starts since the onset of the pandemic, a jump of 10 percentage points versus pre-pandemic levels, and San Diego was the top city for women-owned microbusiness starts over the past year.”
“Venture Forward research proves that for each everyday entrepreneur, two or more jobs are created in a community. Supporting local female entrepreneurs not only makes our communities thrive, but their businesses enable more economic opportunity and prosperity. As a San Diego native, I know first-hand that these microbusinesses, like our one-of-a-kind Mexican food spots, amazing bakeries, and coffee shops define our neighborhoods (and our memories!). With our ongoing research, Venture Forward hopes to provide workforce development leaders and policymakers with a deeper understanding of the attitudes, demographics, and needs of these entrepreneurs so they can build policies and programs that better support one of the necessary pillars of the economy,” Rosen added.
Looking deeper into the women-owned micro-business data, Venture Forward identified:
- Women were far more likely to engage in retail start-ups
- Pre-pandemic: 16.0% of all women-owned businesses were retail
- Post-pandemic: 23.2% of all women-owned businesses were retail
Top percent gainers for female businesses:
- Home services +136.6%
- Food service +99.8%
- Retail +45.1%
Shifting racial demographics of micro-business starts since the pandemic:
- Pre-pandemic: 25.0% of the women who started micro-businesses pre-pandemic were Black, 3.3% were Hispanic
- Post-pandemic: 31.1% of the women who started micro-businesses post-pandemic were Black, 4.6% were Hispanic
Micro-businesses provide a significant source of additional income:
- Among women who report working 20+ hours per week on their business, 51% earn over $2k/month, 28% earn over $4k/month
Top five cities for women-owned micro-business starts over the past year are:
- San Diego
- St. Louis