Hilary Crowell, owner of the Cultivated Thread, a small batch weaving studio in Bath. Waylon Wolfe

Women-owned businesses across the country are helping to drive economic recovery but they still face obstacles that stunt the growth of their businesses, such as lack of capital and social constraints.

One of the key problems women entrepreneurs face is access to networks, resulting in missed opportunities. To bring greater visibility and support to women entrepreneurs in Maine, the Brunswick-based CEI Women’s Business Center launched Maine Women’s Business List last earlier this month. It is the first public directory of women-owned businesses across Maine.

“We know that women as entrepreneurs and business owners have a really huge impact on our economy and our communities because women tend to reinvest a lot of their profits in their communities,” CEI Women’s Business Center Director Sarah Guerette said. “It makes the places where we work and live and raise our families stronger, so we wanted to find a way to raise visibility for women-owned businesses in Maine.”

Maine has an estimated 40,800 women-owned firms, employing 30,100 people and attributing to roughly $3.6 billion, according to an American Express report.

Nearly 300 businesses have been listed so far in the CEI directory. The companies listed in the directory are searchable by geography, industry, or keyword. Any business headquartered in Maine, and which is also at least 50% female-owned can register.

Guerrette said they started working on the project in the spring but launched it only in the late fall.

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According to the American Express State of Women-Owned Business Report, women represent 42% of all businesses in the U.S. Yet, there is a significant size disparity between these businesses and others.

The report also states that about 88% of women-owned businesses never have gross sales of more than $100,000 per year, and about 62% of female entrepreneurs count on their business as their primary source of income.

Guerette said one of the main challenges that women often face is access to capital and the funds they need to start or grow their business.

She said one of the things they are hoping is that the business list becomes a place for female entrepreneurs to connect to do business, learn and cross-promote their business with one another.

Hilary Crowell, owner of the Cultivated Thread, a small batch weaving studio in Bath whose business is listed in the Women’s Business directory, said she is excited to be a part of it.

“As the directory gains public attention, I am sure it will direct business to my website,” said Crowell. I am part of another directory, Maine Made, and have gained many retail and wholesale customers. “I am confident the Women’s Business directory will benefit my business by increasing visibility to customers.”

For more details on the business list, visit mainewomensbusinesslist.com.


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