NWBC Addresses Opportunities and Challenges for Millennial Women Entrepreneurs


Desirée Patno is the CEO and President of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE). With almost three decades specializing in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem, she leads her executive team’s expertise of championing women’s economic growth and independence.

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) has released a new report profiling millennial women entrepreneurs, and the opportunities and challenges they face. The profile includes informative qualitative and quantitative data and research focus groups for a comprehensive look at how the millennial generation, those born between 1982 and 2000, view entrepreneurship and how obstacles such as student debt inhibit millennial women from pursuing running their own businesses.

The NWBC narrowed their focus on millennials who participate in the technology-based sector, a male-dominated industry with high economic impact. Three focus groups were used to provide context to the data while receiving first-hand accounts  from millennial women and men pursuing entrepreneurship. The focus groups were divided between millennial women with student debt, millennial women without student debt and millennial men.

Key Findings

  • Millennial women are less likely than millennial men to be entrepreneurs. 3.8 percent compared to 5 percent
  • Millennial women show greater ethnic and racial diversity compared to previous generations of women entrepreneurs
  • Among millennial women, entrepreneurs are more likely to have children, regardless of age
  • Millennial women reported that while the Great Recession discouraged entrepreneurship, it also  motivated independent earning power and self-determination
  • Millennial men and women that viewed student debt negatively said they would not start a business until their debt was paid off
  • Women were more likely than men to voice concern over student debt
  • Both millennial men and women note gender differences in access to capital, including higher barriers for women, especially for informal networks

Some of the millennial women entrepreneurs in the focus groups mentioned that they had a “side hustle,” a secondary employment or entrepreneurial activity. While this provides more income to help pay off outstanding debt or bills. While some noted that the “side hustle” can take a lot of time and energy, others stated having it helped them launch their business.

The NWBC encourages policymakers and stakeholders to consider how they can help support the growth of millennial women entrepreneurs, as “increasing dynamism among millennials is advantageous for the entire economy.” Read the full report here.

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