Division at UF seeks to promote women-owned businesses

The University of Florida has a robust program to engage small, minority and women-owned businesses. The Division of Small Business and Vendor Diversity Relations (SBVDR), led by Director Kathey Porter, is charged with identifying small, minority and women-owned businesses to do business with UF and implement programs to increase their long-term viability and success. A noted small business development and entrepreneurship expert, Porter is a frequently sought after speaker/panelist for insights on increasing opportunities for women-owned businesses.

“I have been an entrepreneur and have worked with entrepreneurs for a number of years now. The University of Florida is very proactive about increasing opportunities for small businesses and has a variety of programs designed to increase their utilization,” said Porter.

Porter was recently invited to attend the inaugural White House United State of Women Summit in Washington DC. “I cannot tell you how impactful the event was. It made me more determined than ever to create a dynamic entrepreneurial community and support a local ecosystem for women entrepreneurs who are armed, ready and excited about doing business.”

Women-owned businesses represent a tremendous opportunity for the University of Florida. According to the 2014 State of Women Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express, as of 2014, there were nearly 9.1 million women-owned enterprises, employing nearly 7.9 million workers and generating over $1.4 trillion in revenues. Between 1997 and 2014, the number of women-owned firms grew at 1.5 times the national average. Additionally, revenue and employment growth among women-owned firms tops that of all other firms (with the exception of the country’s largest, publicly traded corporations).

Based on these statistics, Porter feels UF has an excellent opportunity to increase engagement amongst this group. One of the ways she plans to do this is through the upcoming Women’s Entrepreneurship + Leadership Conference to be held in October in celebration of Women’s Small Business Month. This event will target women entrepreneurs in the greater Gainesville area, as well as from surrounding areas including Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee. The purpose of this event is, firstly, to raise awareness about opportunities that exist for female business owners with entities such as the University of Florida and, secondly, to get them excited about entrepreneurship and growing their businesses.

“I am very excited about the future for women-owned businesses in this area. By using available resources such as OSD, the University of Florida and others, women-owned businesses in our area have every opportunity for growth and success,” said Porter.

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