Idaho ties for third nationwide in women-owned business clout

photo of women's business center
A group of dignitaries held a formal ribbon-cutting on July 19 for the Idaho Women’s Business Center. Photos by Jeanette Trompczynski

In good news for Idaho’s women entrepreneurs, the state ties with Nevada as third in the nation for the economic clout of women-owned businesses.

According to a recent survey by American Express, Idaho came in sixth in the nation for growth in the number of women-owned firms since 2014 with a 17.3% increase, third in growth of jobs created with a 12.7% increase and 11th in growth of firm revenues with a 12.8% increase, for a total of third nationwide in economic clout.

“I’m not surprised with the growth statistics of women-owned businesses in Idaho,” said Jennifer Lastra, CEO and managing director for 360 Immersive, a Boise-based virtual reality training application, in an email message. “Women bring additional skills that every business requires to succeed such as thinking more holistically while prioritizing inclusiveness, creative problem-solving and effective team development.  It’s exciting to see more and more women are finding ways to chase their entrepreneurial dreams.”

Growing resources for businesses

photo of Speakers are Jesse Reese McKinney, CEO of @redaspenlove , Liza Roeser Atwood, CEO of @FiftyFlowerscom, and Jennifer Lastrow, founder of @360_Immersive.
Jennifer Lastra, right. Photo by Sharon Fisher

Idaho has an increasing number of resources for entrepreneurs, with Lastra noting that she had worked with Boise State University’s Small Business Development Center, Treasure Valley SCORE and the Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders Program. Madden has worked with Mission43, an organization for post-9/11 veterans, and the Boise State University Venture College Program.

“I am further encouraged with the recent re-funding of the Idaho Women’s Business Center offering services in a few other cities across Idaho,” Lastra said. “This will allow even more women access to free resources to help support them while they launch or fine-tune their business models.”

photo of alexis rankin
Alexis Rankin

However, the survey results are not a panacea, particularly in funding, said Alexis Rankin of Boise, who is developing a roommate-matching application called Chillow. The app is being developed with Ventive and the company is looking for funding, presenting to investors in Salt Lake City later this month.

“As the founder of a woman-owned business in Idaho, I am ecstatic to see growth in these numbers,” Rankin said in an email. “However, I also know there is a long way to go when it comes to the growth in women-run businesses, as well as funding provided to them. It feels like we still have to jump through extra hoops and bounds when it comes to finding funding, but it gives me hope to see our numbers on the up and up.”

Where Idaho fits

Geri Stengel

Idaho is outperforming many other states, said Geri Stengel, research advisor for American Express, who noted that in a good economy, entrepreneurs frequently return to the workforce.

“The fact that Idaho has a strong rate indicates that you are more likely to have ‘opportunity entrepreneurs,’ in this case women, who see a need in the marketplace and feel they are uniquely qualified.”

photo of anne madden
Anne Madden

That’s the case for Proximity Telehealth, which provides online health care to women who have recently had babies, said Anne Madden, founder, in an email message.

“Being a woman with a doctorate in physical therapy and three children myself gives me a distinct advantage with that group of patients,” Madden said. “I am a peer as well as a provider. I feel welcome as a woman owned business owner, especially in the women’s health care setting.”


Women are particularly likely to be “sidepreneurs,” where women have either a side business while also having a job, or a “flexibility” entrepreneur, performing childcare or elder care along with work on a part-time schedule, Stengel said.

This was the first time American Express has looked at sidepreneurs, and, nationally, the trend is growing much faster among women than among men, Stengel said. Three industries are particularly strong for women: services such as nail salons and pet care; health and social assistance; and professional, scientific and technical services such as lawyers, architects and consultants.

Women can also be “necessity” entrepreneurs when they either can’t find a job or the job they have isn’t paying well enough, Stengel said.