Our Why

Northampton has always led the way, constantly developing systems and practices that value diversity, inclusion, and equality. However, even in a city where women experience a higher level of equality and feel more supported in their endeavors, they still must overcome numerous hurdles to achieve success as entrepreneurs.

Childcare. Household obligations. Societal pressure. All entrepreneurs overcome tremendous odds to achieve success, with about 20% of small businesses failing within the first year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But female entrepreneurs face even more odds as personal, professional, and societal expectations stack up against them and create an even more precipitous journey. With a reported 33% of businesses Massachusetts-wide being female-owned, the city of Northampton, MA, has an even higher rate of women entrepreneurs: 44% (based on brick-and-mortar businesses alone).

Percentage of female-owned businesses

Northampton (based on brick and mortar)

But according to a study from FitSmallBusiness that was published in the Boston Magazine, Massachusetts is near the bottom of the list for supporting women entrepreneurs. Fifth from the bottom, to be exact. And within the Northampton community, as noted above, there are no organizations or formal networks aimed at supporting and encouraging women entrepreneurs. A 2021 report on female entrepreneurship in Massachusetts by the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP) and the City of Boston’s Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement concluded that “for [female entrepreneurs in Massachusetts] to continue to make gains, women business owners need better access to resources, financing, expertise and networking.” Our research conducted in fall of 2022, found that these same barriers – along with several others – exist here in Northampton.

The Sphere will provide Northampton women and nonbinary entrepreneurs with support to overcome those barriers, leading to better economic health in Northampton.

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