While the pandemic hit employment hard, entrepreneurship seems to be up the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau in January said new business applications increased 82 percent in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the previous year. And within that larger trend, evidence suggests female entrepreneurship is on the rise.

Linda Pringle Evans, CEO and Founder of Pringle Business Consulting, and the Director of Education at Empowering a Billion Women, says over the past decade, women-led companies have grown five times faster than the national average. In 2019, they accounted for 42 percent of all businesses in the United States — some 13 million businesses. They employed 9.4 million workers and generated. $1.9 trillion in revenue.

However, the pandemic hit women disproportionately harder than men.

“Women have lost a net of 5.4 million jobs, that's 55 percent since February 2020, according to the National Women's Law Center,” she says. “And almost 2.1 million women have dropped out of the labor force entirely.”

Still, entrepreneurship is up as of January 2021. There have been more than 1.8 million new business applications in the United States, an increase of 73 percent from a year ago. Many of those businesses are being started by women out of necessity, both because of the pandemic’s impact and because they’re looking at taking control of their future.

“A lot of women lost their jobs during the pandemic, and they are now looking at what's next,” she says.

What's next could be another pandemic, she says That has some women looking at the impact that they've already experienced and decided to start their own business in order to take control of their future.

“I haven't gotten the numbers because they haven’t come out yet, but I guarantee you, when we see the statistics we will see an astronomical increase of women entrepreneurs,” she says.

While there’s much to be encouraged by in that trend, women still face unique obstacles that stand between them and fulfilling that entrepreneurial pursuits.

Speaking on the Smart Business Dealmakers Podcast, Pringle Evans talks about the state of female entrepreneurship, where systemic flaws lead to a less-clear path for women who might otherwise start businesses, and about the launch of the Empower a Billion Women Accelerator, a business education and community platform aimed at addressing some of the unique issues female entrepreneurs face. Hit play on the link to catch the full conversation.