PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The pandemic had a near-immediate effect on women's employment but there may be a silver lining: as more women than men leave the workforce, a growing number are starting their own businesses.
And they have new resources to help them do it.
"Prior to becoming a full-time entrepreneur, I was a general manager in retail," said Lori Robinson of Philadelphia's Mount Airy section.
Robinson said when the world shut down, a light bulb went off in her head. And with the help of Robinson's teenage son, her business, Boards Ga Lor, was born.
"It is catering, cured meats, cheese, fruits, dessert tables," she explained.
"In the greater Philadelphia area, 9.1 million entrepreneurs and firms and businesses started by women at large. I mean, it's a tremendous number, contributing $1.4 trillion in sales," said Carol Lee Mitchell, Senior Vice President of Small Business at Bank of America.
Plus, 50 percent of new businesses begun in 2020 were driven by female entrepreneurs. And the way they operate is different. For instance, during the pandemic, a larger percentage of women took a cut in their own salaries than men, and women are proving to be masters of innovation.
"They are serving needs, they're identifying needs, and local community saying, you know, this is something that I can solve for, and then taking that idea and actioning on it," said Mitchell.
And through a new initiative by Bank of America, women have a new way to find funding.
"We just launched our Access to Capital directory, which effectively matches women entrepreneurs to firms that are providing various forms of capital access," said Mitchell.
Meantime, Robinson said nine months in her business is thriving.
"I'm able to support my family, with this being a full-time entrepreneur," she said.
She is applying what she learned in the workforce to her own company to retain talent.
"I make sure that I pay a fair wage, I start off at $20 an hour," she said.
And Robinson said showing gratitude to her staff is a priority.
"And let them know, 'hey, I'm human, too. I'm a person too. I have family. I have a life outside of work,' and people appreciate that," she said.