Women Entrepreneurs in Rural Communities: Their Challenges and Successes

Starting a small business in a rural community can come with its fair share of challenges. A small business is defined as a firm that has fewer than 100 employees. These small businesses can come in many forms, serve the diverse needs of populations, carry different products and encompass many forms of work. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are the backbone of rural and agricultural communities. Small businesses dominate the industries that keep rural communities viable, such as forestry, fishing, hunting, etc. However, owning and operating a small business in a rural community can pose some unique challenges to entrepreneurs. 

Some of the key challenges that rural entrepreneurs face include:

  1. Low population density/remoteness
  2. Depressed access to markets, capital, and labor 
  3. Lack of necessary infrastructure 
  4. Geographic isolation from support networks 
  5. Infrastructure gaps, including reliable internet and telephone service 

Women entrepreneurs who own small businesses in rural and agricultural communities face even more unique challenges to keeping their business up and running. One of the main challenges female entrepreneurs face in these communities compared to the urban dwelling counterparts is higher poverty rates. This can create issues for securing capital needed to get a business up and running, and also for maintaining the business if times get hard. Once women in these communities have successfully started their small businesses, other challenges have been cited. According to the Rural Women Entrepreneurs Report, challenges with training programs, personal support systems, identifying financing, and finding qualified employees have been noted by women who run small businesses in rural communities.  

A very interesting area of growth and success for female entrepreneurs has been in the area of agriculture-related business endeavours. According to The Center for Women in Business’ report, over the past three decades, the share of U.S. farms operated by women nearly tripled to comprise 14% of all U.S. farms. In this typically male dominated space, women are getting more involved and are becoming increasingly successful. However, being a woman in a male dominated field can pose challenges. Women might feel as though they have to do more in order to stay competitive with their male counterparts. Regardless of these challenges, the above statistic makes it evident that women are getting involved in the agricultural business in a big way. 

For female entrepreneurs in rural communities, the unique hurdles and successes they face can make them feel isolated and alone. Finding community in rural areas can be a challenge in and of itself, but for women who own a small business in these geographic regions, finding that community can be even more of a challenge. This is where Peer Support Facilitator Training for Rural Women Entrepreneurs comes in. Women entrepreneurs in rural communities do not need to face their hurdles or experience their successes alone. With this peer support training, they can find a community of women who can understand and support them in profound ways. 

In this training, Rural Women Entrepreneurs will gain an understanding of peer support fundamentals and learn how to apply them effectively when supporting their peers facing similar challenges. They will also learn how to effectively communicate and share personal experiences to enhance interactions as a peer supporter and support group facilitator. Participants will gain an understanding of the importance of self-care and how to apply this practice in their lives. 

Finally and most importantly, individuals will learn how to become great peer support facilitators! This work is extremely rewarding and can lead to so many amazing opportunities for trainees. Individuals who participate in this training will be able to apply the skills they learn to do work that is nourishing and steeped with care and empathy. Participants don’t need to have experienced/be experiencing mental health challenges to participate. All are welcome to join! 

The Peer Support Facilitator Training for Rural Women Entrepreneurs will be a 2-day virtual course taking place on July 21st and 28th 2021, from 9AM PST – 5PM PST (with breaks). 

Registration is by donation to the Stigma-Free Society. 

To register for this remarkable program, or a future training, please click HERE to visit our peer support landing page.


U.S. House of Representatives, Small Business Committee