TEDCO has selected 15 entrepreneurs to participate in two new 10-month pilot leadership development programs. In collaboration with local university and county partners, TEDCO created the Open Institute for Black Women Entrepreneur Excellence, in Howard County; and the Leading Women’s Program, in Montgomery County, to support entrepreneurs in growing their businesses.

The Howard County-based pilot program was created in collaboration with Howard County government. The program will leverage the expertise of Maryland’s four HBCUs, including Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. It will take place at the Maryland Innovation Center, in Columbia.

Created with the Montgomery County Economic Development Corp., the 10-month Leading Women’s Program will combine virtual and in-person courses held at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville. Science and tech entrepreneurs will engage in a pilot program focused on leadership, communications, real world perspectives and development plans.

The new pilot programs aim to build on a promising milestone: at 52%, Maryland has the highest rate per capita of women-business ownership in the United States. Nationally, 42% of all businesses are women-owned, employing 9.4 million workers and generating revenue of $1.9 trillion.

However, women-owned startups also face challenges, including access to capital. A Harvard Kennedy School study found that fledgling businesses with at least one woman on the founding team received only 13% of venture capital. And while Black women lead the way in business formation, only 3% are running mature businesses. Research cites three key barriers: the types of businesses, limited access to capital and the uneven distribution of access to key resources needed for entrepreneurship success.