Diversity & Inclusion

Women-Owned, Small Online Businesses Thrive on eBay

Cathy Foster, VP, Government Relations & Public Policy

We harness our technology to empower independent, small, women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to reach customers worldwide.

At eBay, our purpose is clear — We empower people and create economic opportunity for all. For nearly 25 years, we have been pioneering a pathway for people all over the world to participate in our global marketplace. Small businesses on eBay are able to reach our 183 million shoppers located around the world, and according to a new report the eBay Government Relations team released today, this is particularly true for women-owned small businesses on eBay. 

Over the past few decades, the number of women-owned business has dramatically increased in the United States. When the U.S. Census Bureau began tracking this data in 1972, there were roughly 400,000 enterprises owned by women. The number topped 12 million in 2018, representing 40 percent of all firms. Research also shows the growth rate in women-owned firms, their total employment and revenues has also consistently exceeded those experienced by all businesses.

These trends are incredibly positive and encouraging, but data also shows that women-owned businesses are smaller, on average, than businesses owned by men. Historically, this has had a direct impact on their ability to export, because up until recently, the costs have simply been too high for small businesses to reach customers outside of their local markets. Given the relatively small size of most women-owned businesses, they have much to gain from new digitally enabled trade opportunities, and eBay is a key and collaborative partner in this activity.

eBay Government Relations’ new Women-Owned Small Online Business Trade Report focuses specifically on the global trade success of women-owned small businesses on eBay. The data is encouraging — 97 percent of women-owned, eBay-enabled small businesses export compared to only one percent of all traditional businesses. In terms of reach, women-owned small businesses on eBay reach customers in an average of 17 foreign countries. Traditional businesses, on the other hand, only reach an average of four foreign markets. Additionally, 64 percent of women-owned businesses selling on eBay are reaching customers on four or more continents with their goods. This is outpacing the 60 percent achieved by the totality of eBay-enabled small businesses. Moreover, the reach of US women-owned, eBay-enabled small businesses spans the globe — their top five export destination markets include Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, China and Russia. 

The women behind these small businesses are a vibrant community of global traders, and they operate from cities and towns across America. Hawa Lukulay from West Columbia, South Carolina, is the owner of Messie’s Closet. She launched her eBay career shortly after graduating high school in 2013.

Fascinated by the thrill of treasure hunting, she opted to spend her summer before college, learning the ropes of selling contemporary clothing on eBay instead of getting a traditional job. Hawa successfully put herself through college, bringing with her skills and values from her eBay business -- including the flexibility to be able to work whenever and wherever she wants. Now, this entrepreneur is continuing her path to success with her store earnings and the freedom to grow her business and manage her own schedule.

SBAN member image quote Hawa Lukulay copy

“eBay allowed me to regain my confidence after a very shaky high school career,” Hawa said. “Without eBay, I am not sure I would’ve been able to complete college.”

Hawa proudly graduated from college a semester early and continues to grow her business selling fashion items. Since then, Hawa’s eBay sales have allowed her to expand into a brick-and-mortar store. For Hawa, the ultimate differentiator of selling on eBay is an extended customer reach. “eBay allows me to connect with the world, not just my community,” she said, noting she currently exports 10% of her products.

eBay is reducing everyday barriers that have traditionally locked small businesses, including women-owned small businesses, into their local market. Shoppers across the country and around the world are now available to small women-owned enterprises regardless of where they call home. We are committed to providing women-owned small businesses with the means and opportunities to grow their operations and create wealth in their own communities. To read the full report, visit ebaymainstreet.com/InclusiveTrade.