New Year was the fresh start a lot of people have been too eager to welcome after the mess the last year has made. Not everyone, however, had the worst of it.

The year 2016 was so kind to women that the business sector continues to flourish because of their efforts. It might not have been the best year for the rest of the world, but for women in business, it surely was.

Conquering the Market

Since the 2007 financial crisis, there has been a surge in women-founded businesses in the United States alone. According to a report by Womenable, there were about 3.5 million additions to the number of women-run business firms from 2007 to 2016, 78% of which are by women of color.

This spells good news, especially since non-white females have always had the least recognition in the past not only in business but in the fields of cinema and literature. Now, women own majority of the businesses in health care, educational enterprises, and beauty-related services while women of color are also putting up 842 businesses per day.

Opening the Floodgates

The enthusiasm women had for business this year was so prominent that it even trickled down into the financial sector. In New Jersey, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reported a 26% increase in loan approvals for female business owners. SBA issued 355 loans for women, totalling to an amount of $113 million.

“They’ve actually been leading the way for a few years now,” remarked Al Titone, Director of SBA New Jersey. “They realize, ‘Hey, I can!’”

Taking One for the Team

Women may have received an abundance of business opportunities this year, but they never forget to give back.

Vicki Saunders, award-winning entrepreneur and recognized global influencer, founded SheEO in hopes of helping other women succeed in their own endeavors. She noticed how significantly underfunded women were and launched SheEO in 2015 to provide opportunities for female entrepreneurs.

SheEO invited 1,000 women, or ‘Activators’, to contribute $1,100 to the company’s regional funds. Saunders calls the program “Radical Generosity” and gives the crowdfunded $1,100 as initial capital to all aspiring and deserving businesswomen who are called the ‘Ventures.’

Both the Activators and Ventures benefit from their participation. While the Ventures run their own businesses, fellow Activators support each other by doing joint businesses outside SheEO, becoming each other’s suppliers, and exchanging marketing strategies.

The company’s goal is to get over a million women to contribute to their company and eventually expand globally.

“I believe the roles of passion and community in success should not be overlooked,” said Sarah Rushton, Lead for Growth and Partnerships at SheEO. “Emboldening women to believe this will create meaningful change in business!”

Pursuing Greatness

The fight doesn’t end there. Despite the difficulty of the journey, women continue to thrive in tough industries and inspire others to turn their dreams into reality.

If these women can do it, then so can we.