Female-owned businesses generate more than $1.6 trillion nationwide a year, according to American Express Open. Entrepreneur Felena Hanson would like to see women in Arizona add to that.
Hanson, the founder and owner of women-centric coworking space Hera Hub, plans to open in the Phoenix area this year.
“My goal for Hera Hub is to support 20,000 women and the launch of their business by 2020,” Hanson said.
Hera Hub opened its first location in San Diego and has expanded to three other locations in the U.S. The company turned its attention to Phoenix because the number of women-owned business has increased by 64 percent since 2002, according to an article in The Phoenix Business Journal citing an American Express Open study.
“There are tons of women out here who are doing amazing things, that have small businesses, that want to grow their businesses, and have great ideas that want to start,” said Shatha Barbour, founder of Hera Huba Phoenix.
The Valley has more than a dozen coworking spaces, which offer shared work environments to companies, individuals and nonprofits. Some focus on specific industries, such as gaming, and others promote various values, such as social awareness or cultural diversity. Jenny Poon, owner of Co+Hoots, said coworking spaces have a positive impact on the economy.
“When we started, it was all about educating people in the coworking movement,” she said. “Now it’s all about educating them on how to grow better businesses, how this is a huge benefit to a city, how this is creating jobs and communities and better businesses in general.”
Julie Cook, the president elect of the National Association of Women Business Owners chapter in Phoenix, said a place dedicated to women could help them find their footing.
“For women who are just getting started, they need a place where they can go and connect and collaborate with their tribe or discover what their tribe is,” she said. “In order to accomplish that, they need a coworking space.”
Hera Hub offers benefits similar to other coworking spaces, including mentoring and collaborative opportunities. But the offices aren’t like “other coworking spaces that tend to focus on recreating typical office settings,” according to its website. They provide a more “beautiful” atmosphere that includes aromatic candles, spa-like music and exercise balls.
By the end of 2017, analysts predict that 1.2 million people will have worked in a coworking space globally, according to industry magazine Deskmag.
Hera Hub has not yet identified a location in Phoenix. The company plans to expand in Austin, Texas, and Stockholm, Sweden, in the future.
By Kanak Jha, Cronkite News