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New directory brings woman-owned businesses to the forefront

December 8, 2021
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Maine is a stronghold of woman-owned businesses. From hotels to artisan marketplaces to gourmet restaurants in Portland’s foodie scene, it’s no secret that these businesses make our communities tick. 

And now, for the first time, you’ll be able to find them all in one place. 

Maine Women’s Business List is the first public directory of woman-owned businesses in our state. The Women’s Business Center at Coastal Enterprises Incorporated (CEI) launched the directory in November. At, patrons can access a list of area businesses that are at least 50% woman-owned (CEI “aligns with the definition of women and female that explicitly includes not only cis women, but also trans women and femme/feminine-identifying genderqueer and non-binary individuals”). The easy-to-use site allows users to search by town or by service offered. Any Maine woman who owns a business can register with the directory for free. 

The directory follows on the heels of initiatives such as Black Owned Maine and Wabanaki Marketplace, which elevate the voices of Maine entrepreneurs who face systemic inequities. Despite our state economy’s reliance on small businesses - a large portion of which are owned and operated by women - there hasn’t been, until now, a central hub for woman-owned businesses in Maine.

Sarah Guerette, Director of the Women’s Business Center, was surprised that this particular niche hadn’t been filled. 

“We know that there is a desire to support woman-owned businesses in Maine – we see it every day - and that it can be challenging to identify which businesses are owned by women,” says Guerette. “At the CEI Women’s Business Centers we frequently receive calls from individuals who want to shop woman-owned for the holidays, institutions looking for a woman-owned vendor or supplier and media outlets who want to feature woman-owned business. But because gender isn’t recorded when a business is registered at the City, State or Federal level, this list simply doesn’t exist. By creating the Maine Women’s Business List, our hope is that it becomes easier to find, support and highlight the many businesses owned by Maine’s amazing female entrepreneurs.”

Guerette and her colleagues estimate that there are over 40,000 businesses in Maine with female leadership. These women face a series of barriers in getting their product to the public. It can be harder for women to access capital. They can be taken less seriously by potential business associates. They are expected to be simultaneously authoritative and “feminine,” not to mention the enduring “mommy track” culture, in which young women face increasing pressure to shift their energy to child-rearing. 

None of this is new information to anyone who has been paying attention; it’s all the more reason to celebrate female entrepreneurs who manage to succeed in these less-than-ideal circumstances. And that’s exactly what the Maine Women’s Business List aims to do. Mainers, after all, support Mainers.

Guerette has also seen the directory becoming a medium for connection among business owners. 

“We’ve already seen examples of women in business hiring others on the list to do their graphic design, supply their shops, provide counsel, or help them grow,” says Guerette. “We love this synergy.” 

(Visit to view the directory and follow CEI Women’s Business Center on Facebook.)

Last modified on Thursday, 09 December 2021 12:58
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