Women-owned businesses are the fastest growing group of businesses in the United States. Minority-owned women businesses especially are growing. That's according to an interesting article by Erin Chambers in BusinessWeek:"Business ownership among women in general is growing at nearly twice the rate (17%) as all businesses (9%), according to a new report released this month by the Center for Women's Business Research. And the number of businesses owned by minority women, long the smallest segment of entrepreneurship in the U.S., is growing at six times the rate of all private companies, the study found."So what is driving this trend? The article cites two reasons, among others. First, women are being driven by their desire for economic independence. The second factor is the increased societal support -- there are simply more organizations to provide support for startups in general and for women in particular. For instance, I am preparing to drive to Pittsburgh tomorrow to attend an Advisory board meeting for a woman-owned business through the PowerLink program. PowerLink is a women's advocacy organization that did not even exist 15 years ago.I would also add one other key factor driving the growth in women-owned businesses: the Internet. The Internet has made it possible to spread the word about the entrepreneurial resources available. After all, what good are those resources if no one knows about them? The Internet has also fundamentally changed our access to the world around us. It enables a small business to have greater leverage and reach than it otherwise would. I have written about the growth in businesses by stay-at-home moms. Most of that growth wouldn't have happened if the women didn't have the Internet to open up possibilities and bring the outside world to them.