New York City Tops New Womenabling Cities Index

A new accounting of the most supportive cities for growth-oriented women entrepreneurs was recently released at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, just ahead of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. The WE Cities Index lists the 25 cities globally that provide the most supportive capital, technology, talent, culture and markets for growth-oriented women, a population they refer to as “high potential women entrepreneurs.” Those cities are:DellWECitieschart

  1. New York City
  2. the San Francisco Bay Area
  3. London
  4. Stockholm
  5. Singapore
  6. Toronto
  7. Washington, DC
  8. Sydney
  9. Paris
  10. Seattle
  11. Munich
  12. Austin
  13. Beijing
  14. Hong Kong
  15. Taipei
  16. Shanghai
  17. Tokyo
  18. Mexico City
  19. São Paulo
  20. Seoul
  21. Milan
  22. Delhi
  23. Johannesburg
  24. Jakarta
  25. Istanbul

For an interactive look at how each of these cities ranks in the five major index areas, visit this web page.

The WE Cities Index follows on the heels of the Global Women Entrepreneurs Scorecard, which was released the prior year. That effort analyzed 21 variables in a five-element framework, and ranked 31 countries around the globe for their supportive policies and programs to help women scale their enterprises. The findings of the country-focused effort (which was supported in part from Womenable) were highlighted in this Womenable blogpost from 2015.

Tops on that list were the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom — home to nine of the 25 top-ranked global cities for women entrepreneurs who are shooting for the stars. Godspeed on your journey, ladies!

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Four Womenabling Numbers You Should Know

At the recent Enterprising Women of the Year annual gathering, I spoke to other members of the Editorial Advisory Board to update them on trends in women’s entrepreneurship around the world. This year, I shared four key numbers that every womenabler should know. Here they are for all of you to know and share as well: infogram4numbers

69

For every 100 male business owners there are around the world, there are only 69 female business owners. (SOURCE: Babson College, 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Women’s Report, 2015)

392 million

The number of women business owners worldwide. (SOURCE: Womenable calculation based on data from the International Labour Organisation’s 2015 Key Indicators of the Labour Market report)

$285 billion

The estimated gender credit gap in developing economies around the world. (SOURCE: Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute, Giving credit where it is due, 2014)

$12 (or $28) trillion

The amount that would be added to global GDP if there were economic gender parity among all countries in each region of the world (the ‘best in region’ scenario, totaling $12T) or among all countries worldwide (the ‘full potential’ scenario, totaling $28T). (SOURCE: McKinsey Global Institute, The Power of Parity, 2015)

So, fellow womenablers, keep these four (or five) numbers at the ready. They not only indicate the amount of work we still have to do, but the benefits that will be realized once we approach economic parity. Onward and upward!

What Do Women Entrepreneurs Need to Grow? A New Initiative Keeps Score

It’s one thing to encourage more women to start their own entrepreneurial ventures, but what are the elements that can ensure their future growth and success? And what countries are doing a good (and not so good) job of providing a “womenabling” environment for growth-oriented women entrepreneurs? These are the questions asked – and answered – in the new Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard, a data-powered diagnostic tool developed by ACG Inc. with support from Dell.

The research team (of which Womenable is a member) considered the elements necessary for supporting growth-oriented, high-impact women entrepreneurs – AND what data are currently available on a regular basis – gathering and combining 21 data variables into an analytical framework comprised of five main elements:

  • Business environment;
  • Gendered access to resources;
  • Women’s leadership and legal rights;
  • A gendered entrepreneurial pipeline; and
  • Potential female entrepreneurial leaders.

DWEN_Global-Scorecard-ResultsThe resulting analysis, conducted among 31 economies that collectively account for 76% of global GDP, finds that the following countries provide the environment most conducive to supporting high-impact women’s entrepreneurship:

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. Australia
  4. Sweden
  5. United Kingdom

At the other end of the list are countries that are not so supportive:

  1. Bangladesh
  2. Pakistan
  3. India
  4. Egypt
  5. Tunisia

One important conclusion of the analysis is that even among highly-ranked countries there is much room for improvement, as the scores – calculated on a 0-100 scale – only reach 71 even in the top-ranked U.S.

And what can all of us do to help the cause? Several recommendations for action offered include:

  • Narrow the gender data gap by measuring progress of women entrepreneur-focused initiatives;
  • Prioritize female-owned businesses in public and private supply chains;
  • Promote and empower women in the workplace;
  • Raise the visibility of female role models in business; and
  • Build entrepreneurship skills for girls by investing in STEM education.

Learn more and download the GWEL Scorecard executive report and methodology at THIS WEB PAGE.

Grist for the Mill: Supporting Growth-Oriented Women Entrepreneurs

There’s increasing interest in moving beyond supporting the entry of more women into business ownership, toward a greater understanding of what growth-oriented women business owners need to get to the next level in their entrepreneurial journey. There are two new reports that shed some light on this issue.

gristmillFirst, infoDev, a multi-donor program in the World Bank Group, recently published Growing Women-led Enterprises in the Mekong: Testing a Methodology for Accelerating Growth. This report, supported by the government of Finland, pilot tested a series of workshops, peer-to-peer sessions and one-on-one coaching over a six-month period in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam.

Secondly, the World Bank’s Trade and Competitiveness group also just published a policy note entitled, Supporting Growth-Oriented Women Entrepreneurs: A Review of Evidence and Key Challenges, which draws upon and synthesizes existing research from within and outside the Bank.

Each of these reports is well worth reading on their own, but what is perhaps most interesting and relevant is that they draw some similar conclusions:

  • Short-term training with little or no follow-up does not always lead to measurable business growth. This can be a funding challenge for defined-length, externally sponsored projects and speaks of the need for a greater focus on sustainability measures and local partnerships;
  • Established women business owners benefit greatly from peer-to-peer learning. Merely providing networking opportunities for women business owners can reap valuable rewards;
  • Selecting women who are “growth-oriented” can be challenging: mindsets may matter as much as recent performance; and
  • Existing programs are very heterogeneous, with a wide variety of interventions. This reduces the ability to draw conclusions about what works best and share lessons learned.

Adding to this new information is some research conducted by Womenable way back in 2007, Mapping the Missing Middle: Determining the Desire and Dimensions of Second-Stage Women Business Owners, which not only raised the point that not enough policy and programmatic attention was being paid to established women-owned firms that had not yet cracked the million-dollar revenue barrier, but sized this population at between 16% (if defined to include firms with employees or between $100,000 and $1 million in revenues) and fully 91% (if having employees and revenues over $100,000 was not a criterion) of the entire women-owned business population. A short survey was conducted among established women business owners in the United States and found that “missing middle” women business owners:

  • Were indeed mostly growth-oriented – 64% were in search of tools for business growth;
  • Had a much greater appetite for information than the average woman business owner; and
  • Wanted to learn from one another, would prefer just-in-time, experiential learning over classroom-style information, and would value the guidance of a mentor.

We applaud this increased focus on providing “grist for the mill” of business growth – and for the grist provided by these two new reports!

Global Entrepreneurship Week Adds Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

GEW_mainLaunched with great fanfare by the Kauffman Foundation in 2007, Global Entrepreneurship Week celebrates the creative spirit and transformative power of entrepreneurs – taking a “Pied Piper” approach to encourage more people to think about “unleashing ideas” and launching entrepreneurial endeavors. Starting with 37 countries in 2007, there is now engagement in 150 countries in this, the eight year of the celebration. The 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Week takes place from November 17th to the 23rd.

What is this all about, you may ask? Check out the brief explanatory video below:

Why are we sharing this with you, fellow womenablers? Because, for the first time, the folks at GEW are adding in an official Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on Wednesday, November 19. (The midweek point has been used in a number of countries to mark the contributions of women entrepreneurs, but this year marks its official debut.)

Check out the list of events already scheduled on this day, or during the entire week, in your country. Or – better yet – consider organizing an event on the 19th to celebrate women’s entrepreneurship! Check out the GEW/WED page for ideas and resources. The GEW folks are “leading by example” by planning an event at the United Nations in New York City. More information about that particular event can be found HERE.

Women-Owned Firms Making Their Mark in Federal Procurement

As a firm grows and seeks new markets for its products and services, public sector clients can prove to be a winning avenue for expansion. That’s what many women business owners in the U.S. are finding, according to a series of recent surveys conducted among active small business contractors.

Puzzling Elements.The groundbreaking research – conducted for American Express OPEN’s Open for Government Contracts initiative by Womenable – queried business owners who are registered on the U.S. federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM) and who had performed on a contract within the previous five years. Surveys were conducted in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and – in addition to overall analysis among all small firms – special reports focusing on trends among women-owned firms were published.

According to these reports (which are listed and hyperlinked below), women-owned firms that are involved in contracting are every bit as accomplished in terms of employment and revenue size as their male counterparts. Specifically, over the past three surveys, we have learned that:

  • It takes time and money: In 2012, active small business contractors invested an average of $128,628 in time and money during the course of the year seeking federal procurement opportunities. This includes the time spent attending meetings and seminars, investigating opportunities online or in person, and preparing and submitting bids. Women business owners invested somewhat less – $112,112 – but were every bit as successful. On average, it took women-owned firms an average of 20 months and 4.3 bids before winning their first contract; very similar to the 25 months and 5 bids that it took men-owned firms.
  • Perseverance pays off: Once small firms are actively engaged in federal contracting, women-owned firms are every bit as accomplished in terms of business size as are their male colleagues. While in general, among all firms, women-owned firms are smaller than average, among active small business contractors, 31% of women and 30% of men employ 50 or more workers in their firms, and 42% and 48%, respectively, generate $1 million or more in revenue. Selling to the federal government can lead to substantial business growth!
  • Policies matter: Back in 1994, the federal government established a 5% spending goal for federal agencies to encourage contracting with women-owned small businesses. That goal has never been met, but in fiscal year 2012 it reached 4%. There’s hope that the goal will finally be reached by virtue of a recently-established WOSB Procurement Program, which gives federal agency procurement personnel more flexibility in letting out contracts for bids (including lifting prior caps on the value of contracts that could be awarded to women-owned firms). From the perspective of active women business owner contractors, the program is starting to find its footing. Back in the 2011 survey, when the program was just launched, just over one-third (37%) of women surveyed said they found the program useful in seeking federal contracting opportunities. Now, in the 2013 survey, the view has improved considerably – fully 61% find the program useful, including 28% who find it very or extremely useful. With this playing field-leveling policy, more and more women are finding federal procurement success.

Click on the links below to download and read these reports. You may also wish to read more about the American Express OPEN/SBA/WIPP ChallengeHer program or learn more about the status of the newly-strengthened Women-Owned Small Business Procurement program. According to recent procurement statistics, even though the overall 23% small business procurement goal was recently met, the 5% goal for federal spending with women-owned small businesses was not – nor has it ever – been met. A sure sign, if there ever was one, that more needs to be done to increase access for women-owned small businesses to this important avenue for growth.

2013 – Women-Owned Small Businesses in Federal Procurement: Building Momentum, Reaping Rewards

2011 – Women and Minority Small Business Contractors: Divergent Paths for Equal Success

2010 – Women and Minority Federal Small Business Contractors: Greater Challenges, Deeper Motivations, Different Strategies, and Equal Success

State of Women-Owned Businesses Report Published

Hey, fellow womenablers, your long wait is over! The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses report has now been published. You can view the American Express OPEN web summary HERE, or click HERE to simply download the full report.women_racing

We now have the most up-to-date accounting of the number and growth trends among women-owned businesses in the United States. As of 2014, we (Womenable authored the report, American Express OPEN underwrote and published it) estimate that there are 9,087,200 majority-owned and privately-held women-owned firms, employing 7,854,200 employees in addition to the owner, and generating over $1.4 trillion ($1,410,940,800,000) in revenues. What are some of the other key trends uncovered in this year’s report? Among them:

  • Between 1997 and 2014, when the number of businesses in the United States increased by 47%, the number of women-owned firms increased by 68% – a rate 1-1/2 times the national average. Indeed, the growth in the number (up 68%), employment (up 11%) and revenues (up 72%) of women-owned firms over the past 17 years exceeds the growth rates of all but the largest, publicly-traded firms – topping growth rates among all other privately-held businesses over this period.
  • Nationally, the number of women-owned firms has increased by 68% since 1997. The states with the fastest growth in the number of women-owned firms over the past 17 years are: Georgia (up 118%), Texas (98%), North Carolina (91%), Nevada (91%) and Mississippi (81%). In terms of growth in combined economic clout, however – meaning averaging together the rankings in growth in the number, revenues and employment of women-owned firms – the states in which all of these measures combined place women-owned firms in a much better than average position over the 1997 to 2014 period are: North Dakota, the District of Columbia, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia.
  • In 1997, there were just under 1 million (929,445) firms owned by women of color, accounting for one in six (17%) women-owned firms. That number has skyrocketed to an estimated 2,934,500 as of 2014, now comprising one in three (32%) women-owned firms. Firms owned by African American women number an estimated 1,237,900 as of 2014. These 1.2 million firms employ 287,100 workers in addition to the owner and generate an estimated $49.5 billion in revenue. Firms owned by Latinas number an estimated 1,033,100 as of 2014. These firms employ 433,600 workers in addition to the owner and generate an estimated $71.1 billion in revenue. Firms owned by Asian American women number an estimated 675,900 as of 2014. These firms employ 699,200 workers in addition to the owner and generate an estimated $115 billion in revenue.
  • While firms owned by women of color are smaller than non-minority women-owned businesses both in terms of average employment and revenues, their growth in number and economic clout is generally far outpacing that of all women-owned firms. Indeed, the growth in the number of African American (up 296% from 1997 to 2014), Asian American (+179%), Latina (+206%), Native American/ Alaska Native (124%), and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (+247%) women-owned firms all top the growth in the number of non-minority women-owned firms (+37%) over the past 17 years.

New this year is a look at business start-up activity, which shows that there are an increasing number of women business owners at the starting gate. On average over the past 17 years, there has been a net increase* of 591 women-owned businesses each and every day. The number of net new women-owned firms has fallen in the wake of the recession – there was a net increase of 714 women-owned firms per day from 2002 to 2007, and a lesser 506 per day between 2007 and 2014 – but start-up activity is increasing. Just in the past year, there have been an estimated 1,288 net new women-owned firms launched each and every day.

What’s the bottom line? Women business owners are not only here to stay, they are moving into entrepreneurship in equal numbers. The challenge that remains is moving women-owned firms up the growth continuum, and gaining a greater understanding of impediments to growth and how best to follow a woman’s path from a start-up with promise to a successful business that moves beyond the “majority-owned, privately-held” category to being woman-led and perhaps publicly-traded.

* “Net increase” takes into account all of the new women-owned firms minus the number of women-owned firms that either ceased operations or ceased to be majority women-owned.