Hashtag Feminism Putting #WomenontheMap

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These days, social conversations reverberate quickly around the globe on social media, spawning the term “hashtag activism.” Within that genre, hashtag feminism is alive and well (there’s even a web site, hashtagfeminism.com, that comments on the most viral tags). Earlier this month, I pointed out that the #internationalwomensday theme for 2015 was #MakeItHappen, which thus allowed people to search for this tag to learn about what events were taking place on IWD2015 around the world.

Some of the most popular recent women’s empowerment hashtags have been protests against misogyny (#NotBuyingIt, #GirlsCount, #WomenShould, #YesAllWomen and its corollary #AllMenCan) or calls to support and amplify female voices and change agents (#AllinforHer and #ChangetheRatio are two of the most well-known).

There are three new hashtags, though, that I’d like to point out – as they have the potential to dominate the “airwaves” in the months to come:

1. @UN_Women’s #HeforShe, a call for men to rally and join in on the fight for gender equality. This hashtag campaign was launched by Gen Y’s feminist heroine, Emma Watson. (Check out her eloquent address at a recent United Nations event below.)

2. The Clinton and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations’ recent launch of the No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project report, a data- and video-driven web portal (and, oh yes, a report) launched with great fanfare at a splashy event on March 9, with its accompanying #NotThere social media campaign featuring well-known portraits, magazine covers etc. with women missing – making the point that we’re not there yet with respect to gender equality. Check out the humorous short video illustrating that point.

3. A grassroots, youth-led effort by SPARK Movement to put #WomenontheMap – literally. This group has partnered with Google to map the locations of important women in history around the work on Google’s FieldTrip app. The app will notify users when they are near a landmark location. What a fantastic concept – and there’s room for more. SPARK asks for our help in sharing with them important women (no longer living) to add to the app. Let’s let them have it, shall we? Learn more here.

Top Ten Womenabling Research Facts of 2014

Top TenWe’ve kept tabs on the facts and figures that have been published during the course of the year (as we do every year). Here are what we consider to be the top ten new research-based facts about women business owners and their enterprises of 2014. They fall into four general categories: money, mentoring, metrics and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Here they are, along with links to the original source material for your reference. Many happy returns of the season from Womenable!

Money

  1. International CurrencyClosing the credit cap for women-owned SMEs across the developing world as a whole could boost the growth in per capita income by over 110 basis points (1.1%) on average. ~ Goldman Sachs Global Market Institute. February 2014. Giving credit where it is due.

  2. In an analysis of over 25,000 projects on Kickstarter, launched by 22,000 entrepreneurs between 2009 and 2012 and supported by over 1.1 million investors, researchers found that this crowdfunding platform is more hospitable than many other forms of business financing for women. For example: 1) a significant share of Kickstarter investors (40%) are women; 2) these women are more likely than men (40% versus 23%) to invest in women-led projects; and 3) women-led projects are more successful than those launched by men. The fundraising success rate for women was 69.5%, compared to 61.4% for men. ~ Dan Maroum, Alicia Robb, Orly Sade. May 2014. Gender Dynamics in Crowdfunding (Kickstarter): Evidence on Entrepreneurs, Investors, Deals and Taste Based Discrimination.


  3. The amount of early-stage investment in companies with a woman on the executive team has tripled to 15 percent from 5 percent in the last 15 years. Despite this positive trend, 85 percent of all venture capital–funded businesses have no women on the executive team. This is the case despite the finding that businesses with a woman on the executive team are more likely to have higher valuations at both first and last funding (64 percent higher and 49 percent higher, respectively). ~ Candida G. Brush, Patricia G. Greene, Lakshmi Balachandra, Amy E. Davis. September 2014. Women Entrepreneurs 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital.


  4. In 2013 women angels represented 19.4% of the angel market, similar to 2012 (21.8%). Women-owned ventures accounted for 23% of the entrepreneurs that were seeking angel capital and 19% of these women entrepreneurs received angel investment in 2013. ~ Jeffrey Sohl, Center for Venture Research. April 2014. The Angel Investor Market in 2013: A Return to Seed Investing.

Mentors

  1. Closeup of business people with hands on handsAn analysis of high-growth women entrepreneurs (those with sales or employment growth of 20%+ over the past three years) in Latin America and the Caribbean finds that growing up in an entrepreneurial family helps define their entrepreneurial spirit. Both high-growth men and women are more likely than average to seek mentors to guide their growth. However, while high-growth men entrepreneurs seek mentors from outside their family, women tend to receive guidance from within their own families. ~ EY, Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank. March 2014. WEGrow: Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

  2. A comparison of a survey of women in technology firms launched between 2002 and 2012 with a more general sampling of technology firms founded in 2004 (the Kauffman Firm Survey) finds that female and male entrepreneurs have a lot in common. They would seem to start their companies for similar reasons, cite similar self-perceived reasons for success, and face similar challenges. However, several differences stand out: 1) the women technology entrepreneurs surveyed don’t appear to have had inspiring role models as their principal motivation; 2) women entrepreneurs in general appear to respond differently than men do to failure, and cite lessons learned from failure as a big reason for success; and 3) there is a financing gap when it comes to high-tech and high-potential women entrepreneurs. That financing gap turns into a growth gap in terms of company outcomes. Finding ways to fill that financing gap could have a huge payoff in job creation and innovation. ~ Alicia Robb, Susan Coleman, Dane Stangler. November 2014. Sources of Economic Hope: Women’s Entrepreneurship.

Metrics

  1. measuring_tape copyIn an analysis of the conditions in which growth-oriented women’s entrepreneurship can prosper, the United States (with a score of 83), Australia (80) and Sweden (73) are the top ranking countries among 30 analyzed. They are followed by France and Germany (tied at 67), Chile (55), the United Kingdom (54) and Poland (51) which all received an overall score of 50 or more. ~ Ruta Aidis, The GEDI Institute. June 2014. The Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index.

  2. As of 2012, just under one-third (29%) of the 40.6 million business owners in Europe are women, up from 26% in 2003. Over that nine-year period, the share of business owners who are female has risen most strongly in Lichtenstein (with a 16% increase in the share of entrepreneurs who are female), Iceland (+8%), and Cyprus (+8%), compared with the overall 3% increase. ~ European Commission. September 2014. Statistical Data on Women Entrepreneurs in Europe.


  3. On average over the past 17 years, there has been a net increase of 591 women-owned businesses in the United States 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. ~ American Express OPEN & Womenable. March 2014. The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

STEM

  1. womanlab copyWomen have increased their representation in STEM graduate enrollment, but that increase has been uneven across STEM fields. Women have achieved parity for PhDs in biological and medical sciences, but their enrollment continues to lag in some of the most entrepreneurial fields, such as bioengineering, mechanical, and civil engineering and materials science. Further, across all STEM fields, female PhDs have lower rates of entrepreneurship than their male colleagues (5% compared to 7%), and file fewer patents (15% vs. 28%). ~ Margaret E. Blume-Kohout for SBA Office of Advocacy. October 2014. Understanding the Gender Gap in STEM Fields Entrepreneurship.

  2. (A 2-for-1 listing: this report also appeared in our ‘mentors’ category) A comparison of a survey of women in technology firms launched between 2002 and 2012 with a more general sampling of technology firms founded in 2004 (the Kauffman Firm Survey) finds that female and male entrepreneurs have a lot in common. They would seem to start their companies for similar reasons, cite similar self-perceived reasons for success, and face similar challenges. However, several differences stand out: 1) the women technology entrepreneurs surveyed don’t appear to have had inspiring role models as their principal motivation; 2) women entrepreneurs in general appear to respond differently than men do to failure, and cite lessons learned from failure as a big reason for success; and 3) there is a financing gap when it comes to high-tech and high-potential women entrepreneurs. That financing gap turns into a growth gap in terms of company outcomes. Finding ways to fill that financing gap could have a huge payoff in job creation and innovation. ~ Alicia Robb, Susan Coleman, Dane Stangler. November 2014. Sources of Economic Hope: Women’s Entrepreneurship.

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!

Investing in Women-Owned Firms

moneyhandBuying From Them

E-commerce accounts for an ever-growing share of consumer spending. According to the US Commerce Department, e-sales accounted for 37% of retail sales in the first half of 2014. Online sales are up 57% in the US from 2010 to 2013, up 278% in China over that same period, and are projected to increase 11% per year for the next three years in Europe.

So, when buying online, why not purchase products made by women-owned firms? It’s increasingly easy to do so – by going to these women-owned business product web sites:

wemadethat_630x420You may also want to make note of Walmart’s new women-owned label (depicted at right). The result of a collaboration between Walmart, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and WEConnect International, the label will be gracing products on the shelves of the world’s largest retailer very soon.

Investing in Them

About 5% of venture capital investments are made in women-led firms, and about 12% of angel capital investments are likewise made in women-led enterprises. But, according to crowdfunding platform Indiegogo – co-founded by a woman – fully 42% of their funding campaigns are launched by women, and these women raise 11% more money than do the men who launch crowdfunding campaigns on their platform.

Indeed, crowdfunder Kickstarter recently found that women investees are outperforming their male counterparts on that platform as well.

Another female-founded crowdfunding platform, soon to be relaunched, is Plum Alley.

If investing individually isn’t your thing, why not consider investing in a female-friendly family of funds? That’s the motivation behind two new investment funds, Barclay’s Women in Leadership Exchange Traded Notes, and Pax Ellevate’s Global Women’s Index Fund, spearheaded by former banking executive Sallie Krawcheck. While both of these funds are new, we look forward to more of them sprouting up as their rates of return start tracking upward. Kudos to these two funds for leading the way!

Learn more about investing in women-owned and -led firms at these links:

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.

2nd Annual Gender-GEDI Report Reveals Most Womenabling Economies

Yesterday, Dell hosted the fifth gathering of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (#DWEN) in its hometown, Austin Texas. In addition to sharing their own stories of struggle and success, these women of accomplishment also saw Dell release their second annual Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index report (also known by the moniker #Gender-GEDI). The Index analyzes the conditions favorable for high-growth potential women entrepreneurs – including laws, programs, and individual characteristics. This year saw the analysis expand from 17 to 30 countries, which collectively account for 66% of the world’s female population and 75% of global GDP. The analysis finds that:Woman hiking to Everest basecamp

  • The most womenabling economies in the world are the United States, Australia and Sweden, with scores of 83, 80 and 73, respectively. They are followed by France and Germany (tied at 67), Chile (55), the United Kingdom (54) and Poland (51);
  • With the top tier economies receiving scores of 51 to 83 on a 0-100 scale, there is room for improvement. Indeed, the other 22 countries received scores under 50, including four countries (Uganda, Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan) receiving Gender-GEDI scores under 20;
  • Among the 17 countries included in both the 2013 and 2014 Gender GEDI Index reports, four increased their ranking and four declined. Japan improved the most, up three places from 12th to 9th. Brazil jumped two places, from 14th to 12th. The biggest decline was seen in Malaysia, which dropped four spots, from 9th to 13th; and
  • When comparing the rankings of countries included in the Gender-GEDI analysis with those also included in the non-gendered GEDI rankings, ten countries rank better for high-potential women’s entrepreneurship than for general entrepreneurial conditions. In alphabetical order, they are: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Germany, Ghana, Mexico, Panama, Russia, South Africa, and Thailand.

Read more about the report’s highlights in the study news release, and click HERE to learn more about the Gender-GEDI and how it is constructed. And for you fellow statistical mavens, click HERE to download and read the 46-page executive report. A more complete report, including background tables and more country-level detail, will be available soon – and when it is, you’ll be able to find it on Womenable’s Reference Library web page.

NWBC Publishes 2013 Annual Report

The National Women’s Business Council, a bipartisan women’s enterprise advisory body in the US established by the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, has published their 2013 annual report to the President, US Congress, and the US Small Business Administration.
NWBC-2013AnnualReport-cover
The colorful 40-page report contains nine policy/program recommendations grouped within four pillars (Guess which one is our favorite!):

  1. Access to Capital
  2. Access to Markets
  3. Job Creation and Growth
  4. Data

Among the recommendations are two, in our view, worth calling out and commenting upon:

  • Implement an annual Survey of Business Owners model-based program.” The SBO is the Census Bureau’s quinquennial business census, which provides we womenablers with a mother-lode of invaluable statistics on the number and growth of women-owned firms. However, being quinquennial means that the data are only published every five years, and business moves much faster than that. Of course, Womenable and American Express OPEN have published an annual State of Women-Owned Businesses reports that provide estimates in between SBO reports (see a listing of these reports HERE), but more frequent government-published data would be extraordinarily useful. However, such an expansion of SBO is also very unlikely, given the expense required and the current state of the US budget. And yet, to paraphrase Robert Browning,

    “Ah, but a woman’s reach should exceed her grasp,
    Or what’s a heaven for?”

  • Increase the number of women-owned or -led firms participating in incubators and accelerators and consider establishing an accelerator and incubator program focused on women-owned or -led firms.” Womenable has long pointed out the need for paying much more attention to issues of growth and development of existing women-owned enterprises. This is another timely recommendation, but the NWBC missed an important opportunity to call out a key partnership in this endeavor: the Nation’s 100+ women’s business centers. Rather than trying to make existing incubators and business accelerators more female-friendly (good luck with that), we should expand the remit of and financial support for WBCs to offer growth-focused programming. Indeed, most of them already do – but they are doing so outside the “marching orders” provided to them by the SBA and Congress, which essentially puts WBCs in velvet handcuffs and says that all government funds can only go toward serving nascent firms and socially and economically disadvantaged populations.

The Council has done a good job of keeping the momentum going over a period – over the past three or more years, really – of staff and leadership turnover. There’s a new Chair in place, but no Executive Director at the moment. Despite that, they’ve published a report that’s well worth reading, and using for womenabling advocacy efforts in the United States and beyond. Keep up the good work, NWBC!