Today, March 8, marks the unofficial 110th celebration of International Women's Day. This day is not only a celebratory day, it's also a reminder of the work that's still left to do in gaining gender parity. While there are a million people and subjects we could've highlighted on this day, we decided to stay true to the Vanderbilt way of highlighting and celebrating the women entrepreneurs in our lives and the overall contribution they're making to our global economy.
Women entrepreneurs have gained tremendous traction in the past 10 years and have been heralded for a significant contribution in growing the global economy. Below are points culled from the various depths of the internet to shed light on disparities, highlight our growth and point out the areas for increased opportunity:
The internet has often been called the nickname of the "great democratizer". While that nickname can be argued on many fronts, there is no doubt that our increased connectivity has opened the doors for many women around the globe. The continued rise of E-commerce has given option and opportunity to many women to remain the main caregiver for their family at home while also cultivating an online business. As Entrepreneur magazine points out, many global women have begun selling homemade wares online. Everything from fashion, jewelry, home furnishing, food, cosmetics and self care, to name a few, are popping up across sites like Amazon, Etsy and through social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. This not only provides work mobility and flexibility, it also affords increased financial independence for women caregivers on an international scale.
Women Supporting Women
Geekwire recently released a study that shows women-led ventures outperform their male counterparts in revenue generation and financial returns to investors, yet receive significantly less VC funding (by less funding, we mean only 3% of overall VC funding in the US). Many have pointed to the lack of women investors in VC firms as being a main reason for this disparity. While this sounds like grim news for women entrepreneurs, trends are actually showing that in increasing the leadership/partnership of women investors at VC firms, women-led start-ups receive more funding. Geekwire highlights a quote from Gillian Muessig, CEO of Seattle-based Outlines Venture Group and founder of Sybilla Masters Fund: “More female venture capitalists is directly correlated with more female founders getting funding,” she said. “I believe there is not only correlation, but causation. This is exciting for female founders and for the world at large.” Read their full highlight of the 50 women VC and angel investors making a difference here.
Women-Owned Businesses on the Rise
WBENC reports that as of 2018, there are 12.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., up from the 2012 census report of 9.9 million. Overall that amounts to 4 out of every 10 business are women-owned. More women-owned businesses also brought higher levels of employment: "From 2007 – 2018, total employment by women-owned businesses rose 21%, while employment for all businesses declined by 0.8%." Taking it a step further, women of color drove the majority of the growth, accounting for 47% of all women-owned businesses, employing 2.2 million people and generating $386.6 billion in revenues.
As we celebrate the above accomplishments made by women entrepreneurs, let's not forgot the work that lies ahead. Here are some real and tangible ways to help women entrepreneurs succeed:
- Buy from women-owned businesses. Use your spending power to leverage your ideals and values.
- Support women entrepreneurs through mentorship. Regardless of your gender, women often receive less mentorship opportunities than men. Support women-owned businesses through sharing your knowledge and passion.
- Advocate for more women in leadership roles. Whether it's through VC firms or on start-up leadership teams, increased gender representation across the board leads to greater performance (not just financially, impact as well!).
Happy International Women's Day and Women's History Month! Keep on the lookout for more blog posts highlighting the women of our industry!