Happy International Women’s Day! This day is very close to my heart as I share my birthday with it. I can’t think of a bigger honor or a better way to celebrate than to share my birthday with all women.
At Endeavor, we recognize that the opportunity behind supporting female entrepreneurs is massive. Therefore, we’re taking the necessary steps to ensure our organization is identifying and supporting female entrepreneurs in our ecosystem, through the creation of female-only growth programs. Last year, we were lucky enough to support an incredible group of female founders through our EndeavorLAB and Growth Bootcamp programs. These graduates are now part of our community of founders and receive special support to connect them to the right resources, in order to ensure their growth post-program.
My professional and personal experiences have shown me that there is tremendous power in connecting women with each other. By creating safe spaces for women to engage in meaningful peer-to-peer relationships, we’re unlocking the power of collaboration and synergy. But my reasons to believe in this type of support are beyond anecdotal – Endeavor has the data to back it up.
According to research by Endeavor Insight, women represent 53 percent of college-educated workers in the United States, and make up a majority of all accountants and financial managers. In 2017, more than 1.1 million women-led businesses generated $1.5 billion in revenue and created more than 10 million jobs.
Unfortunately, two of the largest obstacles women face are a lack of access to capital and a small professional network. According to Cruchbase’s report “A Decade in Review: Funding to the Female Founders”, women only secured 2.8% of total startup investment despite women making up 40% of all entrepreneurs in the country. Additionally, female founders only constitute 15% of businesses that reach a scale of 50+ employees. This results in a small pool of potential mentors that personally understand the challenges female entrepreneurs face.
Currently, women are still less likely to start and scale businesses than men. Yet, Endeavor Insight’s analysis reveals that accelerating the growth of women-owned businesses to the scale of 50+ employees can generate over 4 million new jobs and $500 billion in additional productivity each year to the U.S. GDP. Moreover, only 15% of businesses at that scale are owned by women. In order to reach the metrics presented by the analysis, women have to scale their businesses at the same rate as men. So, how do we achieve this? Endeavor Insight provides three recommendations to support women entrepreneurs.
#1: Curate programs and events to increase access and deepen engagement among female founders, including underrepresented groups.
Designing a program for women won’t look exactly like it would for men, and it needs to incorporate elements that are best for all the diverse types of women who participate. Ensure that female entrepreneurs feel like they belong at the events they are invited to, take into account that entrepreneurs may need help arranging childcare or ADA accommodations. Recruit a diverse set of participants; underrepresented individuals deal with similar systematic biases and discrimination. With these factors taken into consideration, women entrepreneurs can build their professional networks and gain a sense of belonging in the greater business community.
#2: Increase support for women who are scaling their businesses.
Few programs are dedicated to guiding women beyond the early stages of their company’s growth. To address this issue, EndeavorLAB’s Cohort One launched in 2020 as an accelerator program guiding ten female entrepreneurs in South Florida towards scale, by providing the necessary tools, services, and network. Peer support and mentorship provide a reliable network for these growing entrepreneurs to consult as they face the challenges of scaling their businesses. We welcome other accelerator programs to join us in this pursuit and support women founders in more communities across the country!
#3: Reduce gender-related bias among investors throughout every step of the investment process.
It’s very important to reduce prejudice across the board. Sharon Vosmek CEO of Astia, an organization dedicated to advancing women’s participation as entrepreneurs and leaders in high-growth businesses, states that investors should take note of the biases that exist within society. Astia eliminates biases by removing the referral requirement the investment industry utilizes, screening calls for prospective businesses utilizing audio only, and refraining from asking “who else has invested?” as hearing “no one” may not be a result of the company’s merit. Astia hopes that other investment firms will also put measures in place to reduce bias and increase the diversity of their investment portfolios.
We still have a long way to go to achieve gender parity in the United States. Yet, I am hopeful that by continuing to support women we will see them thrive as leaders, entrepreneurs, business executives and more. At Endeavor Miami, we are committed to continuing to create the necessary programs, connections and safe spaces for female entrepreneurs to develop peer to peer support networks in order to scale their ventures.
Additional reporting provided by Endeavor staff member Laura Ginebra.