Supporting Female Entrepreneurs
The statistics around female entrepreneurship are either non-existent or depressingly bleak. Alicia Robb, a senior fellow with the Kauffman Foundation and a prominent researcher on issues of gender, race, and entrepreneurship notes that over the last 15 years 85% of all venture-funded businesses have completely male executive teams with no females in leadership roles. What’s worse is that only 2.7% of venture-funded businesses have female CEOs. Right now, in 2016, the face of entrepreneurship is still male. How can we change that face? How can we make that face more diverse across gender and race?
Well, it starts with community and our little community in Boulder has been making strides toward a more equal entrepreneurial environment. MergeLane, an accelerator that only accepts applications from companies with at least one female in its leadership team, “discovers, accelerates, and invests in exceptional women and the companies they run.” Further, the global organization Women Who Startup, which is based in Denver, has built a fantastic community to support female entrepreneurship. By hosting monthly events and providing educational tools and resources, Women Who Startup is creating a vibrant virtual world of female business leaders.
Organizations like these are crucial for catalyzing change and improving the number of female entrepreneurs who are able to secure venture funding and, eventually, build successful businesses. It is important to point out, though, that is starts with the funding. Investment in female-led businesses is the first step to creating widespread and meaningful change. If investors don’t see women as successful business leaders, then they won’t invest in their companies, and women will not be given the opportunity to excel as entrepreneurs. Alicia Robb’s Next Wave Ventures and its Rising Tide Program is trying to change that. By securing investment commitments from 99 female angel investors, the Rising Tide Program seeks to bridge the gender gap in angel investing and hopefully bridge the gender gap in entrepreneurship overall as a result. With better access to funding, better access to accelerators, mentors, and resources, and a supportive, active community, female entrepreneurs can start to make head way to bridge the gender gap in entrepreneurship.