Devishobha Chandramouli recently came to me with a clear cut problem in business: Women face systemic social and financial challenges while starting a business. Rather than just complain about it, she took the time to compile a list of 25 enterprises that are determined to help women succeed by focusing on the unique challenges they face. In her own words:
We hear it over and over again. We hear it in the form of the "lean-in" message or in the form of companies instituting parent-friendly policies to encourage women employees. We hear it when economists agree "economic empowerment of women across the rich world is one of the most remarkable revolutions of the past 50 years". We hear it when we see statistics flashing that women contribute $3 trillion to the economy.
We hear that women are the rising tribe of entrepreneurs. That they own 36% of all businesses. That the golden age for women entrepreneurship has begun.
Yet, we come across facts like these: Women get 33 million less capital than men for their ventures.
That 90% of all startups that raised series A funding never saw a female founder. That men start with almost 6 times more capital than women do.
That 43% of them leave the workforce after having children and struggle to get back; no matter how smart or productive they are after they become parents. That a growing number of women are returning to work as "momprenuers"; undoubtedly because many of them do not find the flexibility they need to work in a corporate setting while raising a young family.
It's a fact that women face systemic social and financial challenges while starting a business.
Here is a list of 25 enterprises that are determined to propel women into success by focusing on the unique challenges they face.
1. 37 Angels
37 Angels is a network of 50 women investors whose mission is to focus on the holistic entrepreneurial support for women. With a keen spotlight on early investment education, they train women investors as much as aspiring women founders of startups. The network picks about 8 companies every 2 months to pitch to their network of investors and invest between 50-150 K into each company.
2. Ladies Who Launch
Ladies who Launch was founded with the sole intention of providing inspiration and advice to women entrepreneurs. From templates for business or marketing plans,to free advice and inspiring stories of other female entrepreneurs, this website provides as much inspiration as practical advice.
BusinessUSA's mission is to help small businesses and exporters navigate the world of Government regulations by connecting them to services and information relevant to them through the intervention of technology. They have special support programs for women-owned businesses including special certification courses for businesses that show at least 51% ownership by women.
SCORE helps entrepreneurs thrive by mentoring and educating them through small vibrant communities. Every year, SCORE's volunteers freely give over 1 million hours of their time to support their communities. They also have special programs for women to them locate everything they need to kick start and grow their business.
5. Goldman Sachs 10000 Women
Goldman Sachs 10000 Women initiative is a stunningly successful one with women from over 56 countries benefiting from the program. It's thriving network of over 100 academic and non-profit centers that come together to give the requisite tools and training to women business owners. A recent extension of this program is The Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility. This is a partnership between The Goldman Sachs Foundation, IFC, and other investors contributing up to $600 million to enable approximately 100,000 women entrepreneurs to access capital.
6. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration in partnership with the Office of Women's Business Ownership and other organizations strives to provide the best possible resources to women entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a business, applying for a business loan, finding government contracting opportunities, or expanding an existing business.
The National Association for Female Executives has women executives, professionals and business owners as members that carry forward NAFE's mission- to provide the best resources, advocacy and networking opportunities to help other women advance in business.
The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) has emerged as a thought leader on women's business issues. It is committed to strengthening the wealth-creating capacity of women with the help of strategic partnerships with corporate partners and other non-profit organizations and public-policy advocacy.
9. Count Me in
Recognized as the first online micro-lender, Count Me Inhas dedicated itself to fueling the mindset of growth and success among the women entrepreneur community. Count Me In has designed 3 major initiatives to support its community of women business owners
- The Make Mine a Million $ Business (M3) program provides women with small businesses with revenues of $85,000 to $750,000 to the $1 million mark and beyond in annual revenues.
- The Urban Rebound program is designed to strengthen the women entrepreneur community by providing $50,000-$150,000 in annual revenues and help them grow to the $250,000 threshold.
- The Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC) program in association with the Capital One Financial Corporation is a three-year business growth initiative designed specifically for women business owners who are veterans or spouses/domestic partners of veterans looking to grow their businesses quickly and sustainably.
Founded in 1998, the Association of Women's Business Centres is a national non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and supports women entrepreneurs through a sustainable national network of over 100 Women's Business Centers (WBC). The WBCs provide training, mentoring, business development and financing opportunities to see many women through success in business every year.
The National Women's Business Council (NWBC) acts as an independent voice for women entrepreneurs and provides independent counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. The council is focused on providing a platform to improve business opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
12. BOND STREET
Bond Street brings a comprehensive collection of resources that offer support specifically for women entrepreneurs in the form of investment, community support or professional advice.
The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce helps women start and grow successful business and provides opportunities and information required to gain access to government contacts. They pride themselves on being "non-captive" and being solely focused on building a positive business community for women in a variety of roles, including business owners.
14. Walker's Legacy
Walker's Legacy is another enterprise that recognizes and appreciates the need for support and resources for women of color. Walker's Legacy lends support to "walkers" in the form of information and inspiration through networking in their open forum.
Springboard seeks to build technology companies with high growth potential that are led by women. Springboard identifies the businesses that they can advise and support through their various programs and initiatives.
16. Women's Business Development Council
The Women's Business Development Council's strives to provide a strong foundation to women-owned businesses by coaching and counseling women on their financial needs through their seminars and long-term financial coaching.
17. Million Dollar Women
Julia Pimsleur, founder of Little Pim and author of "Million Dollar Women: The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big" has found a way to address the gap women often face find in fundraising. Hereducation initiative by the same name that dedicates itself to propelling a million women into the "Triple Win' zone - Money, Meaning and Mobility.
18. Women Startup Lab
Women Startup Lab started as an interest group in and quickly grew into an accelerator focused on female founders and their teams; focusing on CEO development, transformative coaching & company growth.
19. Female Founder Stories
Female Founder Stories is a collection of interviews and insights from the female alumni of YCombinator; an accelerator that helps startups with seed funding. They also help them find investors and sometimes even acquirers once they are ready to move on to the next stage of funding.
The Women's Business Development Center (WBDC) is a non-profit with a range of programs designed to assist women at every stage of business development and growth.
21. CHIC CEO
Chic CEO is a trusted online resource for women entrepreneurs with information on practical how-tos, tools, techniques and the strength of a community; that helps you take the plunge if you are staring at a blind spot right now.
eWomenNetwork presents a dynamic network of brilliant women entrepreneurs, business owners and corporate professionals. It provides a headstart for women in the network to market and promote their companies along with access to important resources and influencers.
23. The Founding Moms
The Founding Moms is a unique mix of offline meetups and online resources where moms talk as much about the balancing act as about the business and growth strategies.
Astia focuses on providing capital, support, connections and guidance to highly innovative, women-led ventures around the globe.
25. The MOGUL MOM
The Mogul Mom provides in-depth articles, resources and insights from successful entrepreneurs to show the path to other aspiring moms that growing and business and a family at the same time is possible.
Devishobha Chandramouli stumbled into the world of writing when she decided to chronicle her parenting experience with her two little girls on Kidskintha, which eventually evolved into a specialized content zone for two important facets that touch a child's life: Parenting and Education. She is currently writing her first book.