WE EMPOWER: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs to Drive Economic Growth

8 Jul '20 Wed 16:30 CET07/15/2020 12:00am EuroGender Online Discussion public WE EMPOWER: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs to Drive Economic Growth Europe/Vilnius 07/08/2020 5:30pm
14 Jul '20 Tue 23:00 CET
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Alexandrina Satnoianu's picture

Good afternoon from Vilnius, Lithuania and welcome to EuroGender – EIGE’s online consultation and collaboration platform!

Vicki Saunders's picture

Good afternoon from Toronto, Canada. I'm Vicki Saunders, Founder of SheEO.World and #radicalgenerosity

 

Alexandrina Satnoianu's picture

We thank once more to @Magali Gay-Berthomieu, @Nancy Mitchell, and @Stephanie Dei from the UN Women Office for reaching out to us! We are thrilled to host the discussion on women’s empowerment on EuroGender!

Anna Falth's picture

On behalf of the WE EMPOWER – G7 programme of UN Women, ILO and the European Union, I would like to welcome you to this online discussion. Over the next few days, we’ll gather knowledge about your strengths and needs as entrepreneurs, business leaders and business networks, as well as about your aspirations for the future. It is a challenging time for individuals, business and society at large. More than ever do we need to join forces to engage key decision-makers in the G7, the European Union and beyond on what matters to you. Your expert inputs, suggestions and recommendations will help us prepare a strong advocacy tool for women entrepreneurs amid COVID-19. In solidarity between women, I would like to invite all business leaders all to make a commitment to gender equality by signing on to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (www.weps.org/join) and to start sourcing your products and services from other business women. The WEPs framework is at the core of the WE EMPOWER – G7 programme. We convene multistakeholder dialogues, drive campaigns to advance gender equality and bring together lessons learned and good practices. The entire WE EMPOWER – G7 team look forward to the discussion.

Marina Santalices Amigo 's picture

Great to connect with all this incredible network to re-imagine the future for women entrepreneurs and how we can all work together bringing our resources to have a more streamlined approach that works for them! 

Thanks for organizing WE EMPOWER team! 

Alexandrina Satnoianu's picture

Besides the comprehensive list of resources the organisers of the online discussions have prepared, I would like to highlight what EIGE has developed in the area of entrepreneurship:

  • An overview of the gender equality policy objectives at EU and international level can be found on our Gender Mainstreaming Platform here
  • Good practices for boosting women’s entrepreneurship can be found here
  • Our #Beijing25 review in area F – Women and the Economy  can be found here
  • Data on self-employment can be found in EIGE’s Gender Statistics Database. You can explore the Database and find some other indicators. This is just an example.
  • Other resources on entrepreneurship can be found - in various languages  - in our library - here.
Nancy Mitchell's picture

Hi All! Thanks so much for joining our online discussion. Today we are talking: Leveraging Civil Society Networks to strengthen women's entrepreneurship with:

  • Rebeca Sancho de Mayoral , Enterprise Europe Network
  • Charlene Lambert, Women's Entrepreneurship Platform
  • Vicki Saunders, SheEO

Feel free to post, share resources, reply to comments, and share recommendations. We will be using your inputs to inform our upcoming advocacy tool. Thanks all and happy posting!

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

Good afternoon from Brussels everyone!

Alexandrina Satnoianu's picture

enlightenedOne note from my side: to see the latest post, please refresh the page!!!

I am the EuroGender Admin, so if there are any issues with using EuroGender write a message in this thread tagging my name @Alexandrina Satnoianu. I am in a different time zone than the majority of you, so please note that I can only answer your request during EIGE’s office hours.

Charlene Lambert

Thank you Alexandrina.  In the beginning, my settings did not allow me to reply to posts. Thank you for making the change!

 

Paulina Cameron's picture

Good morning! Paulina Cameron, CEO of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs.  I'm based in Vancouver Canada -  on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Nations.

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

Thank you @Alexandrina Satnoianu I have some issues to see the chat box. If I click refresh it's ok though!

Alexandrina Satnoianu

I witness lags too :/ It might be because we have introduced a new feature that allows us to search in the online discussion thread and this might have affected the speed of the automatic refresh and manual refresh is needed. Not right now, but we will be working on fixing this lag!

Hira Kafle's picture

Hello Everyone! I am from Nepal. Nice to meet you all smiley

 

Isabel Pla-Julián 's picture

Good Afternoon from Spain.

I am a director of the Feminist Economics Research Unit,

 professor at the University of Valencia and gender

consultant for the European Commission.

Charlene Lambert's picture

Welcome to this discussion.  I look forward to exchanging information on these important points.  

There are may different ways we can look at this topic. Are there any suggestions as to how we should move ahead?

Thank you, Rebecca!  It's great to be together with you in this group. 

Hello to all. We have one week to give answers to the questions. Shall we start with the first one for a few days, and move on step by step?  Or do you prefer to talk about all of them all at once?

In case you need it, my background info is in the booklet that Nancy sent around in the past few days. 

Regarding civil society networks, we could separate them into 'standard' networks (Chamber of Commerce, sector organizations, business clubs, etc.), and grass roots women entrepreneurship organizations. Many of these organizations are operating on a shoestring, and in particular during the COVID crisis, may be struggling to survive. Some  say that they don't need a formal organization, as they can find the people whom they want to meet with online. This may be true to a certain point, however, in some cases, the legally registered 'bricks & mortar' organizations are also important. They are dedicated to supporting WEs in the longer term, and have built up their credibility and reliability for their members. These organizations are important in providing role models, networks, and support, especially for startups.  I would like to see if possible programs that directly benefit and strengthen these organizations.  

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

A brief intro about myself. I'm here with a double hat, working in public policy and advocating on gender and connecting women's networks in my private time. Bio: SMEs Business Advisor for the Enterprise Europe Network at the European Commission Agency for SMEs (EASME)/ experience managing EU international projects and building partnerships. Areas: entrepreneurship, internationalisation, trade, innovation & technology. Regions: Europe, Turkey, Balkans, Eastern Europe, ASEAN and Latin America. Passionate advocate for women closing investment and funding gender gaps. Board member of Impulse4Women. Alumnae "Women on Boards Leadership and Management Programme – W50", at the UCLA Anderson School Business.

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

Welcome everyone and time to kick-off the discussion! some of the questions prepared to warm up: 

1. What role can civil society play in strengthening the women's entrepreneurial ecosystem? Please share examples if any.
2. What international, national, regional, or local policies and programs are in place to increase the number, growth, and sustainability of women-owned enterprises? Which are the most successful and why? What criteria are used to assess success?
3. How can governments invest in civil society organizations to support women’s entrepreneurship?
4. How can we build a strong infrastructure to support women’s entrepreneurship? / How can we enable a strong ecosystem to support women’s entrepreneurship?

Vicki Saunders's picture

I am founder of SheEO.World which funds and supports women entrepreneurs working on the World's To Do List - UN SDG's. We operate out of Canada, US, NZ, AU and UK at the moment. Our goal is to transform systems through a unique ecosystem-based approach to support. Women in our community gift capital (social, financial, spiritual) to a collective and we vote as a group for the ventures we are most excited about bringing our networks, buying power, expertise, influence and financial capital together to support the Ventures. I see another Activator here - @Paulina Cameron - Hi!.

You can learn more here: www.SheEO.World

 

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

On 3 recommendations for Civil Society Networks to strengthen women's entrepreneurship, my 2 cents: 1. Connecting dots beyond regional, national, European levels across different actions (Covid proved to be a good moment to connect networks as we stopped and used more digital tools); 2. Connecting stakeholders (private, policy makers/public, financial institutions (EIB, investors, EBRD, etc)); 3. Capacity building tools for women. On my own brainstorm devil’s advocate we need to work on diversity as it's very much overlooked in Europe and the relationship with money and women/blockages to acquire more money/ change the narrative that business as a positive externality ( mobilising economic resources vs women's approach to money & money blockages - money not sexy. However, there are great opportunities on the new economy on impactful businesses and sustainable business that women might feel more attracted to!)Any thoughts on that?

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

great to finally e-meet you @vickisaunders! I have followed you since many years! I love your work! I believe the new economy and sustainable businesses is an opportunity to get more women into businesses.

Vicki Saunders's picture

Question 4: To build a strong infrastructure to support WE's we need to support women on their own terms, vs trying to turn them into the narrative du jour - currently winner takes all, tech, STEM = innovation. We have a totally broken economic model that serves only the few and an investment psyche that creates inequality and structures that are inherently racist. In order to transform our way to a new world we need to unlearn and unravel our mindsets to create the conditions for not just women, but all to thrive. That's going to take some significant personal work. We cannot just add women and stir. 

Vicki Saunders's picture

Great to meet you to @rebeca de sancho mayoral ...i've been following you too.

 

Vicki Saunders's picture

 To learn more about SheEO: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/radical-rethink-venture-capital-vicki-saunders/ 

Our Podcast series on Ventures and Money & Power: https://sheeo.world/podcasts/

About our Women's Enterprise Knowledge Hub in Canada: https://wekh.ca/ 

 

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

Totally agree with you @vickisaunders I have found myself navigating all these years trying to fit into a system that was not suitable for myself and trying to be true to myself. I believe you need to grow on your own terms and thus how it should be for female founders as well. However, at the same time you can only change the system from the inside and mobilising more economic resources for women should be part of the objectives. Even changing women's approach towards money. I found myself with many blockages towards money which could be similar for other women. So picturing businesses as a positive externality for society, can turn more women into entrepreneurs and change their internal conversation about money mindset.

Isabel Pla-Julián 's picture

It is very important to establish homogeneous female entrepreneurship support programmes. In addition, public budgets must incorporate gender impact so that women's entrepreneurship is supported equally and women must be incorporated into innovation systems

Charlene Lambert

Hi, Isabel,

Thank you for your comment.  Could you please expand on your idea of homogeneous female entrepreneurship support programmes? There are few programmes now that I'm aware of.  What are you familiar with, and what is your vision?

 

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

Hi @MarinaSantalicesAmigo nice to e-meet you! maybe you could share your view from civil society organisation as Women Will Global lead? 

Marina Santalices Amigo

Hi Rebeca, sorry I didn't get to participate on this panel it was late my time. 

But I believe civil society plays a key role in organizing and streamlining resources for women entrepreneurs to know where to start. Resources and information is very scattered and it can be challenging to find the right tools and information for women entrepreneurs to succeed, civil society can support in helping them understand the ecosystem better so they can make the most of it, as well as pull in their network and influence with private and public sectors to ensure they are also advocating for funding and more resources for women. 

Madison Bailey's picture

Hello everyone! Madison Bailey, WE EMPOWER G7 Programme Consultant at UN Women. Happy to see that the discussion is going well! 

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

Interesting! @isabelPlaJulian can you develop what do you mean by homogenous? thank you!

Vicki Saunders's picture

I agree that having more resources going to women from gov'ts is critical and only if they are truly on our own terms vs tied to the existing narrative of what matters (an agenda not set by women - ie.e tech = innovation).

Vicki Saunders's picture

@isabel pla-julian agreed taht we need to incorporate women into innovation systems. We have a bias towards product innovation over process innovation and most of the value that can be unlocked in society happens in the process. Women have a disproportionate impact and influence in the process innovation category but because you can't explain it in a simple sentence - "airbnb for cats" - it gets dismissed as complicated or unclear. 

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

Indeed! @vickisaunders How can we set a different agenda on the key policy priorities coming up? digital/innovation?

& on another relevant topic 'Access to finance', how to educate and partner with financial institutions to provide WEs with wrap around support + capitalFor instance, ensuring an increase on the diversity of investors in the private sectors (Angels & VC's) ?

Vicki Saunders

We have begun to influence the agenda by being in an ongoing dialogue with governments - by testifying to Standing Committees of government, by building relationships with Government Ministers. It takes sustained conversation to make an impact. 

And, Access to Finance = the biggest challenge I see here is the bias built into the systems that values one kind of busienss over another, the focus now, more than ever, on Venture Capital - which is only suitable for less than 1% of companies and the complete evaporation of debt financing with non-predatory terms. About two weeks ago Amazon borrowed $1B at .4% interest and turned around a loan fund for small businesses at 7-20% interest in partnership with Goldman Sachs. This predatory behaviour will destroy our economy over time. 

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral

I fully agree with you on the dialogue side of things. Having experienced it from the inside, it's the only way to move forward. However, we don't want to wait - as all statistics suggest - to see gender equality as a reality in more than 30 years. 

On small and micro businesses, I agree that their financing capacity see the struggle as the small fish in a big pond. I have lived through it myself as I grew up with parents who were small business owners in the 80s. It should be a adding game and sustracting given their support to jobs creation.

Charlene Lambert's picture

Where I live in the Netherlands, it's difficult to get government and banks interested in programmes specifically for women. 'We treat everyone equally here' is the answer that we have gotten when we approached them to help us deliver 'Start Your Own Business' programmes to internationals, migrants, and minorities.  The goverment does support women entrepreneurs in developing countries, which I applaud, but when it comes to programmes in the country, it is more difficult. 

Vicki Saunders

Hi Charlene. We see the same in Canada, the US, NZ, UK and Australia where we are operational. It's an epidemic globally and it's because we continue to live in a world where the rules were created for 'not us' and only a small group of the population. 

Charlene Lambert

It seems to me that Canada is still more openminded about programs but I may be wrong.   I know that there have been women's international trade missions from Canada to the EU. 

 

Isabel Pla-Julián 's picture

Vicki Saunders, the problem is that neither the definitions of innovation nor the innovation indicators take into account the gender perspective and it seems that women appear before public opinion as less innovative when it is not true. I'm investigating this topic.

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

As a true believer of law of attraction and positive mindset, I see changes, small steps but big changes. For instance, in one of the EU funding on innovation, for the first time there was a positive action to secure at least 25% funding going to women-led companies (vs. previous years around 10) https://ec.europa.eu/info/news/increase-funding-game-changing-green-innovation-and-woman-led-companies-2020-feb-10_en

Alexandrina Satnoianu

Hi Rebecca! You can also use the reply arrow that you find in the top right corner of each of the posts. It migh make it easier than refreshing to page to see the field box appearing. 

Charlene Lambert

This is great to hear! But it should be 25 - 50 % - why stop at 25%?  The message also has to be shared so more women are aware of the possibilities.

 

 

Nancy Wilson (she/her)'s picture

Hi everyone!  I'm Nancy Wilson, Founder & CEO of the Canadian Women's Chamber of Commerce (CanWCC).  CanWCC represents and advocates for women-identified and non-binary business owners, founders, and entrepreneurs in Canada.  I'm excited to be a part of this conversation - it's a topic that I care about a lot.

In May 2020, CanWCC released a report titled Falling Through the Cracks, which detailed the results of our Survey of the Impacts of COVID-19 on Underrepresented Entrepreneurs.  You can learn more and download the Report here:  https://canwcc.ca/covid-survey/

You can download and read CanWCC's Advocacy Agenda here:  https://canwcc.ca/advocacy/

Alexandrina Satnoianu

Welcome, Nancy! Many thanks for joining the recources. I have quickly read through some of the highlights from the report and downloaded it for more reading. Please do consider making a post and sharing it with the rest of the EuroGender community! We would like to further publicise it on our social media too! 

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral

hello Nancy! thank you for the resources! I have been in many conversations where Canada's efforts on women entrepreneurship has been set as a role model or best practise! I'll be happy to read more about it and share it with my networks!

Nathalie Siharath's picture

Hi everyone! I'm connecting from Paris, France. I'm feeeling so honored to join you here. To introduce myself, I'm working as a Digital Evangelist, I'm supporting and advising clients in their 360° marketing strategy to set and achieve their digital transformation. Before moving back to Paris, I was living in Bangkok, Thailand for the past 3 years and was involved in the international French Tech innovation network. I'm also passing my certification as a yoga teacher, as I do believe that we need to take care of ourselves to remain aligned and grateful every day. Thanks again

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral

Hello Nathalie! very interesting the job that you're doing! I fully agree with taking care of ourselves! As Covid left me locked inside, I turned to online Yoga with friends for the first time in my life I practised yoga and it helped me to relax while figuring out how to turn the confinement situation into the most positive one of my life! 

Are there any resources you could share with us? 

Amparo de San José's picture

Hi, Amparo from IESE's Angel Network. Something we do not see enough are diverse role models for the younger generations to breakthough stereotypes of successful women in business and innovation activities and sectors. The earlier we start changing norms and perceptions, the more effective.

 

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral

Hi Amparo! nice to emeet you here! I agree with you, for women and men, we have a huge responsibility for the next generations. I have seen several initiatives on girls and STEAM as for instance, going to schools portraying women as role models. Do you think we should enhance all the women's networks that we have currently now to create similar actions? 

Amparo de San José

Yes, this could be a good idea. In this line, I very like much the work of Junior Achievement, as they promote young girls to start thinking in entrepreneurship as a career. This could very early on in all schools... 

Isabel Pla-Julián 's picture

I totally agree with you, Rebecca. 
positive action is needed to strengthen the role of women in innovation and entrepreneurship
By "homogeneous" I mean that female entrepreneurship should be encouraged through lines of funding that are consistent with other public policies (innovation, industry, conciliation) and at all public levels (local, national, international).

Alexandrina Satnoianu

enlightened Isabel, try to reply directly to Rebecca's posts, like I have just done! You will find the reply arrow in the top right corner of each of the posts, in the same line with the name of the EuroGender user. 

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

hello Nancy! thank you for the resources! I have been in many conversations where Canada's efforts on women entrepreneurship has been set as a role model or best practise! I'll be happy to read more about it and share it with my networks!

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral's picture

Hello Nathalie! very interesting the job that you're doing! I fully agree with taking care of ourselves! As Covid left me locked inside, I turned to online Yoga with friends for the first time in my life I practised yoga and it helped me to relax while figuring out how to turn the confinement situation into the most positive one of my life! 

Are there any resources you could share with us? 

Alexandrina Satnoianu

enlightenedRebeca, please try to reply directly to the posts. You can see the reply arrow on the top right corner of each message, in the same line with the name of the EuroGender user!

Rebeca De Sancho Mayoral

done! thanks! some hiccups with the system but I found my way in the end :-) maybe you may want to delete the double posts?

Claudette F Hayle's picture

Hi Charlene, I agree exactly with your snetiment.  We trade Refined Fuels at the Port of Rotterdam and access to Logistics continues to be a barrier to expansion in a predominatly male dominated sector.  

Charlene Lambert

Hi Claudette,  It's great to hear from you.  It's a man's world in the Port of Rotterdam, in logistics in general and in the petroleum industry.  There are certain sectors in where women won't even consider going to work, let alone have a business!How do you think this situation can be changed? 

 

Punarimam Daniel Atenji's picture

Taraba state Nigeria, women find it difficult to speak out  whenever they are abuse, during communal crisis women are the most hit.

Punarimam Daniel Atenji's picture

Taraba state Nigeria, the women dont  easyfind it in this season of COVID 19,all business lockdown hunger is the order of the day.

Paulina Cameron's picture

In the roundtable this morning I talked about the need to disequate innovation from just technology and on democratizing access to capital. The threads here resonate with that! 

Proud to be a SheEO activator to have helped build a perpetual fund in Canada and proud to continue working on providing educational + community-based accessible models for women to get the education + support they need (via FWE and in partnership with many great Canadian orgs).

 

Hira Kafle's picture

The first solution for women empowerment starts with their family, community, and society. Recently COVID conditions show some good and bad influences on them. 

Isabel Pla-Julián 's picture

I agree with the need to disequate innovation from just technology. There are a lot of women in social innovative enterprises

Punarimam Daniel Atenji's picture

Taraba state Nigeria the women need soft loan for empowerment COVID 19 is ravaging families and societies at large.

Nancy Wilson (she/her)'s picture

Great 2018 report on innovation and women business owners / entrepreneurs titled:  Everywhere, Every Day, Innovating.  Attached in English and French.

Please note:  CanWCC was not involved in this report.  We're just fans of the work.

Hira Kafle's picture

Thank you Nancy for your information. I love the special projects that are running https://carleton.ca/criw/special-projects/. Even in a small country like Nepal where many girls still do not get enough educations, healthy stuff, and opportunities to come out in the business field and being healthy and more independent. Recently we are working on this project.

 

Isabel Recavarren Malpartida's picture

Hello, I am Isabel Recavarren. This moment is a challenge for everyone, feminine qualities are requested, it is not a time for aggression, it is a time to cultivate, a new economy. I think the circular economy is the answer.

Nancy Mitchell's picture

Hi all. Thank you for a fruitful conversation today and many thanks to our facilitators Vicki, Charlene, and Rebeca.

We look forward to picking up where we left off tomorrow morning at 9am CEST for two sessions on:

  1. Building Inclusive Supply Chains with Elizabeth Vazquez, WeConnect International and Sanja Popovic Pantic, EEN Sectoral Group on Women Entrepreneurship 
  2.  Innovative Financial Instruments and Financial Literacy Jill Earthy, Women's Enterprise Center and Amparo de San José, IESE’s Business Angels Network
Sanja Popovic Pantic

Hi Nancy,

thanks for the announcement of today's session Building Inclusive Supply Chains! Looking forward to meeting interesting persons and to learn about inspiring views from all of you!

Best regards

Sanja Popovic Pantic

Colleen Ambrose's picture

I agree with you Isabel Pla- Julian women entrepreneurs do need support from their governments, international organisations and other entities concerned with gender equality to help them become important players in economic growth. From where I come from, there are many women who are interested in entrepreneurship, but sometimes financial difficulties and cultural, lack of education and cultural views prevent them from achieving this dream.

Colleen Ambrose's picture

One way to help aspiring women entrepreneurs would be to invite some successful women entrepreneurs to guide other women to also be successful in business. Organise a conference for women in entrepreneurship and get successful business women or even man to give talks about ways to achieve a successful business.

Magali Gay-Berthomieu's picture

Hi All! Thanks so much for joining our online discussion yesterday, and many thanks to our facilitators Vicki, Charlene, and Rebeca.

Please feel free to continue discussing the very interesting issues that were mentioned yesterday.

Today, our next live session will start at 10.00pm EDT/4.00pm CET. We look forward discussing Building Inclusive Supply Chains with Elizabeth Vazquez, from WeConnect International, and Sanja Popovic Pantic, from the Enterprise Europe Network Sectoral Group on Women Entrepreneurship.

Then, you will have the opportunity to exchange with Jill Earthy, from the Women's Enterprise Center and Amparo de San José, from the IESE’s Business Angels Network on Innovative Financial Instruments and Financial Literacy, from 12.00pm EDT/6.00pm CET.

Looking forward to reading your comments here!

Kind regards,

Magali

Sanja Popovic Pantic

Hi Magali,

thanks for the announcement of today's session Building Inclusive Supply Chains. Looking forward to hearing from all of the participants and the newcomers and learn about new approaches, concepts, ideas..!

Best regard

Sanja Popovic Pantic

Sanja Popovic Pantic

Hi Magali,

thank you for the announcement of today's session Building Inclusive Supply Chains! Looking forward to meeting all of you and hear your inspiring views!

Best regards

Sanja Popovic Pantic

 

Miguel Atanet Armida's picture

Good morning from La Línea (Spain), the South of the South!
Thank you for the invitation.

Miguel Atanet Armida's picture

I'd like to send my congratulations from here to UN Women, they're celebrating their 10th anniversary and doing a wonderful job for gender equality  and Women Empowering as EIGE.

Stephanie Dei

Hi Miguel - thanks for joining us and sharing the congratulatory message! Indeed it is a big year for UN Women as we are also celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Women's Empowerment Principles - our primary vehicle for corporate delivery on gender equality dimensions of the 2030 agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals!

Colleen Ambrose's picture

The government through its community development ministry or any department responsible for community or women's development, could come up with policies and work plans to help women entrepreneurs become economically empowered and thus drive economic growth. I would suggest for the government to look at opportunities for enhancing the businesses of women entrepreneurs, whether it be in international trade, partnering with other businesses etc. For example, if there is going to be a new trade activity between two countries, then the government could make sure that women entrepreneurs benefit from it.

Mar Hermosilla's picture

Hello everyone. I am Mar Hermosilla and I am connecting from Seville, Spain, I am lawyer and gender consultant for various European public bodies. Congratulations on this online discussion and thanks por the invitation.I think the main obstacle to starting a women's business is financing. In my opinion, one of the solutions could be to promote microcredits, in advantageous conditions and without the need for guarantees. In Spain, the Chamber of Commerce has created a project "W&W Women's Wisdom", which links prestigious women with successful experiences (mentors) with entrepreneurs who need their support (mentorized)

 

Stephanie Dei

Hi Mar, thanks for joining us. Absolutely - mentorship is key! W&W Women's Wisom sounds like a great programme. Can you share more details or any links to the programme?

Sanja Popovic Pantic's picture

Hi Amparo! I am Sanja Popovic Pantic, Chair of the  Enterprise Europe Network Sector Group Women Entrepreneurship and President of the Associaiton of Business Women in Serbia. I agree with you that we need to promote good role models to the younger generation, especially so-called "Z" generation who are going to be soon our employees. Therefore,  I would like to share the good practice of the Association of Business Women in Serbia who celebrated International Girls Day this year on-line, for the first time. Int. Girl's Day is held regularly each last Thursday every year. This year, it was for the first time on-line and girls from primary school (age 12-14) had an opportunity to visit virtually female companies and listen to inspiring stories of women owners. Also, school girls took part in the on-line competition "Catch the idea" where they were supposed to create a short video and present their innovative projects in ICT. The first awarded girl invented amazing software that enables the transfer of the personal passwords on USB so that you can access your favorite portals from any computer to which you have regular access. Amazing success of 14 years old girl! So, we should definitely create the framework for the girls in which they could learn about good practices, be encouraged and express their potential!

 

Ljubica Kostic-Bukarica's picture

Hi everyone, greetings from Montenegro. Thank your for the invitation. I`m Ljubica Kostic-Bukarica, President of Business Women Association of Montenegro (BWA) and business owner. BWA  is a national organization for women enterpreneurs and managers, founded in 2009. The main objective of our organization is to give support to women in business, i.e. female leadership and entrepreneurship, advocating improvement of the business climate and continuously fostering networking on a local, regional and international level. I`m glad to participate in the discussion. 

Alexandrina Satnoianu

Welcome to EuroGender, Ljubica! EIGE is also working with the pre-acession countries and potential candidates. You might want to have a look and join the dedicted workspace here!

Elizabeth Vazquez's picture

Hello fellow champions of inclusion!

 

It is my very great pleasure to be here with Sanja Popovic Pantic, Enterprise Europe Network Sectoral Group on Women Entrepreneurship, to facilitate an interactive conversation on “Building Inclusive Supply Chains.” 

 

We thank the organizers and we thank each of you in advance for joining in on this important topic and for sharing your experience and words of wisdom with all of us.

Alexandrina Satnoianu

Hi Elizabeth! I know that you are encountering some technical difficulties. Can you please try to refresh the page (press F5 on your keyboard)? Then, hoover the top right corner of each of the posts until you see the arrow, then click on it to reply to the posts. The arrow is in the same line with the username. 

Elizabeth Vazquez's picture

As you know, our first guiding question is:

How can supply chains become more resilient and inclusive?

Sanja Popovic Pantic

To promote 5th WEP among Multinational corporations as a part of their CSR strategy. There is good example  from Serbia, project „Be equal in supply chain, when Association of Business Women in Serbia (ABW) promoted the concept of inclusive supply chain  and facilitated the „meet the buyers“ events between the MNC and female SMEs. ABW created e-catalogue of products/services of women and distributed it to the MNC. It raised the interest of MNC so next step was to organize   and facilitate „meet the buyers“ events between MNC and female SMEs. A  It was on mutal interest as MNC in that way acomplished some „gender“targets in their CSR strategies  while female companies had easer access to MNC that would not be possible otherwise.

Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska

That's great Sanja, real practical example of two important factors for more resilent and inclusive supply chains, integrating sustainability and deepening supplier engagement. I believe that the way forward should include even greater focus on innovative supplier involvement and greater transparency. And in all of that better use of technology and collaborative initiatives, like the one you've presented, will play a crucial role.

Nancy Wilson (she/her)

I think that education about supply chains and procurement should be built into early-stage business programming.  Businesses have to plan towards becoming a tier 1 supplier - it doesn't just happen.  In order for this to happen, there needs to be a more affordable way to access this type of training and information - with materials that are relevant to early-stage businesses.

Elizabeth Vazquez

Thank you Sanja, Gabriela and Nancy for sharing your insights!  Based on my experience, the first step is to build awareness and encourage everyone to ask: “How do I as an individual or as an organization spend money and is any of that money spent with the people and organizations I value?”  Our purchasing power is one of the most powerful tools we have to build a more resilient and inclusive global community and economy.  WEConnect International provides training to buyers and women suppliers based in over 120 countries on how to do business together in a way that leads to measurable impact on resiliency and inclusivity.

Stephanie Dei

@Nancy Wilson - I really like this point, what type of stakeholders are best placed to offer this training? Do you envision governments, academic institutions or other ecosystem players like WEConnect International offering this type of training? How can we better "learn" or "unlearn" (in some cases) entrepreneruship?

Elizabeth Vazquez's picture

Our second guiding questions are:

What are the examples of effective public procurement policies and programs? How were these interventions created? What are the gaps in these policies and programs?

Sanja Popovic Pantic

By my so far research,  examples of good practice regarding gender equality in public procurement in the countries of the European Union are sporadic, more related to regional, local, and/or sectoral experiences. We find such examples in Sweden, Norway, Spain, and the United States of America (USA).

Examples of good practice to our knowledge that can be found in these few countries are mainly in the form of guides, pilot projects, case studies. Topics to which the guides are dedicated, or the activities that the projects deal with, touch on the general topic of gender equality in public procurement through various types of promotions and instructions intended for municipal authorities as contracting authorities, but also for the general public, i.e. recipients and users of public services.

The methods are different: organizing training to raise awareness, organizing a moderated dialogue with public procurement actors to learn policy, action plans defining steps to achieve goals, defining questionnaires to be applied in municipalities to collect gender-disaggregated statistics, defining indicators and rules for monitoring and evaluation, websites for informing and collecting examples of good practice in municipalities.

Elizabeth Vazquez

Thank you Sanja!  There are still very few countries with a specific focus on supplier diversity and inclusion as it relates to women.  The U.S. and South Africa have effective public procurement policies and programs on gender inclusive sourcing, but mostly it is the private sector that is leading in this area globally.  Both countries focus on a number of underutilized business groups ranging from gender to ethnicity, disability, LGBT+, etc.  The gaps continue to include measurable results beyond 5% of spend in the U.S. where women account for 39% of all privately held firms and too many pass-through contracts in South Africa where many black women-owned businesses are hired but do not receive a majority of the contract revenue.  While these are major gaps to be addressed, most other countries are not even trying to ensure both men-owned and women-owned businesses are competing for and winning contracts.  We must all do better!

Elizabeth Vazquez's picture

Our third guiding question is:
How can the government work closer with the private sector to develop supplier diversity and procurement programs with a focus on supporting diverse women entrepreneurs?

Sanja Popovic Pantic

The government should make steps closer to the private sector and organize consultations and provide advisory support before announcing public procurement. They should make the process as transparent and accessible to all interested parties and provide capacity building to the potential suppliers through mentoring, training, consultations, and help them to become an eligible supplier. Female companies prevailed among those who are not yet eligible.

Nancy Wilson (she/her)

We need to push back on corporations regarding the certification system.  The disclosure requirements are inappropriate and the cost is prohibitive - particularly when the research shows a clear benefit flowing to the corporation as a result of supplier diversity.  The cost and labour of due diligence have been shifted from the procurement department to the population supplier diversity programs ostensibly benefit.

An obvious workaround to the disclosure requirement is a legal affidavit or attestation signed by someone who can bind the corporation, declaring that the eligibility requirements for certification are met.  This document would be subject to financial penalties should fraud or gross negligence be discovered.  

In terms of the cost, it is my opinion that the fee for certification should be nominal.  It is simply not women business owners' responsibility to shoulder the cost of preventing fraud in Wal-Mart's supplier diversity program.

I know this may not be a popular opinion, and I am not criticizing the current 3rd party certification organizations.  It is the requirements of the corporations that participate in the certification program that need to be changed.  

Finally, I would like to see more inclusive language used around certification.  For example, are trans women eligible for WBE certification?

Elizabeth Vazquez

Thank you Sanja and Nancy for sharing your thoughts!  WEConnect International often helps to facilitate public-private sector partnerships in support of women as business owners.  Working with partners around the world, including many of you in this discussion, we host events for key stakeholders on how to build a more enabling environment for women-owned businesses to grow and prosper. We collect and share data on what is working and provide recommendations to governments, corporations, multilaterals and many others on how we can improve together.

Elizabeth Vazquez's picture

And our final guiding questions are:
How can women entrepreneurs foster solidarity with other business women? How can the Women's Empowerment Principles serve as such tool?

Sanja Popovic Pantic

They should share their resource within their own networks and promote the rule „think female first“ meaning that they should address first to each other with the procurement request

Elizabeth Vazquez

Yes and women business owners can join a number of platforms such as the WEPs and a number of networks – associations of women business owners, chambers of commerce and NGOs – to connect.  I also encourage women business owners to join the WEConnect International community for free to network with and learn from women business owners based in over 120 countries as well as large buyers with over US$1 trillion in annual purchasing power at: WEConnect International

Sanja Popovic Pantic's picture

thank you Gabriela and Nancy for your inputs! Yes, I think that digitalization is contributing a lot to improve transparency, it is a key enabling factor, I agree Gabriela. And also, I share your opinion Nancy that it is not possible to become supplier over the night. It is time and money-consuming action, so female companies can't afford it often. Therefore, it is important to support them.

Sanja Popovic Pantic's picture

We should be aware that there is a difference between the position of women as suppliers of corporations and their position as suppliers in public procurement. I would say that there is more opportunities to push back on public institutions to gender mainstream their procedures because it has more background in some public policy documents. In Europe, there is a document that explicitly deals with gender equality in public procurement and this is European Charter on Equality between Women and Men (Charter) for example. But in the world of corporations, it is more challenging to make a result..

Jill Earthy's picture

Hi all, it is great to connect. I am currently serving as Interim CEO of the Women's Enterprise Centre in British Columbia, Canada where we offer loans up to $150K, mentoring, skills development, mentorship and business advisory services. We also collaborate with many other organizations to leverage support for women entrepreneurs. I look forward to connecting and brainstorming with you all. 

 

Sanja Popovic Pantic

hi Jill, welcome!

Are those services free of charge or a part of the membership package for women members? Are there any support regarding the inclusion of women entrepreneurs into the supply chain?

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

Global and regional initiatives with the ability to link women entrepreneurs are extremely important, such as WEConnect International which is in almost 50 countries; Women Entrepreneurs Going Global (WEGG) in the United States; a series of regional initiatives in Asia; SheTrades at the International Trade Centre, etc.  

The WEPs can play a leading role by committing to make these resources better known, and supporting the growth of women entrepreneurial access to markets by promoting adoption of a policy recommendation at the national and global levels such as:  "Create conditions to build capacity and increase opportunities for women-owned and women-led businesses to access markets, by setting national year-on-year goals with regard to corporate and public procurement, international trade and e-commerce.  Set a target of a minimum 10% increase in public procurement by 2030 (by a minimum of 10% increase in improvement for each country according to its own baseline).  Countries should report on annual progress on women's access to each of these markets."

 

Sanja Popovic Pantic

I totally support the idea to set targets regarding the participation of women in public procurement, just like Virginia proposed. The quota system in politics and in the company's Boards gave the result, why not in public procurement as well?

Amparo de San José's picture

Amparo joining. We run an angel network at the business school and pay special attention to bring more women into investment in startups for two reasons: it is good for themselves (returns) and they tend to invest more in women led startups. I am reading very interesting experiences from you, which are inspiration for new activities here too. 

 

Nancy Mitchell's picture

Hi All. Thanks so much for joining the session on Building Inclusive Supply Chains with Elizabeth Vazquez and Sanja Popovic Pantic. Don't forget the conversation is runs for 24 hours a day until July 14th so you can always check back, reply to previous posts, and share your insights. The next discussion on Innovative Financial Instruments and Financial is opening shortly with Jill Earthy, Women's Enterprise Center and Amparo de San José, IESE Business Angels Network. Happy chatting!

Amparo de San José's picture

Hello all, Here Amparo (Spain) and Jill (Canada) for the moderation! We look forward your experiences in innovative financial instruments and financial literacy! Here is proposed question number 1. What financial supports can be deployed to enhance ecosystem supports for women entrepreneurs? What capital and program supports have been offered and what are the take-up and impacts of these interventions? Think of debt, equity, crowdequity, crowdfunding ... 

Jill Earthy

It is great to be here moderating this discussion with Amparo. I love to think of financing as a puzzle with many pieces coming together. 

 

 

Jill Earthy's picture

Hi all, what models are you seeing combining debt and equity? 

 

Jill Earthy

In Canada, the Women's Enterprise Centre offers loans up to $150K and often partners with other organizations to combine funding for women entrepreneurs. As a development lender, we work closely with women entrepreneurs based on their specific circumstances to defer payments during difficult periods, and to create a payment schedule that works. Combined with mentoring, education and 1:1 business advisory, this model is working. 

Amparo de San José's picture

If you are not very familiar with women entrepreneurs and VC money, the European Investment Bank has recently published the full version of this study: https://www.eib.org/en/publications/why-are-women-entrepreneurs-missing-out-on-funding-executive-summary

The study finds that while women-led companies still account for a small portion of deal flow and overall volume invested the rate of growth has increased across all the examined regions.

Nevertheless, structural inequalities and persistent biases both on the supply of and demand for finance for women-driven companies still hinder the transition to a more balanced, more accessible and ultimately better functioning funding environment. For this reason the study puts forth and analyses a number of options and considerations – both financial and policy related – that could help accelerate this transition. 

 

Marie-Elisabeth Rusling

VC world is even more difficult than the angel one - Amparo and I worked on an EU-funded pilot project to bring more women to become angel investors and results were impressive in less than 2 years (2017-2018) due to: taking into account the need for women to get more education, to enter "safe" spaces (goodwill, opened networks, friendly systems) and some marketing (again) around the YOU TOO CAN DO IT! Women were not more risk adverse, rather more cautious when taking their first steps. Check Women Angels for Europe's Entrepreneurs (WA4E) https://www.businessangelseurope.com/wa4e. Now, on the VC side, great efforts noticeable European Women in VC, #Fundright initiative in the TechLeap movement (Dutch initiative), but it takes some time to replace a man LP by a woman. Seems that the VC industry is now busy investing in more women-led companies but can they bring more women to the investment decision table? This impacts the way pitches are evaluated. 

 

 

Susannah Haan's picture

EBAN (the European Business Angel Network) produced a very interesting video 2 years ago with UBS entitled: "How a Gender Smart Strategy Can Boost Your Growth and Returns”, which sets out factors that may be relevant to investors looking at gender.  See https://vimeo.com/275212011

 

 
 
Jill Earthy

Thank you for sharing this. The data exists to demonstrate the benefit of investing in women-led businesses, yet we are still not seeing the shift. Female Funders is an education acclerator program for female leaders who have a curiousity about investing in early stage companies, and this program provides education, access to experienced investors and a pathway to deal flow with a goal of increasing diversity of representatives making investment decisions. We will hope this will help. https://www.canada51.ca/ is also connecting organizations across Canada to support this. 

Susannah Haan

What is useful here is how to relate gender to the business case, which is what most investors are interested in. Interestingly today the ICGN (International Corporate Governance Network) held a discussion on ESG investing in capital markets, and it turns out that over 50% of MSCI analyst reports to investors in the last 3 months have been concerned with human capital reporting in terms of which companies are doing well and which ones are not. So there is much more investor demand for information from companies, but also for macro information from public institutions. 

 
Marie-Elisabeth Rusling's picture

Hello Jill, Amparo! Thank you for moderating this session. Looking back at the first proactive measures in favour of Women-led innovative start ups at the European Innovation Council (where European Commission works with the European Investment Bank to bring equity to not yet bankable yet super innovative ventures), one can only see the positive: by annoucing widely their effort to bring more women to dare and apply, EC secured over 30% of applications from women (target was 25%) and results are as follows: women access 37% of the budget. A nice première! Two conclusions come to my mind: marketing the public effort is essential to encourage more women to apply. This will now be ongoing. Then when performance of these companies starts to be monitored by the investor, it will be important to run a gender analysis all the way through. With transparent data and meaningful samples. On this last point, obviously we need more women-led companies on the programmes! 

        

Jill Earthy

Marie-Elisabeth, thank you for sharing this great example. This is very encouraging. I agree that marketing and outreach with particular focus on inclusive language is so important, as is measuring progress. I will be following this. Congrats! 

Amparo de San José

WOW! Impressive results! Where was this great pipeline of women led startups hidden? If just by announcing they received so many applications, it might seem women entrepreneurs thought this instrument was not for them before... puzzling! Thanks for the insight.

 

Susannah Haan

Agree Marie-Elisabeth; my impression is that the public sector do not measure properly what they are doing now in terms of gender balance in investee companies so they (EIF, EIB) can't really answer questions re what they are investing in. 

 

 

 
Charlene Lambert's picture

Hello, everyone!  I'm Charlene with the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) based in Brussels.  Especially since COVID-19, there is an increased interest in local sourcing. Many problems have becsome evident with global sourcing of important products and countries and regions are reevaluating the best ways to move forward. Now is the time to bring more women into corporate value chains.   The supply chain is also referred to as the Value Chain, the idea being that at each step of the way, you create value for your company and clients. Having more women suppliers also makes sense in this area for many reasons.  

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

Rather than posting answers to the three specific questions that you have asked us to address, I am going to post 3 policy recommendations that the W20 (Women20) of the G20 countries will be making this year:

#11. Develop and promote innovative and easily accessible financial solutions and products, including digital tools and microfinance, in partnership with public and private financial institutions to increase women's access to finance.

#12. Develop and promote financial education programs, especially for disadvantaged women and girls, to improve women's financial literacy, skills, confidence, and entrepreneurial capacity.

#13.  Mandate public and private financial institutions to collect sex-disaggregated data with the purpose of understanding gender implications on financial outcomes and investment decision-making.

I am Co-Head of the US Delegation to the W20, and Chair of the W20's Women's Entrepreneurship Working Group.

 

Jill Earthy

Hi Virginia, thank you for sharing these. I really like the framework and it is a good model to share. Measurement is so critical!

Amparo de San José

Thanks Virginia. Indeed it is important not to focus only on high-growth and high-tech new businesses. It is important to consider any kind of entrepreneurship as a tool to empower women, unicorns and the like are getting all the attention. And your final recommendation goes in the right direction, without the best data any good will can fail.

Jill Earthy's picture

What are some specific data points public and private sector should be measuring? 

Susannah Haan

By gender:

  • Number of entrepreneurs starting businesses
  • Number of entrepreneurs employing people 
  • Number of entrepreneurs raising funds, breakdown by investor type (banks, angel investors, venture capital, private equity, insurers, pension funds, etc) 
  • Number of women employed by investors, breakdown by investor type (New Financial has done some very interesting analysis in the UK) 
  • Gender balance in investee companies - on board, but also product development
  • Analysis of questions asked at pitch events to male and female candidates 

Those would help to start with. 

 
Susannah Haan's picture

Agree Virginia; we really need sex-aggregated data in order to have a conversation about the business case and to put gender into an economic rather than just social justice context. 

 
Jill Earthy

I absolutely agree. We need to put a gender lens on everything, and not just make it a checkbox. 

Amparo de San José's picture

Any good practice to make the entrepreneurship finance ecosystem more gender balanced? Some initiatives: www.risingtide.edu or www.femmebusinessangels.com or https://www.level20.org/

 

Jill Earthy's picture

What financial models, and initiatives have you seen work well for women-led startups? Scale-ups?

 

Susannah Haan

Where a lot of people need support is on the business development / sales side. They may have the technical idea but not know how to sell it. So pitching support is always in demand; explaining the world from the investor / bank point of view. 

 
Jill Earthy

We are exploring a funding platform with a feminine lens in Canada using recent equity crowdfunding regulations. What models have you seen that work? 

Amparo de San José

In Europe crowdfunding is a nightmare if you are looking to scale. There are different regulations for every country and often investment remains at country level. Platforms do not give entrepreneurs exposure to investors from the entire continent. I have heard women entrepreneurs do better with crowdfunding, is that true? Do you have data?

Jill Earthy

Yes, Susannah. At Women's Enterprise Centre we have seen a surge in interest in our sessions on business development and sales. There seems to be a negative association with the term "sales" and we need to demystify that. Sales = revenue.
Presentation style and pitching support is key. Although, personally I would like to shift from the "Pitch" format to a presentation format. To "pitch" seems very one sided and when seeking investment it should be with a goal for all to benefit. 

 

Amparo de San José's picture

Thanks Susannah, 

at which stage, or for which type of business, do you think support to women entrepreneurs is more needed:

  • Seed and pre-seed to encourage women to start business and support first steps
  • Growth and development to scale
  • SMEs with no exponential growth models (less ambition, less risk, more stability …)
Susannah Haan

HI Amparo

I would start with the growth and development to scale businesses - these are the ones that have the chance to become real success stories for women but also to show mean that investing in women can be profitable. This changes the conversation with men. Plus the figures for investing in women by VCs etc are truly dreadful - around 2% I think, whereas women do start up around 30% of businesses already in Europe.

So I see the need to assist growth companies as highest. Once you have done that, then you can look at pre seed and SMEs. And then they will be able to see more female role models in the growth companies, which may encourage them to aim for stretch goals. 

But the other huge task that needs to be done is the training of the financial advisers. There are studies which state that women do not trust their financial advisers and may not tell them about their interest in angel investing. As women take more financial responsibility, they will seek out advisers that they feel they can trust, which may not be the traditional investment houses. 

 
 
Susannah Haan

The other area that I think needs to be developed in Europe is the employee share plan. There are different options around Europe; would be useful to have a pan-European option as well. 

This should benefit men and women, but research shows that men tend to get more equity than women so it would need to be designed carefully - I would suggest no tax breaks should be made available unless the company is proven to be diverse, as this should reduce risk and increase innovation. Tax breaks are a national option, but it could be a European recommendation, and the numbers could (and should) be measured. 

 
Mar Hermosilla

 Hi Amparo. I think where female entrepreneurs need the most support is probably at the start of the business. According to the latest statistical study on female entrepreneurship by the European Commission (Statistical Data on Women Entrepreneurs in Europe-2014), women only represent 34.4% of entrepreneurs, and 30% of startups (companies with an innovative or technological base), despite being 52% of the population.
Lack of money, access to finance, and lack of contacts make women start businesses less than men, but women's businesses fail less than men's and respond more reliably to their debts.

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

The National Women's Business Council in the US is a federal advisory council that advises the legislature, the head of the Small Business Administration, and the President of the United States on policy and program recommendations impacting women-owned and women-led businesses.  It was created as a result of legislation called the Women's Business Ownership Act of 1988, which I was involved with getting passed. It has done a lot of work with regard to finance.  Several years ago, they did 2 reports on crowdfunding focused on women's entrepreneurship, one with Kickstarter and another one with Kiva.  Here are the links to those reports: https://www.nwbc.gov/2018/03/27/crowdfunding-as-a-capital-source-for-women-entrepreneurs-2/

 

Jill Earthy

Thanks, Virginia. Yes, we are seeing many women entrepreneurs benefit from reward based crowdfunding using platforms such as Kickstarter, ane the micro loan platforms such as KIVA. There is an additional opportunity to use equity crowdfunding such as www.frontfundr.com for entrepreneurs to raise equity or debt through an online platform, and to engage more investors to participate. We are also seeing women entrepreneurs be successful with this model as it is more collaborative, transparent and accessible. Plus, we can engage more women to particpate as investors. 

 

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

I'll look for some more reports that are relevant and post them during our online process.  In particular, there has been a lot of work focused on getting more women angel investors, and efforts to get more VC funding to women founders.

Jill Earthy

Thank you. Amparo shared a few reports above in the chain that may be helpful.

 

Amparo de San José

Virginia, with Marie Elisabeth Rusling we did a nice one: The Barriers and Opportunities for Women Angel Investing in Europe.

I will see how to send it to you.

Jill Earthy's picture

I thought I would share a model of a non-profit organization and a large Credit Union partnering. The credit union has designed a unique loan product specific for women entrepreneurs and partnered with the non-profit to provide the wrap around support of mentoring, business advisory (especially working on financials and business planning) and education. It is a good private/public partnership and the interest from women entrepreneurs has been significant - https://join.vancity.com/unity-women-entrepreneurs-program/

 

Amparo de San José's picture

What do you think of this for instance: The examination of the “not asking for funding” female trait showed that the presence of startup coaches (advisors, consultants and other) significantly increases the incidence of asking for financing at the nascent stage.
This is the reference: Kwapizs, A., and D. M. Hechavarría. 2018. “Women Don’t Ask: An Investigation of Startup Financing
and Gender.” Venture Capital 20 (2): 159–190.

Jill Earthy

I see this in action all of the time. The root of it seems to stem from the following; 
- not wanting to take on additional financing (risk astuteness)
- not knowing where to start (women tend to want to know all of the information before asking the questions)
- not resonating with the opportunities ie. pitch events with very few female investors, loan products that don't fit their needs
These hold women back from asking for funding. 

 

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

In addition, the Financial Alliance for Women (founded as the Global Banking Alliance for Women) has extensive experience with banks and other financial institutions in both developed and developing countries.  If they are not part of this process, Inez Murray in Dublin (CEO) or Rebecca Ruf (EVP, in NY) should be invited to join this online forum.  I can introduce you to them if you don't have contact information.  They are a must-have on this topic.

Marie-Elisabeth Rusling's picture

On Amparo's question regqrding support for women business - type, and when. 

First, women need to understand all their options better. Cf financial culture and education on risks - different types of finance = different strings attached. In Europe equity finance still needs more promotion (and a proper pan-European market). I want to invest not just in Belgian or French ventures!

Second, financial products for women still require a lot of finetuning. for example, many banks are still considering start-uppers as a group only made of young people straight out of the lab or university but many women start their business much later in life. Sometimes they have been highly successful as an employee. Running a business is a different story but they cannot be treated like a fresher. Banks also dispatch in Europe a lot of European money. Gender lens should be applied but also risk profiles (rating grids) may have to be reviewed.     

Second, many women 

 

Jill Earthy's picture

Thank you all for the great comments and resources. As we wrap up, what specific additional recommendations do you have for: 
 

Public sector

- Tax incentives for private investors (VC’s and Angels) investing with a gender lens in early stage companies

Private sector

- Data tracking – hold organizations accountable to better identify and understand gaps 

- Lenders and investors

Civil Society 
- incentives
- role model visability

 

Susannah Haan

I would make tax incentives dependent on proof of diversity - that would create a huge difference very fast as tax plays a huge part in incentivising investors. So investors would need to show that their investments in investee companies were in companies with diverse management, backed up by statistics.  

Arguably taxpayers money should not go to subsidising companies that cannot show diversity as studies show that they will be likely to be higher risk and less innovative. 

 
Marie-Elisabeth Rusling's picture

and publicising data + marketing results to get the ball rolling faster via targeted campaigns! 

Amparo de San José's picture

Some readings for those interested. Apologies for the citation style (in academia you cannot miss the credits right!) 

Abouzahr, K., F. Brooks Taplett, M. Krentx, and J. Harthorne (2018), “Why women-owned startups are a better bet.” A report published by Boston Consulting Group. Boston.

Brush, C. G. F., L. Balachandra, A. Davis, and P. G. Greene. 2014. Investing in the Power of Women. Progress Report on the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative. Babson: Babson College.

Facklemann, S., and A. de Concini. 2019. “European Investment Bank, 2019, “Why are Female Entrepreneurs Missing Out on Funding? Re$ections and Considerations. Executive Summary.” An EIB report by the Innovation Finance Advisory.

Hathaway, I. 2019. “The Ascent of Women-Founded Venture-Backed Startups in the United States.” A report published the Center for American Entrepreneurship.

Huang, L., A. Wu, J. L. Lee, J. Bao, M. Hudson, and E. Bolle. 2017. The American Angel. Kansas, United States: Wharton Entrepreneurship and Angel Capital Association.

Shuttleworth, N., D. van der Schans, A. Hu Wagner, J. Fowles, S. Hird, F. Warner, T. Winstanley, and G. Manku. 2018. “UK VC and Female Founders”. A British Business Bank report in collaboration with Diversity VC and BVCA.

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

One final point -- there are a lot of good financial programs that are focused on developing countries and LDCs (women's programs at the International Finance Corporation, the We-Fi program, etc.), but not enough strategic initiatives focused on investment in women-owned and women-led businesses in developed countries.  I think that it is very important that we push for more financial programs that will help spur women entrepreneurial growth in developed countries, and then share knowledge across participating countries on good programs that work.

Amparo, I just saw your post about the 10,000 Women report.  One of the co-authors, the phenomenal Dr. Patti Greene, is one of the participants in this onlie forum.

 

Jill Earthy's picture

Thank you everyone for sharing such important comments and resources ! I look forward to staying in touch.

 

Amparo de San José's picture

Thanks to all of you for inspiring experiences and insights. Also to Jill for this session together. Amparo

Jill Earthy's picture

Amparo, it was a pleasure connecting with you on this! 

Nancy Mitchell's picture

Hi all. Thanks again for the great dialogue on Building Inclusive Supply Chains with Elizabeth Vazquez and Sanja Popovic Pantic, and Innovative Financial Instruments and Financial Literacy with Jill Earthy and Amparo de San José. 

Moreover, yesterday we convened a group of approximately 60 women’s economic empowerment leaders across the G7 and EU and started building recommendations on how to support women entrepreneurs in the context of COVID-19. Here is a snippet of some of the recommendations that came through during this dialogue: 

  • Supporting an intersectional approach to mapping and building a global ecosystem of support for women business owners from start up to growth 

  • Government must develop refined metrics for evaluating women’s entrepreneurship (including barriers to entrepreneurship and an evaluation of the success of available supports) 

  • Increasing women’s access to skill building, mentorship, and sponsorship opportunities across various sectors 

We look forward to building on these recommendations and developing others in the upcoming dialogues on this Online Discussion, and sharing these inputs in our upcoming advocacy tool and webinar set for September.  

Thanks again for a great dialogue today and see everyone tomorrow morning at 9AM CEST! 

Nancy Mitchell's picture

Good morning all. Today we have two discussions on the agenda:

  • 10AM ET: Social Protection and Care Work with Nora Spinks, Vanier Institute of the Family and Blandine Mollard, EIGE
  • 12PM ET: Digital Economy and E-commerce Solutions with Cheryl Miller van Dÿck, Digital Leadership Institute; Deloris Wilson, Axl Impact Studio; and Marina Santalices, Google

As always, feel free to post and reply to posts at any time during the day!

Colleen Ambrose's picture

Like what other posters have said, research is very important. Do research to find out what is affecting women entrepreneurs from achieving more, what consequences does Covid 19 have on their business activities. What are their aspirations? If we have such information, we can analyse the situation and come up with solutions.

Secondly, I suggest that governments can  come up with business or entrepreneurship activities that   are forcusing on women entrepreneurs . For example, come up with a trade agreement that aims mainly at export between women entrepreneurs. 

 

Golah-Ebue Avwerosuoghene Hope's picture

I am in support of the last line given above by Colleen Ambrose, a trade agreement between women entrepreneurs will go a long way in ensuring women's stability in the business and work environment and this will create more room for women to empower themselves and others along their line of business. It will further eliminate unhealthy competition between women and the male folks in bidding sometimes for the same spot.

Sanja Popovic Pantic's picture

I agree with Susannah, tax incentives are very powerful and this potential should be more exploited for the sake of women's entrepreneurship advancement in a way that you propose.

Nancy Mitchell's picture

Hi all. The session on Social Protection and Care Work with Nora Spinks, Vanier Institute of the Family and Blandine Mollard, EIGE will begin shortly! Happy chatting.

Blandine Mollard's picture

Good morning, afternoon and evening everyone, my name is Blandine, I am a researcher at the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE in short). I am based here in Vilnius where it’s Friday, 5pm.smiley

Nora Spinks

Hi

It is a pleasure co-facilitating this discussion with you!

Carla Kraft's picture

Warm greetings everyone! Carla Kraft from the WE EMPOWER programme, jointly implemented by UN Women, European Union and ILO. Looking forward to the discussion.

 

Nora Spinks

Hi Carla 

Would you be willing to start us off with a bit of information about what you have been doing on Social Protection and Care? 

Blandine Mollard's picture

I am very excited to discuss and hear from you as I am finishing a report on how unpaid care is shared between women and men in the EU and with which consequences. Looking forward to our talk. 

Nora Spinks

We have been doing week-over-week polls with families since March 10 

there seems to be 

1. more meaningful conversations happening between couples 

2. more childcare sharing between couples 

3. more household managment sharing between couples

4. more men doing groceries 

5. women still more worried and more likely to be planning for the future (e.g schools in the fall) 

our survey of children and youth support the adults reporting 

our survey of marraige therapists is being analyzed now ... stayed tuned - results expected to be release inthe coming weeks 

our survey of grandparents goes in the feild in the next few weeks 

the loss of grandparent care is felt by many parents and children 

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

Hi everyone.  I'm co-founder and President of Quantum Leaps, a global accelerator for women's entrepreneurship.  Also Co-Head of the US Delegation to the W20, and Chair of the W20 Women's Entrepreneurship Working Group. Care is of great importance to WEs.  Look forward to some great discussion on this vital topic.

While we're waiting for our facilitators, I'm going to post several recommendations relating to Care and Social Protection from the draft W20 Communique:

 

2. Use all levers of policy and political will to enable a transformative shift in stereotypical social norms and gender roles, including men's responsibility for care work, that deter women from achieving their full economic potential.

- Promote education and raise awareness about gender equality targets and efforts to eliminate gender stereotypes and unconscious bias in all forms, including politics, business, technology and entrepreneurship.

5. Significantly increase public funding towards affordable, quality, and professionalized childcare and long-term care so that by 2030 these services are available to all women in or re-entering the labor market.

6. Implement by 2030 policies for mandatory paid parental leave schemes including non-transferable entitlements for a second caregiver to promote shared responsibility of care work and a better work-life balance.

10. Ratify by 2025 ILO Convention No. 156 on Workers with Family Responsibilities....

 

Nora Spinks's picture

Hi Everyone

Messaging from Canada (hot humid Canada) ...

today we will be discussing 

1. How can we expand social protections to include women entrepreneurs?

2. Recognizing the disproportionate role that women play in providing care, how can governments ease caregiver responsibilities through targeted policies and programs?

3. What role can the private sector play in encouraging equal uptake of care responsibilities?

it is a pleasure to meet you all here in this space!

 

 

Nancy Mitchell

Hi Nora! In response to questions 2&3 I would say that both public and private sector have a role to play in ensuring equal take up of leave policies between partners (e.g. providing, encouraging, and normalizing take up of paternity leave and parental leave for men), as well as ensuring leave policies recognize and are available to all familial models and partnerships (e.g. single parents, same-sex partners, etc), and ensuring flexible work arrangements (e.g. reduced working hours, working from home, increased communication between manager and employees to develop work plans and methods of communication while employees are on leave, etc). Governments should have national standards and companies must ensure these are properly implemented, encouraged, and normalized. Would love to hear thoughts!

Stephanie Dei

@Susannah it's not too late - please do invite her to join in the discussion.

Blandine Mollard's picture

Hi Nora, thanks for sharing these questions. We can see that the public health crisis we are going through at moment is reminding us of how essential care work is, whether it is done for pay or informally. But it has also increased the burden of care on women considerably. 

 

Dilay Karakadioglu's picture

Hello everyone! It's the first time that I am taking part in this event. My name is Dilay, I am 23 years old and currently working as a business analyst for the Belgian Ministry of Finance. I am graduated in political sciences & public administration and try in my daily life to get informed about gender equality and being active at my level, it is something very close to my heart. I hope to learn a lot from all of you today :) 

Blandine Mollard

To get the discussion started, I'd like to bring up the point of family leave options for entrepreneurs. EIGE has looked into parental leave rules and have found that certain characteristics could make prospective parents ineligible to parental leave most commonly insufficient work history (in 16 EU countries) and self-employed status (in 10 countries). I imagine the situation applies also to other sort of leaves.

Dilay Karakadioglu

@Blandine Mollard I didn't know this! Actually, I have the feeling that the entrepreneur statut is still "new" and it is easy to get this statut. But again, for women this aren't that easy and there are not enough incentives for women to start their own business and being entrepreneurs. How this issue can be solved according to you? A better regulation, a real framework for both women AND men entrepreneurs? 

Nora Spinks

Women Entrepreneurs can opt in to Employment Insurance Special Benefits (maternity and parental leave) in Canada

There is limited uptake 

Blandine Mollard

@Dilay We are starting to see some countries opting for more universal systems for ex for parental leave or for childcare services but in many places, those benefits/services are mostly available for people in employment. Losing access to some employment based benefit can be deterring women to switch to the self-employed status. 

Carla Kraft's picture

Hello everyone, please share the invite for others to join our converastion via social media @Empower_Women @eurogender :)

Carla Kraft's picture

Hi Dilay, welcome! Perhaps a good overview to get your mind thinking is found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcqt0QzgUFU&feature=youtu.be This is UN Women and feminist econmists' work to value unpaid care work. Care work needs to be recognized as a contributor to GDP and the overall economy. This is a basis of an economic argument for gender-responsive government care policies.

Blandine Mollard

@ Carla, so many good points in this video. It mentions that the economic value of unpaid work in a country like Switzerland, it is equivalent to the finance sector (which is gigantic in that country). It also highligths the penalties women experience by being so involved in unpaid care. In our research we have found that the unequal division of labour between women and men and the devaluation of care work contributes to continuing gender segregation in education and in the labour mar­ket. It has a strong effect in perpetuating women’s lower labour force participation over the life course, men’s lower engagement in child rearing and women’s disproportionate participation in precarious employment, and reinforces the gender gap in pay and pensions

Nora Spinks

@Carla, 

as we increase our global conversation about the Care Economy, the focus will shift to the role of the care economy's roile in supporting the market economies around the world 

COVID lockdowns and physical and social distancing has maganified the significance of unpaid, oftern nrecognized work in homes, in long term care facilitities and in communities  

see https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/care-economy/lang--en/index.htm for a great resource on the Care Economy 

 

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

Blandine, the ineligibility for parental leave for self-employed status in 10 EU countries seems important to address via op-eds, and a public relations and social media campaign that highlights both the unfairness and the economic impact of this policy.  Then it seems that a targeted education campaign with EU and national policymakers seems to be in order.  We also need to turn this into an economic argument, buttressed by statistics and persuasive facts, some told in the form of stories.

Getting input and advice from the other EU countries that DO NOT have this ineligibility status for self-employed women seems like one way that you could come up with an effective strategy for pursuing this with the 10 governments and the relevant EU directorate(s) (sorry, I don't know the current structure).

 

Blandine Mollard

Virginia, yes we will publish these findings soon because it highligths all the categories of parents missing out on the possibility of taking time to care for their children. And we know that uptake of parental leave by men 1) often depends on compensation levels 2) can help establish a more equal sharing of care in the family. 

Carla Kraft

Absolutely @Virginia and great point @Blandine Mollard. The Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)  provides guidance in building comprehensive social security systems and extending social security coverage to all, particularly the most vulnerable and those working in the informal economy, so that is a start. But what would an expanded government social protection that covers entreprenuers look like in your views?

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

The short and superb UN Women video is exactly the kind of thing that can help to change minds, including the mind of the public.  Important ideas presented very simply and persuasively.  In addition, I think that we need arguments that present more of the economic impact that policymakers and decision-makers could be persuaded by.  The economic impact through a woman's life cycle can be enormous -- e.g., the impact on the size of a woman's pension in her old age.  

Blandine Mollard

We did a similar kind of analysis in 2017, showing the impact on GDP that could generate some gender equality gains, especially increase the participation of women in STEM sectors. It is mind-blowing and it is true that policy-makers respond to those arguments.  Economic benefits of gender equality in the European Union, Literature review: existing evidence and methodological approaches. http://eige.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/ti_pubpdf_mh0116176ennpdfweb_20170516164243.pdf

Carla Kraft's picture

@Blandine Mollard I want to pick up on your point about paterntiy leave. What do you think of mandatory paternity leave policies? It has been shown to enable women's return to the labour market and support more equal sharing of care.

Blandine Mollard

@Carla, it is very interesting because some countries are starting to realise that long maternity leaves are penalising women on the labour market and making equal sharing of care more difficult for the family later on. We see some making some parts of maternity leaves transferable to fathers or by moving towards one parental scheme inspired by the ‘Icelandic model’ where you have one leave with blocks of time reserved for fathers and some of mothers. Now in the EU, since the adoption of the Work Life Balance Directive last year, it sets minimum standards for paternity leave (10 working days) and for paid parental leave (17 weeks). Of course now, the big question mark is wether countries will implement it or if austerity measures will push this to the back burner.

Blandine Mollard

In response to COVID and the school closures, some EU countries are expanding family leave benefits to support workers in combining employment with intense care needs (with school and day care centers closed). For ex, Belgium has introduced a ‘COVID parental leave’ accessible to all parents up to age 12 and to parents caring for a dependent child or adult with no age limit.

Dilay Karakadioglu

According to me, there should be mandatory paternity leave policies. It is a necessary step to achieve equality. I think that making mandatory paternity leave policies could have a positive impact for men who will see this as an incentive.

Dilay Karakadioglu

@Blandine Mollard Indeed! :) I don't know if you have read "The Age of Women: Why Feminism Also Liberates Men" by Alexander De Croo but it gives a good overview about those issues and what Belgium is doing. 

Blandine Mollard

Thank you for the rec! I will look this up. Regarding mandatory paternity leave, it seems that this is the case in only 3 countries in the EU (Italy, Portugal and Belgium smiley). In your experience, do people go along with it and take leave or do people find a way to work around the mandatory aspect?

Dilay Karakadioglu

@Blandine Mollard The father is granted 10 days leave from birth and these days off can be taken all at once or spread out, within 4 months from the day of delivery.I know that people go along with it, which is great! However I think that 10 days is absolutely not enough...Nevertheless, in my workplace, there a lot of fathers and they often do home office in order to be there for their children since their wife is working as well :) 

Carla Kraft's picture

Colleagues and friends, please stay tuned on https://www.weps.org/resources as the WE EMPOWER - G7 programme will be sharing guidance notes on parental leave for the public and private sector. Thanks for your contributions, insights and resources!

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

Nora, re: your original third point about getting the private sector more involved with the issue of Care, has that been specifically addressed with the WEP?  Is that one of their objectives?

 

 

Nora Spinks

I think its time to shift our language away from the term "informal" care 

there is nothing informal about providing care 

we provide care and receive care from either

  • a person with no connection to the care recipient (paid privately or through public funds) which is recognized in GDP measures (may be long term or short term care) 
  • a volunteer (friend/neigbour or through a service provider, community program or faith organization) some of which may be measured as in-kind contribution to the economy
  • a family member of extended family member

all which are part of the care economy 

 

 

Nora Spinks's picture

In Canada, paternity leave (we call it second parent leave/benefits to include any second parent) is relatively recent, athough shared parental elave has been available for a while. We found the change in benefits changed conversations between managers/supervisors and expentant fathers in the workpalce from "are you taking leave?" to "when are you taking leave" - as expectations changed in homes and workplace we saw behaviours change 

Nora Spinks's picture

WOW an hour has flown by ... our offical time is up for this discussion -- feel free to keep the conversation going 

It is a joining you in this inportant discussion!

 

Blandine Mollard

Thank you Nora and all of you here, I need to leave and go start my round of unpaid work but I wish you a lovely discussion or good end to the week. It's been a pleasure!

Dilay Karakadioglu

It's a super great initiatve, I am glad to have taken part of this discussion! Thank you very much for everything that you have shared, I have learnt so much in one hour!! Do you mind if I connect with you on LinkedIn? :) 

Nora Spinks's picture

@Blandine

It was a pleasure co-faciliating this discussion with you

i look forward to many more conversations in the future

Nora

Nancy Mitchell's picture

Hi all. Thanks for a great session on Social Protection and Care Work. Starting shortly is a discussion on Digital Economy and E-commerce Solutions with Cheryl Miller van Dÿck, Digital Leadership Institute; Deloris Wilson, Axl Impact Studio; and Marina Santalices, Google. As always, don't forget to share with your networks via social media and tag us at @Empower_Women and @eurogender. Happy chatting!

 

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck

Good morning from Northern California, dear friends! Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck here, Director of the Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute.  Excited to check in with you and our awesome facilitators to address the "Digital Economy and E-commerce Solutions" discussions this morning/evening :)

Marina Santalices Amigo 's picture

Welcome everyone, Super excited to kick off the next online discussion on "How we can support women entrepreneurs' access to technology to compete in the digital economy?"

 

Deloris Wilson's picture

Hi all! Joining from the U.S. and looking forward to discussign access to technology and participation in the digital economy. 

 

Marina Santalices Amigo

Hi Deloris, great to e-meet you! Very impressed with your track record and would love to hear from your experience focusing on diversity, any best practices on how we can go beyond gender in the digital divide and access to the digital economy from those who are systematically being excluded from it? 

Marina Santalices Amigo 's picture

I'm Marina, I work at Google leading our Women Will program which aims to help women gain economic opportunity for themselves and we believe access to digital and tools online are key to make it happen! Would love to kick off the first question asking the room:

  • How can we work together from all sectors: public, private (tech companies specifically) and civil society to close the digital divide? 
Marina Santalices Amigo 's picture

Hi Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck , really honored and excited to co-host this discussion with you and Deloris Wilson, such remarkable careers and experience in this space. 

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

I'm Virginia, President and Co-Founder of Quantum Leaps, a global accelerator for women's entrepreneurship.  Am also Co-Head of the US delegation for the Women20 (W20) for the G20 countries, and Chair of the Women's Entrepreneurship Working Group for the W20.

 

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck's picture

Good morning, Deloris and Marina!  Great question, Marina. These three players are critical for closing the digital divide:

  • Public Sector: For leadership and incentivizing private sector to support programs addressing the digital divide;
  • Private Sector: To share know-how, experts/expertise and tools that represent the "gap" which needs to be closed; and 
  • Civil Society:  The people and organizations with the insight into the challenge itself and how to apply the resources from Public/Private sectors to actually close the divide

 

Marina Santalices Amigo

Great points. From my end working in the private sector I see there's a lot of intent and great programs but we still see that there's so much work to do and so much more we can, starting by the private sector looking at themselves and bringing more women to leadership positions and creating more diverse teams and more inclusive products. How can a group like the one we brought together in this discussion work more together beyond this week to make these changes happen (I know the question is too broad but would love to hear from your experience what your take on this is). 

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck's picture

Good morning from the West Coast, Virginia!

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck's picture

Dear Marina and Deloris, I would love to hear about Women Will and AXL, and your respective work in the area of today's discussion :)

Marina Santalices Amigo

Women Will is a Grow with Google Program that aims to upskill women across 48 countries to give them access to digital skills and tools so they can participate and equip themselves to find better jobs in the digitalsphere or start their business. In India for example one of programs Internet Saathi, we trained +30M women on basic digital literacy so they can learn how to use a smart phone, I know this dicussion is focused on the EU but this is a great example on how we trained women in rural areas in India so they can have huge impact in their communities. I will share a case study from one of our beneficiries who, thanks to the knowledge she gained online she was able to teach girls and women about menstrual hygiene. She eventually set up a production unit to manufacture sanitary napkins and employed disabled women from her village to help them earn livelihood. 

Marina Santalices Amigo

This is a very niche example from our program in India, but in other markets like Japan or the E.U we also work with women entrepreneurs to help them kick off their business and pitch their businesses to secure funding and capital as well as equip them with leadership skills to gain confidence. Happy to share more best practices. We also have a huge focus on supporting micro small businesses and more diverse audiences, like in Brazil by training transwomen, women with disabilities and many other minorities that are excluded to help them gain livehood :) 

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

To Marina's question and Cheryl's additions, I  think that one key component that we want to get involved in pushing for women's digital equality will be women entrepreneurial advocacy groups that push hard for digital access, in both urban and rural areas.  The gaps in access have become increasingly clear in recent months as a result of the Covid crisis, with so many children needing to be home-schooled, and also adults who were able to keep their jobs often having to be able to work from home.  Those without good internet access were at an extreme disadvantage.

 

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck

Excellent point, Virginia. I am certain that the effort from advocacy groups has not let up, but fear that, like the women suffering from lack of access themselves, our own plates are extremely full, voices are becoming muffled, and resources for capacity-building are even harder to come by than usual. Here I am speaking very much from my own experience, but do wonder if the very lack of digital capacities that existed before is hindering even further the ability to keep up -- for women themselves and for the (civil society) organizations that are working to support them.

Marina Santalices Amigo

100% agree with both, and would love to talk more about women in rural areas. As I shared in a previous comment from our case study in India, we've seen huge impact and amazing success stories by simply giving women in rural areas access to digital skills and devices so they can gain financial indenpende and learn how they can create new ways of income. I don't see that many programs focused on including women from rural areas, and there's a huge opportunity and potential from doing so, specially in times of Covid19 where urban areas are becoming more unsafe. 

I've also haven't seen that much research on what specific digital skills are needed for the future we are heading towards. There's the obvious digital skills like ads marketing, cloud, coding etc... but would love to learn more about specific needs so we can proactively build programs together 360 involving all parties to help more women accessing the digital economy in a more impactful and efficient way.

Deloris Wilson's picture

Hi Marina and Virginia, I'm Deloris - Founder and Principal of Axl Impact Studio, an adivsory form for inclusive ecosystem building where I support orgainzations including Black Girl Ventures, HBCUvc, Alice and others navigating tech entrepreneuership and access to capital for BIPOC groups, particularly. I've previously designed and led a public-private partnership among Georgetown University, Google and the DC Mayor's Office which implemented a number of initiatives to bridge the digital divide --  looking forward to sharingn some of those practices throughout our discussion. But first, to answer Marina's question: 

  • Public Sector: Utilize it's power to convene, endorse and elevate the solutions, partnerships and people addressing the digital divide 
  • Private Sector: Open its doors -- an immense amout of knowledge and potential is stored in-house but often siloed from the needs on the ground 
  • Civil Society: Keep public/private in the know, they are often removed from the realities of everyday, making it easier to ignore problems or apply non-impactful solutions
Deloris Wilson's picture

An interesting point for the US is that Black and Latino populations most often access the internet from their mobile phones, not desktop computers. So when we think about the school platforms for kids or resource platforms for entreprenuers, we have to consider how they're being accessed at the onset and whether or not they're designed for optimal use. 

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/20/smartphones-help-blacks-hispanics-bridge-some-but-not-all-digital-gaps-with-whites/

Deloris Wilson's picture

In terms of entrepreneurship, and as someone that works in venture capital, I struggle with this immense push for "women in tech, women in tech" which often leaves non-tech enterprises as secondary for support. I really enjoyed a previous activation in DC that brought togeher women technologists and non-tech entreprenuers to co-design together.. the knowledge exchange from trusted, reliable sources is key. And being able to ACT on that knowledge and inspiration with actual contacts is a must -- hosting a course is great but providing a contact as an ongoing resource is even better.

Deloris Wilson's picture

Here's an example of some of that real-time/community-centric knowledge-exchange in action: https://www.techrebalanced.org/

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

To Marina's question above, I also think that it is extremely important for the big tech companies and trade and professional associations to partner with women's business associations and international initiatives to help drive uptake of digital equality.  For example, in the case of Google, its Women Will initiative and early partnership with the Women's 20.  In terms of the GSMA organization (mobile telecom), its work with Equals.  This is really important in terms of creating alliances of corporations; women's business associations, incubators and accelerators; governments; and international organizations all working on and building a common agenda.

Deloris Wilson

I absolutlely agree -- those alliances feed into ongoing support through Employee Resource Groups and even Supplier Diversity Programs. With BEACON, we aligned with ChIPs - the women in IP network (a community of IP attorneys) to host a series of "Startup Law 101" events across three years and supported by Google's Patent teams. This shared knowledge across the aisle to hundreds of women founders while also creating a community of incubators, associations and non-proifts who had existing services but were disconnected from communities of women entrepreneurs. There remains tremendous amounts of asymmetrical information in terms of resources and support. availlable, and I'm often surprised with how much awareness and connection can do. Often, we don't need to spin up a new program but simply connect those who need support with the institutions already applying it. Those channels of information are often skewed, antiquated or simply not designed to meet people where they are. 

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck's picture

Good point, Deloris.  It makes me wonder how much we collectively agree that the question of the digital divide has received the attention it requires during the COVID19 pandemic... What are the communities most impacted, and are we effectively addressing their needs - during the current crisis, and also in terms of the recovery? 

 

Deloris Wilson

Yep, crises exacerbate issues already in place - while also creating new ones. The challenge here, I think, is in relief versus recovery -- and that's a balance we'll be straddling for some time. We have to meet peoples' basic needs... and in 2020, access to the internet (meaning access to the digital economy) is a basic need. Following food, shelter and safety, of course. If our goal is to empower, we must ensure these basic needs are met across the board.

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck's picture

I couldn't agree with you more, Virginia. One key issue for me is involving Civil Society in the tackling of the digital divide challenges themselves, with support and know-how from public and private sectors. This is the domain of non-profits and NGOs imho. Involvement of the "trusted third party" keeps the social mission central and is critical for delivering against the objective of closing the digital divide itself.

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck

Huge respect - and massive gratitude - to the excellent public/private partnership programs you mention here too, Virginia, and who lead and support some of the most successful global initiatives to close the gendered digital divide! :)

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

One pilot initiative that I am working on now with a program called FutureForward is designed to link women scientists and other women in STEM with very successful women entrepreneurs.  We're in dialogue about this with the Women Inventors Committee of the Association of University Tech Managers (AUTM, a college tech transfer organization), and one of the 7 or so top-ranked universities in the US is expected to be our first pilot.  This is still under wraps right now, but we are very excited about it.

Marina Santalices Amigo

I would love to know more about this and see how we can potentially support from our Women Will network of partners and programs to make this happen. 

Marie-Elisabeth Rusling's picture

In Bulgaria where you have the highest proportion of women scientists entering the work place compared to men in Europe, only after a few years numbers fall drastically. Women drop out. And this was explained to me by Bulgarian women association and women in tech representatives as a result of a) unfriendly working environment ("too many hoodies") + b) lack of favourable social / maternity policies. So it is not enough to have more women in tech, retention is a big issue! Which calls for public and private efforts combined.

 

Deloris Wilson

Thank you for bringing up this very real point -- retention! Efforts are often so focused on the "recruitment pipeline," ignoring the very real and very grave drop-offs after only a few years of work. Another factor often impacting retention is the gender-pay gap, and I've applauded movements calling to publicize tech salaries..if this information were publicly released, or mandated at the federal or state level, it could actually be monitored and enforced.

Marina Santalices Amigo

There's this issue as well in Japan because of their cultural norms, women tend to leave work after their first child, because the household always falls under the women. Sharing below what we did in Japan to help tackle this issue. 

Back in 2014, we learned that In Japan, 62% of women stop working after childbirth due to long haul and inflexible work environment and social norm to keep women inside homes. To combat this Google launched #HappyBackToWork campaign with 1.000+ companies, NPOs and local governments to show support for women who get back  to work. We launched co-marketing campaign with 1,000+ partners using Women will brand and series of trainings for leadership, digital tools and community building in 100+ cities throughout Japan. We provided trainings to 2.5M women and stakeholders to change work culture and environment. We then saw a decrease in % of women leaving work, obvs not attributed only to this campaign but efforts like this involving everyone have huge impact. 

Marina Santalices Amigo 's picture

Love all those points. 

@Deloris, 100% for the women in tech focus, we work with a lof of amazing micro-entrepreneurs, many women in underprivileged situations sometimes need basic online tools, to be able to put their hairdressing business online and gain more customers, and micro small businesses are led by many women, and if we want to truly shorten the digital divide we need to proactively include the whole spectrum of entrepreneurs, from tech-founders to the small local shop, restaurant, bar etc... 

@Virginia, on this 100% with Women Will we have ongoing partnerships with UNW, World Bank, W20, ILO and many other women's organizations, and ongoing conversations with organizations like Beyond the Billion, information is power and connecting the dots in this crowded ecosystem is key to have more impact and push for change. But I will take this learning to proactively think how can we bring together even more organizations and people together to create more meanigful programs. 

@Cheryl 100% agree on the needs and what do these communities actually need, many times private, public and civil society jump on building solutions and programs before having all the information on what the communities actually need, insights are key to understand what needs to be done. 

 

FYI I've been leaving comments above on the first questions and answers. :)

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

One other initiative that we're working on for the US is called IGNITE:  Creating an Innovation Ecosystem that Works for Women.  Here's the overview.

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck's picture

I love the model you mention, Deloris. We also organize a startup weekends/hackathons (without calling it that), asking women themselves to tackle issues disproportionately impacting girls and women, as a way to stimulate them into (tech-enabled) startup, but without an emphasis on the technology itself. The initiative is called "Move It Forward," and it works a bit like this: Over 2 days, we and our partners provide Participants (teen and adult women) the mission (e.g. "Women vs. COVID19"), 2-3 digital skills workshops, and coaching. THEY deliver projects. Which are amazing. We have organized this event with partners about 15 times across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. It is a subtle and effective way to deliver digital skills (thank you, Diana!) that support women with starting up - along with Community, Mentorship, and concrete Outcomes that give them startup experience to propel them onwards.

Deloris Wilson

I love this! I'm a huge believer in supporting people who experience the challenge in crafting the solution to it. Also, love the meld of teams among teen and adult women - building connections and organic mentorship relationships through activity. Will definitely be digging in more! 

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck

Thank you, Deloris! :) I moved back to the US to start deploying our programs in the Americas and Asia. Let's talk about collaborating :)))

Marina Santalices Amigo

Can you share the website to this program, couldn't find it online, and seems like a great initiative where I can see some of our Women Will trainers and volunteers wanting to get involved if you need more resources. 

Deloris Wilson's picture

Have you all come across any effective mentorship platfoms at scale? We worked with WERKIN, a UK-based, womyn-owned company to facilitate connections for the BEACON community. It was pretty seamlelss functionallity-wise but we ran into the same issue of mentor-burnout as so many other programs face. We know how important that personalized guidance is..would love to know if you've seen other impactful solutions at scale?  https://getwerkin.com/

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck

I've encountered a lot of Mentorship programs but find this is hard to scale in multilingual regions, like Europe and beyond. Mentorship for startup, especially early stage, is a very social- and language-specific thing, but I would imagine the best chances for scaling would be in English, so probably a US and/or UK-based programs like that you mention. If I'm not mistaken, Ellevate also provides mentorship: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/

 

Susannah Haan

I think the big problem with mentorship programmes at large scale is the need to pay for administrators and matching technology, even if the mentors' time is free. But matching the mentors and mentees still takes time, as does the administration of the programme. And there is another question as to whether it should be free at scale, or whether there should be a paid training programme instead. Some mentoring programmes are unfortunately an attempt by companies to get services for free / on the cheap rather than to invest in their women. Others can be really good, but we need to be careful not to assume that all mentoring programmes are the same. Many work well in smaller groups because someone already knows many of the people and so they can be matched better. This personal knowledge is harder to scale, so then you need the technology which then needs to be paid for. So this is a more complex matter to organise than many people think and it is very important to manage expectations. 

 
Diana Rusu's picture

Virginia, this is an excelent point. Around the world 3.6 billion people remain offline; with girls, women and marginalized groups least likely to have access to technology.  UN Women and UNCTAD co-champion the SG’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, helping to map and organize initiatives, mechanisms and programmes within and beyond the United Nations on digital inclusion. We are also helping to shape recommendations on how to leverage digital finance for gender equality and women’s empowerment as part of the SG’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs.

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck's picture

In my experience in EMEA, there is very little out there that supports women with low/no digital skills into entrpreneurship. And, as I have shared with Virginia in the W20 context, I believe this is becoming an increasing barrier-to-entry for women starters. This is why I make a distinction between

  1. Tech-enabled Startup (E-commerce); and
  2. Tech-driven Startup

Women entrepreneurs are falling seriously behind in both categories because, everywhere in the world, they are much less likely to possess the skillsets, wherewithal, and/or access required to participate fully in either area.  Women themselves, Society and innovation itself suffers greatly. 

These are critical questions when we consider what kinds of innovation by/for/about women we are missing out on in the current crisis. And it concerns me as to how we will (re-) engage women entrepreneurs in the recovery.

Marina Santalices Amigo

Hi Cheryl, would love to connect more on this as we are rolling out our presence in EMEA, and how we can support more and make our Women Will program across EMEA more impactful and more driven by the communities needs. 

Deloris Wilson

This distinction is so necessary - and I hope is incorporated into more recommendations and action-items in this space. They require different approaches and efforts but must be addressed in tandem. Arguably, every small business is a startup - what differentiates them is the founders' perspective on how that business is to grow (often enabled through technology). I believe support and advocacy, particularly in the US, is skewed towards tech-driven startups over tech-enabled companies...with the latter actually being the primary driver for job creation for the masses. 

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck

I would love to hear more about Women Will, and it would be my honor to work with you Marina. I'm now on the US West Coast, so we can even discuss in the same time zone, I think ;)

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

Deloris and Marie-Elisabeth, I so much agree with you about the importance of retention for women in STEM.  That is a big area of interest in our IGNITE:  Creating an Innovation Ecosystem that Works for Women initiative, which will be both a publication and an online platform.  The bro environment, the pay gap, and the absence of care programs are definitely some of the disincentives for women staying in STEM.  I'm also very interested in the problem of the algorithms that misrepresent women's perspectives, and very much want to see STEMpreneurs addressing these algorithmic challenges.

 

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

Cheryl, thank you for your kind words.  

And may I add that Cheryl is one of the real superstars on the W20, bringing huge knowledge to both the Digital space and the Women Entrepreneurial space!

 

Marina Santalices Amigo 's picture

This must have been the shortest hour I've lived in a long time, I've learnt so much from all of you and leaving very inspired and energised to continue working on these issues and support more women. Would love to connect more with all of you to find solutions together and connect the dots of all the organizations even further to have more impact.

Deloris Wilson's picture

Too short, indeed! Marina, Virginia, Diana, and Cheryl - it was such a pleasure sharing knowledge and resources with you. I look forward to continuing to learn and build together.

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

Ecommerce, by the way, is a huge area of focus for the W20 Women's Entrepreneurship Working Group, and it is clear, post Covid, that ecommerce is going to become even more important during our rebuilding phase as we move out of the pandemic phase.  It will be critical that women's business associations, accelerators and incubators push for ecommerce initiatives for women, in addition to STEMpreneuership and STEAMpreneurship more generally (with the A for the Arts).  Many women-owned businesses are not tech businesses per se, but tech-enabled businesses.  So the A for the Arts, design, and the human interface will be very important.  Wish this online discussion group could go on for the rest of the afternoon.  You all are great!!!

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck's picture

Feeling is likewise, amazing women! Let's please connect and stay in touch :)

 

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

And Deloris, you and I are both in the DC area -- but perhaps for now we should only "meet" via Zoom!  I was so impressed with what you were saying on our Zoom call -- and here today.  What a great discussion!!!  

 

Marie-Elisabeth Rusling's picture

Thank you! Wishing you a great week-end and hope to catch up with many of you over next week's discussions.

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

Yes, yes, yes!!  The shortest hour in history.  Let's stay connected!

Marina Santalices Amigo 's picture

100% would love to connect more potentially on Video Conference to learn more about your work and experiences since these are invaluable and I'm so honoured to have been able to learn and share with all of you today. Specially since I would love to pull in Google's resources through our Women Will program to support more women and your input would be super useful to make this even better. 

Thanks ladies and have a great weekend.!!! Great discussion! 

Diana Rusu's picture

@Virginia, e-commerce is an importnat element in the context of COVID-19 as well. In days, thousands of businesses created a page on Facebook, Instagram and pined their buisness on the map. @Marina, maybe you cold add what are some observations from Google in reference to the online marketing  and commerce. 

While people in general are concerned about the growing pandemic, the youngest generations are particularly altering their purchasing behaviors.

One survey of U.S. and U.K. consumers found that 96% of Millenials and Gen Zs are concerned about the pandemic and its effects on the economy. This concern is leading them to change their behavior more dramatically than other generations, which includes cutting back on spending, stocking up on items, and spending less on experiences.

Nancy Mitchell's picture

Hi all. Looks like everyone is getting connected. Happy to help connect people offline if needed/desired. 

Nancy Mitchell's picture

Hi all. Thanks for many great conversations today! Feel free to keep the conversation going on the weekend and we will resume with scheduled discussions on Monday at 12PM ET on Entrepreneurship skill-building, combatting stereotypes, and inclusive entrepreneurship with Kellie Kreiser, Thunderbird School of Management, Arizona State University; Tania Saba, Université de Montréal; and Nancy Wilson, Canadian Women's Chamber of Commerce. Looking forward to continuing the conversation!

NIEVES CABELLO MEDINA's picture

Hello everybody, 

Concerning the question: 2. How can we support  the digital transformation for women entrepreneurs to build their businesses online?, I would like to highlight the role of the MENTOR. The configuration of a pannel of mentors over the world cann contribute to the development of women entrepreneurs in different fields (finance, digital marketing, operations, ...). In many programs the Mentor has become a kew support for entrepreneurs in their different phases (from the concept idea or starting to the business consolidation). In digital transformation, MENTORS can provide a personalised service workinf closely with the women entrepreneur, facilitating the access to new markets, providing specific tools for digital transformation according to the nature and peculiarities of the business. This mentoring service can be financed by the public sector taking into account the experience and capabilities of mentors for providing services to women entrepreneurs. The mentoring service can be limited to a number of hours for specific matters and to the achivement of certain key outputs for the women entrepreneurs (traffic, sales in internet, google position, ...)

Miguel Atanet Armida's picture

Recently, the Commission has presented the 2020 report on the progress to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Regarding Goal 5, Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls:
"The commitments to advancing gender equality have brought about improvements in some areas, but the promise of a world in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed, remains unfulfilled. The current pandemic is also hitting women and girls hard. Globally, women make up three quarters of medical doctors and nursing personnel. Women already spend three times as many hours on unpaid care work at home as men. School and daycare closures require parents, especially women, to care more for children and facilitate their learning at home. Reports from several countries suggest that domestic violence against women and children is also rising during the global lockdown."
As regards Goal 5, the EU has unfortunately moved away from the sustainable development objectives.
What do you think about this?

Charlene Lambert's picture

Thank you for bringing the status of Goal 5 to light, Miguel. I'm Charlene Lambert with the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (international NGO). Gender Equality is indeed a huge undertaking, and we should definitely be able to make progress and not move backwards. There is still too little recognition and appreciation for women's issues and rights, and the potential benefits of having everyone involved in our society to the fullest of their potential. In the past, there was verbal recognition for the need to do more, but not enough real actions were implemented. It's my understanding that the new Commission is of the idea that 'walking the talk' will take priority over simply talking. Concrete actions are now required.  We are watching and advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs for strategies in support of women that have goals and measurable results to be achieved. These actions will help to move us forward.

 

Stephanie Dei's picture

Good morning All, I hope everyone had a restful weekend! 

The conversation continues today with a scheduled session at 12PM EDT/  6PM CET on Entrepreneurship skill-building, combatting stereotypes and inclusive entrepreneurship led by our facilitators: 

  • Kellie Kreiser, Thunderbird School of Management, Arizona State University  

  • Tania Saba, Universite de Montreal 

  • Nancy Wilson, Canadian Women's Chamber of Commerce

We look forward to discussing this topic and so much more with you today.

Nancy Mitchell's picture

Hi all. We will be starting the discussion on Entrepreneurship skill-building, combatting stereotypes and inclusive entrepreneurship shortly led by our facilitators Kellie Kreiser, Thunderbird School of Management, Arizona State University; Tania Saba, Universite de Montreal; and Nancy Wilson, Canadian Women's Chamber of Commerce. 

As always, feel free to reply to the comments of others or add your own thoughts. You may touch on the guiding questions highlighted under the 'read first' tab, as well as touch on other questions that come up. Don't forget to suggest recommendations to inform our upcoming advocacy tool, and tag us on social media using the handle: @Empower_Women

Kellie Kreiser's picture

Good morning from a very hot Phoenix (113 F / 45 C)!  I am Kellie Kreiser, the Executive Director of “Thunderbird for Good” at Thunderbird School of Global Management.  My team develops and implements women’s entrepreneurship programs around the world.  We’ve reached over 170,000 women in over 100 countries so far – but as we all know, that is just a drop in the bucket for what is needed.

Hopefully during this discussion, we’ll all discover some great resources and examples of best practices around women’s entrepreneurship and busting stereotypes!

Nancy Wilson (she/her)'s picture

I’m Nancy Wilson and I’m delighted to facilitate today’s online discussion with Kellie Kreiser, Tania Saba, and Eva Vazquez Ortiz.

I’m the Founder and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce and a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).

Kellie Kreiser

Good morning, Nancy!  Great to be working with you today. I am envious of your weather!

 

Virginia Littlejohn's picture

I'm President and Co-Founder of Quantum Leaps, Inc., a global accelerator for women's entrepreneurshhip in the US.  I'm also Co-Head of the US delegation to the Women20 (W20) of the G20 countries, and Chair of the Women's Entrepreneurship Working Group. Note that Women's Entrepreneurship is considered a cross-cutting issue, related to Labor Inclusion, Financial Inclusion, Digital Inclusion, and Inclusive Decision-Making. I wanted to share with you the Women Entrepreneurial issues that will be in the W20 Communique this year.

17.  Develop policy frameworks and action plans, and provide financial support, training, and programs to strengthen women's participation in the entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems and to build women's capacity.

18. Offer incentives and targeted programs to increase the number of women-owned and women led companies, including in ecommerce and STEM.

19. Incentivize the investment community to incorporate a gender lens in their decision-making across all asset classes, and foster the development of gender-responsive business loan officers and investors (including women angel investors and venture capitalists) with a view to increasing women's access to capital.

20. Create conditions to build capacity and increase opportunities for women-owned and women-led businesses to access markets, by setting national year-on-year goals with regard to procurement, international trade and eccommerce.  Set a target of a minimum 10% increase in public procurement by 2030 (by a minimum of 10% increase in improvement for each country according to its own baseline). Report on annual progress on women's access to these markets (corporate and public procurement, international trade and ecommerce).

21. Collect sex-disaggregated data to facilitate evidence-based policy to improve women's entrepreneurial research and development as well as international comparison.

Several additional notes:

In the Covid Communique, we have modified the language in #17 to say:  "Develop and fund action plans to stimulate femaile participation in entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems by supporting the start-up, scale-up and sustainability of women-owned businesses including in the digital economy."  We may be modifying the language in #17 to reflect this.

In addition, under the Menu of Actions, under item #17, we expect to be adding a bullet that says: "Create a Women Entrepreneurial Showcase of Good and Best Practices, including case studies, in order to accelerate learning."

Kellie Kreiser

Welcome, Virigina - And thanks for starting us off with a bang! I couldn't agree more that gender is a cross cutting issue. You mention creating case studies and collecting sex-disaggregated data.  Both of those are incredibly important elements in fighting stereotypes against women entrepreneurs and changing public perception.

Nancy Wilson (she/her)

Thanks for joining us, Virginia!  Thanks for sharing information on the W20 Communique.  Is it available for download?

Eva F. Vazquez Ortiz's picture

Good morning! I'm Eva Vázquez, Director of the Global Family Business & Entreprenuership Center @ Thunderbird School of Global Management. I have vast practice designing and managing entrepreneurial development programs for private and non-profit organizations. I have participated as lecturer, judge and/or mentor for several programs (USA, Latin America, MENA Region) dedicated to support women entrepreneurs. Eager to start these important conversation!.

Tania Saba's picture

Hello to all,

I am delighted to be joining the online discussion.

Allow me to present myself, Tania SABA founder and holder of the BMO Chair in Diversity and Governance and is Professor at the School of Industrial Relations at the Université de Montréal.  I oversee the Quebec and Canada Francophone chapter for the Ryerson-led Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) project.

Nancy Wilson (she/her)'s picture

The first question to guide the conversation today is:  

How can governments encourage women’s entrepreneurship by busting stereotypes on entrepreneurship? Please share some effective campaigns.

Charlene Lambert's picture

Hello, it's great to join this discussion. I'm Charlene Lambert with the Women Entrepreneurshp Platform advocating on behalf of European women entrepreneurs.

Kellie Kreiser

Welcome, Charlene!  I'm looking forward to hearing more about your work in Europe and where you've had the biggest success in advocating for women entrepreneurs. What's worked?

Eva F. Vazquez Ortiz's picture

I think, often entrepreneurial development programs focus much more on the micro business and self-employed women. Both are important sectors, Yet, there are many women entrepreneurs ready to scale their ventures but they need advanced management training, access to technology and capital. They also need mentors able to connect them to potential customers and suppliers. But many of these women won’t be able to join startup accelerators/ incubators far from home or engage in formal education programs.  It is time to start designing platforms to meet these women needs.

Kellie Kreiser

Yes yes yes, Eva! COVID has not only accelerated the use (and need) for technology based solutions and platforms, but it has alone shone a light on how far women are behind and bridging the digital divide.

Nancy Wilson (she/her)

I agree! Programs for businesses at the scale-up stage are difficult to find - especially for women business owners who may have additional barriers to participation (e.g. child care).

Tania Saba's picture
  • totally agree

  • From a recent survey conducted in Quebec (April and may 2020)

    Women Entrepreneurs find themselves in smaller, less well-financed and generally smaller businesses.

    They admit that they will have a harder time surviving the crisis...

    WE are just as confident in their ability to get through the covid-19 crisis

    As much as men, some WEs saw the crisis as an opportunity for business development.

    As much as men, some WEs saw the crisis as an opportunity for business development

    Kellie Kreiser

    Tania - have you come across any good examples of women entrepreneurs finding business opportunity in the pandemic?  I've seen a number of our women business owners pivot to producing products/services in demand due to COVID. I've also seen a few clever women embrace social media to keep their customers engaged in things like facebook Live cooking shows. What have you seen?

    Tania Saba

    Hi Kellie, Here are some of the findings :Women that found that the pandemic can turn into an opportunity to grow their businesses are

    • WE that intend to turn their business around by adapting their range of products or services. They also intend to adapt their sales channels and expand their network, particularly at the international level.
    • They focus on ways to accelerate the digital shift and wish to be supported in  developing their business by participating in innovation workshops, training to develop their business processes and enhance their business development skills.
    • More opportunities in professional, scientific and technical services and in manufacturing where WE are less represented
    • More opportunities perceived by smaller businesses (Turnover -$100K).

     

    Kellie Kreiser

    More opportunities are perceived by smaller businesses?  That surprises me!  

    Tania Saba

    Probably more agile and easier for them to adapt their services and products

    Barbara Orser's picture

    Good afternoon and good morning 

     

    Thanks Kellie and Tania for facilitating the session today. Thanks Virginia for your ongoing input and thoughtful suggestions. What a fabulous initiative and a pleasure to meet so many ecosystem leaders!  

     

    By way of introduction, I am an Entrepreneurship scholar and faculty member at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa, founding member of the ‘Global Women’s Enterprise Policy Group’ and Women (W)20 Acting Head of the Canadian delegation. Related technical reports can be viewed at the Women Entrepreneurship Research Exchange. I consulted recently on the development of a series of evidence-based assessment tools, including diagnostics that focus on Benchmarking Financial Readiness and Benchmarking Managerial Readiness”. These tools are part of portfolio of free learning aids, reports, podcasts and other resources hosted on the Scotiabank Women Initiative Knowledge Centre.   

     

    Telfer research has found that women are under-represented as participants and staff of many entrepreneurship and small business support programs and advisory services. Barriers reflect recruitment and selection biases, organisational culture, the absence of metrics, reporting and accountability, masculine content, language and imagery of entrepreneurship, and limited knowledge about equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) among program managers. Many EDI support initiatives remain pilot, ad hoc, or single events that often showcase diverse entrepreneurs. Few training organisations support strategies to attract and retain diverse women entrepreneurs. Technology accelerators are particularly problematic (see below0

     

    In response to the questions posted, it is my view that we need: 

    • Gender-smart entrepreneurship content / curricula that reflect the expectations (e.g., perceptions of success, priorities) and experiences of women – within post-secondary education and public/private small business support organizations; 
    • Better integration of academic (estimated to account for 15% of all entrepreneurs) and public/private small business support organizations (e.g., sharing resources, talent , knowledge mobilization);
    • Public funding linked/based on demonstrated ability to attract and retain diverse women, and the impact of training on participants using gender-disaggregated data (e.g., entrepreneurial self-efficacy, small business financial knowledge/confidence; start-up intentions). This includes safe spaces and welcoming cultures; and
    • Increased funding targeted at women-focused SME support organizations, to sustain a robust ecosystem and to ensure training meets need. In Canada, women-focused training ORGN outcomes (e.g., firm survival, job creation) are commensurate with loan guarantee schemes, etc.  Paulina Cameron and Jill Earthy shared earlier some of their organization’s resources and impressive results.

     

    Other sources: 

    Orser, B., Elliott, C., & Cukier, W., (2019). Strengthening Ecosystem Support for Women Entrepreneurs. Access at: http://sites.telfer.uottawa.ca/wer

     

    JPMorgan Chase & Co. // ICIC (2016). Creating Inclusive High-Tech Incubators and Accelerators: Strategies to Increase Participation Rates of Women and Minority EntrepreneursAccess at: https://icic.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ICIC_JPMC_Incubators_post.pdf

    Kellie Kreiser

    Barbara, you are speaking my language here.  Particularly with "gender-smart curriculum".  When we develop our programing for women, it is equally as important to get the gender elements right as the elements of culture and language.  Otherwise the training falls flat.  Thank you for these wonderful resources!

    Nancy Wilson (she/her)

    Welcome, Barb!  I agree with your recommendations.  I would be interested to explore the integration of academic and small business organizations further.

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    I think award programs have been one successful strategy -- these can be government, private sector of women's business organizations.  Top suppliers to the government or to major corporations can also be showcased.  Also, major international institutions can showcase top women-owned and women-led businesses.

    Showcasing non-traditional businesses in manufacturing, AI, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Mining etc. can help change stereotypes

     

     

     

    Kellie Kreiser

    I like the element of story-telling in these suggestions.  I think it is imperative that we show that "women owned business" doesn't always mean a small business or a traditionally female activity (like food or textiles).  As well, there is a lot of research showing that if women are not involved in the development of these new technologies, not only do the technologies not work for half of the population, but they perpetuate negative stereotypes.  Why is the default gender of Siri and Alexa - digital assistants - female?

     

    Charlene Lambert's picture

    Their is an excellent tool put out by the EU that deals with inclusive entrepreneurship. Some of the points they raise include promoting women's entrepreneurshp widely in society, providing role models, etc. .This tool needs to be in the hands of more policy devleopment offices.,https://betterentrepreneurship.eu/sites/default/files/Better_Entrepreneurship_Policy_Tool_Inclusive_Entre_-_Women_.pdf

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    Thanks for the treasure trove of information, dearest Barbara! Barb has been at the cutting edge on women entrepreneurial research for several decades!

     

    Barbara Orser's picture

    Charlene - great to meet you. I agree that this OECD report is extrremely helpful, If all governments adopted these evidence-based  measures, incusion and our conversation would be very different. Perhaps this might be a lead recommendation of this initative... thoughts? 

     

    Tania Saba's picture

    Women Entrepreneurs seem less inclined to use accelerator incubators, yet when asked how they can acquire skills to better develop their businesses, they identify them as a means that can be very helpful.
    What are the barriers that explain their low participation? Any thoughts?

    Barbara Orser's picture

    Ahhh. ... thank you Virginia

    Eva F. Vazquez Ortiz's picture

    I think the GEM report is another good source of information. They published a Women Entreprenuership special report in 2019. https://www.gemconsortium.org/report/gem-20182019-womens-entrepreneurship-report

    Nancy Wilson (she/her)'s picture

    I'll post the second question to guide the conversation - even though we're already talking about it!

    What supports are needed to enable inclusive women's entrepreneurship?

     

    NIEVES CABELLO MEDINA's picture

    hello everybody, Let me say that there are few inititives ... or these are not disseminated. There is a singular initiative Women Now Summit https://www.womennow.es/es/the-summit/ which will be celebrated in Madrid in December 2020 (Covid willing). This will be the second edition.It seems to be an extraordinary opprotunity to know inspiring histories from women.

    BUT I think that many of these kind of events forget the value of "ordinary" women that have built a company or a project without any privilege (in terms of education, family heritage, economic conditions...).

    I consider that governments must promote this kind of events but taking into account the participation of successful women entrepreneurs that are not part of a reputated family or that have benefited from the socioeconomic conditions.

     

    Kellie Kreiser

    Nieves - this looks like a great event.  I'm a huge believer in the power of storytelling.  How will this event share these stories for those not attending?  Perhaps there can be an opportunity to record some of these tales of "ordinary" women either by video or audio? (Like StoryCorps style?)

    Barbara Orser's picture

    In response to Tania’s question (as noted), there is evidence that barriers include:

    • recruitment and selection biases
    • macho organisational culture
    • the absence of incentives and metrics to attract and retain women entrepreneurs
    • masculine and male-dominated training content, language and imagery of entrepreneurship, and limited knowledge about equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) among program managers

    Technology accelerators are particularly problematic  

    Nancy Wilson (she/her)'s picture

    On the topic of combatting stereotypes, here are my 2 cents:  

    If governments want to support and encourage women’s entrepreneurship, they need to provide funding, grants, and general supports to the sectors in which women are doing business (e.g. retail, services).  The obsessive focus on tech and a narrow definition of “innovation” and euphemisms like “high-potential” tell women that they will only be of value if they build businesses as men do.

    If women are supported building businesses, in general, then girls and young women will grow up with more role models (across the board) and a belief that they can actually do and be anything they want.

    Charlene Lambert's picture

    I have been sharing the tool with some of my contacts, at all levels of governmentand am starting to get some reactions.  A personal note with an offer to discuss might be helpful, even better than having the tool sent out in big mailing.

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    One of the issues that I'm most interested in is the acceleration of innovation as a result of the pandemic, and what people are doing to cope; the accelerated use of technology; the impact all of this will have on business travel; what I anticipate will be the growing impact of the Internat of Things to monitor new things that will need to be measured; the growth of telemedicine; the growth of what I expect will be a new field of Covid compliance; etc., etc.  What I call Seeing Around Corners.  I think that accelerators, incubators, women's business associations, Chambers of Commerce, trade associations, governments and universities will all have a major role to play in educating entrepreneurs in how to deal with these changes.  I see new opportunities in entirely new industries. 

    But at the same time, we need to build capacity to better enable existing businesses to develop modified lines of business in order to be sustainable, transform and scale up.  And governments need to provide programs to retrain entrepreneurs and others who are slammed by the pandemic.  So many changes and challenges at once!

    Nancy Wilson (she/her)

    I like the idea of "seeing around corners" but I think we have to be honest with the entrepreneurs we work with (and ourselves) and acknowledge that there are some things we cannot predict or prepare for.  What can we do, then, to sleep at night?  We can prepare ourselves and our businesses to weather economic disruptions and recessions (the normal kind) and follow some basic guidelines to protect ourselves in case of an emergency.  For example, entrepreneurs need to pay themselves first.  As individuals, they need to build up an emergency savings account.  

    The Canadian Women's Chamber of Commerce has a proposal for a program that is designed to support women-owned businesses during the COVID-19 recovery period.  We are shopping it around to different government agencies to get funding - it's been a challenge.  But we will continue to push for the financial support women entrepreneurs need.

    Eva F. Vazquez Ortiz's picture

    Tania, as women struggle to juggle between their responsibilities at business and home, I have seen too many women feeling guilty of the time they devote to their entrepreneurial careers. That sense of guilt is hurting many. In many other cases they can't simply devote the time these programs require. Child care is becomes key! 

    Charlene Lambert's picture

    Agree, Nancy. We need women in all lines of work, to contribute all of their ideas, skills, and insights, and we need to watch the language that we use to ensure that their work is always valued.

    Barbara Orser's picture

    Stereotypes: part of curricla must be to inform students/entrerpreneurs about the history of what we deem to be 'an entrepreneur.'  For example, CVOD_19 presents an opportunity to showcase entrepreneurial womXn at the forefront of responding - through services including healhcare (bedside) innovation. Yet another media example of gender bias is mask production, where 3D printed masks/shields hit the news as being innovative (picturre male wearing said mask) but home-made collectives comprised of women donating time to make masks is not an innovation.

    Nancy Wilson (she/her)'s picture

    On the topic of inclusive entrepreneurship, all programs need to:

    • Be transparent about what their eligibility criteria are with respect to "women-owned and -led".  A concrete definition must be stated and it must be clear how the participants met the criteria.  I've seen so many programs use the "women-owned OR -led" loophole that ends up with funding for women's entrepreneurship going to businesses that are owned and managed by men (but have one woman on the management team)
    • collect and publish data on gender, race/ethnicity, etc.
    Charlene Lambert's picture

    I did having the inclusive entrepreneurship tool in hand gave me an inroad where previous attempts to discuss women's entrepreneurship did not work.  It was developed by the EU and OECD, and gives some us some backing when we want to raise awareness.

    Kellie Kreiser's picture

    Virginia - I share your interest/worry/excitement about the acceleration of technology brought about by COVID.  On one hand, we are seeing women who lack the technology and connectivity to participate in the digital surge, but on the other hand, we are seeing a LOT of ingenuity.  So many of our entrepreneurs have become power users of Facebook and Instagram.  And we are finding that by using facebook Live for our training, we are reaching thousands.  I agree that we need to accelerate this trend even more with training and capacity building.

     

     

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    I think that we need to get many more women angel and VC investors, who better understand the kinds of businesses that women want to start -- not just maniacally tech focused, so often STEAM oriented rather than STEM (with the A standing for the Arts), and often more socially minded or lifestyle minded that traditional STEM businesses started by men.  Male angels and VCs often don't "get" the kinds of businesses that women entrepreneurs start.

    But in the tech and manufacturing sector, I think that we need to get women much more interested in patents. There are so many things that women could develop that most men wouldn't think of.  Take the Roomba and Scuba robotic vacuum cleaner and mopping devices -- the company was co-founded by a woman and a man as an explosive-mine seeking company.  My guess is that she's the one who thought of these other ways it could be deployed!

    Kellie Kreiser

    Do you know if anyone has researched the financial aspect of this? Having the people who best understand the problem developing the solutions SHOULD equate to products and services that are more successful.  You would think that investors would be looking for these opportunities as they would make them more money.  Why do you think these women innovators are being entirely overlooked? Is it the "bro club" of the VC world or something more?

    Nancy Wilson (she/her)

    I agree.  I think that trademarks, licensing, patents, joint ventures between two smaller entities to take on a larger market, etc. These are great strategies to grow businesses.  Fixed assets are a burden but intangible assets have minimal carrying cost and can add massive value to the company.  We need to get the legal and accounting programming to implement this.

    Nancy Wilson (she/her)'s picture

    I think that combining entrepreneurship skills training with advocacy and self-advocacy topics would be interesting.  Financial literacy training is important but if you combine financial literacy with information on how certain policies disproportionately benefit men and how to take action - that is powerful.  And if you do some work around self-advocacy and negotiating for better rates or terms on financial products, then that provides a link between the topic and a plan of action.

    Charlene Lambert's picture

    There is generally a lack of data, and this is fundamental 

    Barbara Orser's picture

    So many great ideas - I love the notion of including 'self-advocacy' and training on Facebook Live ... I am learning lots today 

    Kellie Kreiser

    Barbara - sometimes we hold Zoom webinars and broadcast them at the same time on facebook Live. A crazy workaround, but it works!

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    Great comment on Facebook Live for training, Kellie!

    Nancy W, I am working on an initiative right now dealing with definitions of women-owned, women-led, founders, etal for the International Trade Centre in Geneva (part of the UN and the World Trade Organization), the International Standards Organization and the Swedish Institute of Standards.  They will be convening a series of stakeholders across the ecosystem to help think through the impact of definitions with regard to access to markets, access to finance, supply chains, statistical comparability across countries, etc.  If you all are interested in this, I can get some more people added to the stakeholder panels.  The lack of good terminology has frustrated me for decades, so I'm glad to be working on something that may be able to help move the needle!

    Nancy Wilson (she/her)

    That would be great.  I'm very interested in this topic.  I'll email you about the initiative.

    Tania Saba

    Very interesting Virginia....please let me know if you also intend to examine the case of self-employed women.

     

    Eva F. Vazquez Ortiz's picture

    Kellie, I agree. It is time to start designing platforms to meet these women needs. They certainly have the products, the passion and the right mindset to grow but scaling a business requires a larger set of resources. We need to help them grow from founders to CEOs, we need to connect them to the right mentors, to the right investors and to potential customers. We need to make sure they know how to go from 2 employees to 200 employees. Access to technology but more importantly how to leverage in that technology to grow their businesess. Education is critical and social media as well as other new platforms could help us reach them. 

    Kellie Kreiser

    I'm a big fan of trying to meet people where they already are.  Some of the most interesting innovations I have seen are leveraging existing platforms that women are already on - facebook, Whatsapp, Youtube, Instagram, TikTok, WeChat, etc. 

    Charlene Lambert's picture

    This is very interesting, Virginia. Thank you for sharing. The terminology, definitions, and standards are also fundamental to women's economic empowerment, and I would imagine that the examination of these is long overdue.  I would like to be kept informed of this topic and potentially participate in the discussions. 

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    Kellie, one of the things that my organization Quantum Leaps is working on now is an initiative called IGNITE:  Creating an Innovation Ecosystem that Works for Women.  After we get full funding for it, we'll be developing both a book and an online platform.  It's looking at the whole innovation ecosystem, and how women do, and DO NOT, fit in.  The corporate environment, corporate open innovation, patents, biases in algorithms, unconscious biases, the mismatch with male equity investors, etc. etc. etc.

    Kellie Kreiser

    I love this! So incredibly necessary.  I hope that you get the funding (and soon!)

    Kellie Kreiser's picture

    One of the framing questions for this session was on combatting stereotypes.  In this discussion so far we have touched on storytelling and research.  I'd like to also add the idea of counting.  One of the most interesting websites/apps I've seen in recent years is very simple but effective. Gender Avenger ( https://www.genderavenger.com/).  It uses crowdsourcing to ask people to pay attention to when women are not represented. It started with "manels" but has progresses.  They have been able to draw attention to the organizations and events that are not thinking about/acting on gender equality in their programming.

     

    Tania Saba

    Thanks Kellie, I would also like to add that diversity among WE is not given enough consideration. The networks seem to me to be very siloed and every effort must be made to reach a greater number of women with more diverse profiles.

    Kellie Kreiser

    This is a great point.  "Gender" can be painted with too broad a brush.  There are so many different realities for women across race, ability, intersectionality, culture.  We have have to tell their stories too.

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    Thanks for your comment, Charlene.

    I think it would be very helpful if the organizers of this part of the forum could cull the names from this and other contributors and get me any names of people you think will be interested.  We'll be doing some webinars and online forums with different stakeholder cohorts, and then some online workshops that will be helping to integrate thinking.  So glad that some of you are interested in this topic!!

    Kellie Kreiser's picture

    Another great "counting" tool is the  UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles Gender Gap Analysis Tool: https://www.unglobalcompact.org/take-action/action/womens-principles/weps_tool  This is a wonderful way for companies to look inside and measure how they are doing on gender equality in their operations.

     

    Eva F. Vazquez Ortiz's picture

    Virginia, that sounds very interesting. Sometimes we underestimate the impact these definitions have as we design and develop new pograms.  

    Kellie Kreiser's picture

    I'd also like to share an example of utilizing storytelling within training.  Our DreamBuilder program (www.dreambuilder.org) uses storytelling to help women see themselves as entrepreneurs.  In the Latin American version, we use a telenovela (the "trailer" is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYqdXz2Ixa4&list=FLxT7Cfm1qB5U1wmXUim5LYg&index=4)  in the English language version, we use more "reality TV"/real stories and also animated shorts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DfQ0zXlx3o&list=PL3AepGWNmgjaCjTkV9isQnPPOMCkJbgzf).  We've heard time and again that women see themselves in these stories and it helpd them break out of the stereotypical molds they carry in their own heads.

    Charlene Lambert's picture

    One important problem that needs to be better understood and addressed is the finding that women are more motivated by necessity than by opportunity when starting a business. From a policy standpoint, entrepreneurial startup programmes that focus on opportunity identificaiton and creation may not be as important as creating programs that help women better understand how to transfer resources, skils, and knowhow from household management activities to business creation, especially when they have no other choice. 

     

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    Kellie, I love research and especially storytelling.  One thing that I never see enough of is the role of humor in helping to change headsets.  I don't know if any academic research has been done on this with regard to women's entrepreneurship, but I've always thought that it might have a lot of potential. We used it a lot in the early days of the women entrepreneurial movement in the US with women entrepreneurs themselves, and it provided us a lot of hilarity and fuel to forge ahead, with our mantra for the 1970s and 1980s of "Onward and Upward." I created a Lexicon for Leaders in that time frame which had all of our code words, including VELVET, SILK AND PEARLS and then in small letters, "guerilla infiltration tactics." We had so incredibly much fun in those days, and we made real progress.

    Kellie Kreiser

    YES!  I cannot agree enough with this.  I've found that people always make time for things they enjoy.  We've tried hard to insert an element of entertainment into our training.  Women have to balance so many demands on their time... training is often the last thing on the list and the first thing that drops off.  But if we make learning fun (and funny) and incorporate a social aspect to it (networking, community), then we find the women stick to it.  We decided to use serialized story telling to keep the women coming back - they wanted to know how the story ended.  Making the learning enjoyable makes it more effective.

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    Kellie, I love the telenovela idea!

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    Yes, Charlene.  Necessity is such a big part of women's entrepreneurship, rather than opportunity.

    Charlene Lambert's picture

    Great suggestions, Kellie, to use storyteling and reality TV. This will be a great way to connect with  young women.

    Kellie Kreiser

    I also think audio storytelling is something that is coming back into vogue and can be very helpful.

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    This has been such an exciting discussion.  Unfortunately, I have to get ready for my next Zoom call.  I'll try and post some more comments today or tomorrow.  Thank you all for your great content and ideas!

    Kellie Kreiser's picture

    Thank you, Virginia - and everyone!  It was a wonderful conversation!

     

    Tania Saba's picture

    Thanks to all! Great discussion!

    Kellie Kreiser's picture

    I know we are at time, but I encourage everyone to keep sharing resources and their good work.  This forum will be the basis of materials prepared by UN Women. So please do keep sharing things that you think the world should know about!

    Barbara Orser's picture

    Thanks everyone.  

    I too loved the telenovela - very creative and professional!

    Kellie Kreiser's picture

    I forgot to share one final thought ... there is some really interesting work being done on embracing failure and how that results in resiliency.  The aftereffects of Covid is going to mean many people will need to recover from failure.  I'd love to see us reduce the sigma of failure and embrace it.  Some of the interesting things I have seen are:

    The Failure Institute: https://thefailureinstitute.com/

    F*ckup Nights: https://fuckupnights.com/

    Fail fest: https://failfest.us/

    Kellie Kreiser's picture

    Have a wonderful day everyone!  I enjoyed the conversation.  Stay healthy and keep sharing!

    Nancy Mitchell's picture

    Hi all! Thanks for another great conversation. Feel free to continue to post on the platform throughout the day. Additionally, don't forget to fill out our survey on your experience thus far during the Online Discussion.

    Nancy Mitchell's picture

    Hi all. We are closing out today's dicussion although feel free to continue to post this evening and tomorrow morning. Our last scheduled session takes place on July 14th at 9AM ET on The Way Forward - Inclusion and Collaboration at the Heart of Recovery Efforts with:

    •  Zoe Dean-Smith, Vital Voices Global Partnership
    • Barbara Orser, University of Ottawa
    • Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska, WEgate

    We look forward to chatting tomorrow and as always, kindly fill out our survey.

    Colleen Ambrose's picture

    Yes many women tend to begin entrepreneurship because of necessity, but already established women entrepreneurs need opportunity in order to expand their businesses, so that they can become major players in a country's economic growth or the global economic growth.

    Nancy Mitchell's picture

    Good morning all. Today is the final day of the online discussion. Many thanks to those who have participated thus far. Our final scheduled discussion is on 

    The Way Forward - Inclusion and Collaboration at the Heart of Recovery Efforts with:

    •  Zoe Dean-Smith, Vital Voices 
    • Barbara Orser, University of Ottawa
    • Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska, WEgate

    The recommendations posted will be used to inform our upcoming advocacy tool. We look forward to your thoughts! 

    Nancy Mitchell's picture

    Hi all. The discussion on The Way Forward with Zoe Dean Smith, Vital Voices; Barbara Orser, University of Ottawa; and Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska, WEgate will begin shortly. Feel free to respond to the guiding question, as well as suggest any recommendations you have for ensuring women's leadership more generally. Happy chatting!

    Barbara Orser's picture

    Thanks Nancy - welcome everyone!  I am delighted to co-facilitate the discussion with  Zoe Dean-Smith @vitalvoices and Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska @WEgateEU.  I am the Women(W) 20 Acting Head of the Canadian delegation, and Entrepreneurship (women's enterprise) researcher/teacher at Telfer School of Management, Univeristy of Ottawa. 

    Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska's picture

    Good morning, afternoon and evening on my behalf as well!! Happy to be co-faciliating this final discussion as well. I am here as a WEgate community coordinator, working on mobilizing WE eco-system in EU for increased impact on public policies and representing women entrepreneurs' interest at a larger scale (https://wegate.eu/). Looking forward to chatting on the different things we can do to position women as leaders in the heart of recovery.

    Zoe Dean-Smith's picture

    Good day all

    Barbara Orser's picture

    To kick off the discussion, how can we ensure women leaders are at the forefront of pandemic recovery response and strategies?  

    Nancy Mitchell

    Further to this general question, how can each sector ensure women are represented and at the forfront of recovery along the pipeline of advacenement (not only representation of women who are already in leadership roles)? Moreover, how can we ensure that women's leadership in recovery strategies is then translated into leadership and decision-making more broadly once recovery strategies are applied?

    Zoe Dean-Smith

    To Nancy's question, there is a need for more mentorship opportunities and leadership development training, over and above all the other business development capacity building that is offered - a more holistic approach, to ensure long term success.  

    Zoe Dean-Smith's picture

    Based on two surveys that Vital Voices has conducted with the women entrepreneurs in our global network over the past 3 months in response to COVID19, we know that a large focus is being placed on rapid innovationand new product development, the need for diversification of revenue streams and much learning is needed on risk mitigation strategies for the future

    Zoe Dean-Smith's picture

    We are seeing success stories where women entrepreneurs are beginning to pool their resources and form collaborative business initiatives

     

    Barbara Orser's picture

    To inform ideas about the challenges of inclusion and collaboration, our 2019 Canadian assessment of the entrepreneurship ecosystem, found that:

    • Most collaboration among ENT mainstream and women-focused support organizations takes the form of sponsorship or event support and cross-promotions --- and that more meaningful collaboration is needed, such as advocacy and the co-development of ENT programs and training. 
    • Study participants also sought better co-ordination of federal, provincial, (state) and municipal funding to address program duplication and fragmentation of services. This is likely to be an issue with respect to pandemic recovery measures as well.
    • Participants also expressed the need to streamline administrative oversight and reporting, particularly with respect to the small women-focused programs, relative to larger (e.g., innovation) programs.

    Good practice: working with multi-national forums such as the OECD and WE Empower to leverage collective SM reach, messaging, expertise and tools - and pushing government to fund womens support/advocacy groups to strengthen the ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.

    Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska

    Indeed, during our peer-learning webinar organised together with WEgate cooperating partners we have concluded that we need to continue working on three levels: supporting women entrepreneurs through access to markets/finance/information tailored made to this new reality; re-shaping our services as WE stakeholders to correspond to the new normal; and accelerate the policy response (more gender-responsive trade policies, procurement, investors focused on women and alike).

    Zoe Dean-Smith

    Regarding access to markets, as the need for products and services have shifted since March 2020, it would be invaluable for women entrepreneurs to have access to research findings on market trends 

    Barbara Orser's picture

    Zoe, are the Vital Voices study findings available to the public?

    Zoe Dean-Smith

    Yes, we would be happy to share this information. We havent yet done so

     

    Carla Kraft's picture

    Carla Kraft representing the WE EMPOWER programme of  UN Women, ILO and the EU here. Looking forward to a lively discussion. Please don't forget to promote the online discussion on social media and tag @Empower_Women (Twitter) and @EmpWomen (Facebook)!

    Zoe Dean-Smith's picture

    In terms of capacity building training currently being offered by many orgs to women entrepreneurs, over and above the "traditional" course curricula such as strategic planning, human resources management, branding, marketing etc, the new content that we are seeing a need for, based on recent COVID-19 impact survey responses includes :

    • How to fast track to digital innovation
    • business continuity planning
    • financial crisis management
    • making teleworking work
    • human resources : rebuilding your team
    • identifying market trends and rebuilding consumer trust
    • risk mitigation strategies
    • diversification of revenue streams
    Zoe Dean-Smith's picture

    Another initiative that has worked well with the women entrepreneurs in our global network as they navigate the impact of this pandemic on their businesses over the past couple of months has been to organize cohorts of up to 10 women together for 60 or 90 minute "mastermind" calls on Zoom, where they have each had the opportunbity to share their challenges with the others, and then receive thought leadership from the others on the call. While they have not necessarily known each other beforehand and may have been connecting across multiple time zones and continents, two great outcomes have been :

    • they no longer feel so alone in their challenges
    • they have been sharing ideas, contacts and solutions as they all pivot, change direction, change products and services etc

    This has been hugely successful

    Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska's picture

    Indeed, building capacities in regards to digital and financial literacy is quite relevant. We have good examples of WE stakeholders organising webinars or online sessions from members to members or together with finance providers. Thus, not only informing women entrepreneurs on the possibilities for financing but moreover giving them concrete support in accessing it. Another thing we are doing in the scope of WEgate is featuring interviews with female entrepreneurs who are thriving in spite of COVID-19, so to motivate and inspire others (https://wegate.eu/success-stories).  

    Zoe Dean-Smith

    Yes, we 100% agree. Financial literacy is absolutely key to success and what we have observed over the years is that many entrepreneurs are not particularly strong on their numbers, with many of them paying an accountant or bookkeper to manage that part of their business. If we had to "bucket" the financial literacy pieces, for success, it would probably look like this :

    • know your numbers (finance for business 101)
    • understanding financial risk and mitigation strategies
    • accessing finance - loans, grants, pitching etc
    Barbara Orser's picture

    THX -- This is very helpful information for womens enterprise support ORGNs.

    A collaborative women leader who is driving fast-track digital transformation is Sonya Shorey, VP Marketing/Communication at Invest Ottawa and champion of the Mainstreet Program and  WomXn Founders program. The Ottawa program is modelled after Toronto's Digital Mainstreet (https://digitalmainstreet.ca/) Collaboration is further evidenced through contributions by business/legal students, other volunteers and industry leaders rallying to transition brick 'n mortar firms to online commerce - a huge task -one in which your survey indicates iskey to support women entrepreneurs

     

     

    Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska's picture

    For sure one aspect we need to address is closing the digital gender divide. Another important area is internationalization (access to markets, supply chains, etc.). Women entrepreneurs for instance can use the free services of the Enterprise Europe Network (https://een.ec.europa.eu/) in order to find potential partners from more then 60 countries, participate at (virtual) matchmaking events and seek tailored made assistance (on IP, funding, programmes, etc.). And visit ongoing market places for new market opportunities (https://care-industry-together-against-corona.b2match.io/). 

    Barbara Orser's picture

    I am pondering how we might work together to ensure more women are driving and desiging COVID-19 $ measures.  On the first rounds of relief, we saw that support for women entrepreneurs was non-existant or at best, lagging (as discussed on this platform).  How might we ensure that women are leading recovery $ rather than watching "other" businesses benefit from public procurement spending and other relief investments?

    Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska's picture

    Sorry Zoe, I've by mistake reported your comment as offensive:) so more digital skills needed for me as well!

     

    Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska

    No, it is still there (the one about financial literacy, replying to my comment), I wanted to mention that we are talking about more response from investors needed, but we also need to work harder on the investment readiness of women entrepreneurs, so I completely agree with you!

    Carla Kraft's picture

    Loving the sharing of resources, ideas and recommendations. What about the role of women's leadership and decision-making, including in  companies and advancing parity on boards as both a strategy and tool for buidling back better?  Would love to hear some insights from W20 on this point.

    On the Women's Empowerment Principles website you will find various case studies highlighting actions and lessons learned on this. For example one from RELX on "Improving the Gender Balance on Baords and in Leadership".

    Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska

    Absolutely, we need more women to be decision makers in our future societies, these hard times might lead us to creating a more equal world that will be more resilient to future crises. Therefore, the response should place women entrepreneurs – their inclusion, representation and equality – at the heart of the recovery, this is not only in the interest of women entrepreneurs but the entire economy.

    Zoe Dean-Smith's picture

    Thank you for this discussion, Barbara and Gabriela

     

    Barbara Orser's picture

    Great question Carla. A priority of W20 advocacy is ‘inclusive decision-making’ - the theme of today's online forum. This includes:

    gender equality in public political decision-making. 

    equitable access and representation of women in politics and policy-making bodies. 

    And an increase the number of women decision-makers in business.

    These recommendations are underscored by the need to establish targets and quotas to ensure full gender parity on the boards of public and listed companies, and to provide incentives for employers that achieve gender parity in decision-making positions.  

    As evidenced in global changes associated with Black Lives Matter -- change happens with public advocacy and pressure on corporate boards via funders/government/sponsors (no diverse women =  no sponsorship, investment, etc.).  There is need for governments/investor/publics to hold back $ without demonstrated support of diverse women in leadership - including boards.

    Gabriela Kostovska Bogoeska's picture

    It was a real pleasure e-meeting you all, thank you for the discussion Zoe and Barbara! 

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    So sorry that I couldn't dialogue live with everyone, but I had a Chatham House Zoom conference call on women entrepreneurial, financial, and access to markets issues that I had to be on.  I've got another Zoom call starting in a few minutes, but will respond to these posts after I get off of that call.

    Barbara Orser's picture

    Thanks Virginia - this online discussion platform is open  until 5:00 p.m. EST  

    We look forward to receiving your feedback and ideas....

    Barbara Orser's picture

    Thanks Zoe and Gabriela - I enjoyed our discussion and opportunity to communicate with you.

    Charlene Lambert's picture

    Hello everyone, I'm Charlene Lambert with the Women Entrepreneurship Platform in Brussels. The women entrerpeneurship group that I work with in the Netherlands has found this kind of mastermind group meeting online to be a fantastic way of keeping in touch, sharing some important ideas and getting through the crisis. We are organizing these informal meetings in additon to our monthly networking event with a speaker, and our book club. Some are open just for members, and some are open to everyone. Women have a strong need for affiliation, and bringing and keeping us together is important for our success. Thanks to the technology, we can still be in touch with each other.

    Nancy Mitchell's picture

    Hi All. Many, many thanks for the robust discussions had over the last week. We have logged recommendations to be used to inform our upcoming advocacy tool. If you have yet to, we kindly ask that you share your experiences with us via our survey

    Thanks again to all our facilitators and participants, as well as EuroGender for hosting this dialogue on their platform.

    Alexandrina Satnoianu

    It was a pleasure to host the discussion, Nancy! Please count on the EuroGender support at all times!

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    One thing that I think that we will see over the next 8-12-18 months or more is much less business travel. The rich and robust successes of this online forum, the Chatham House Zoom forum that has been going on at almost the exact same time as this forum, and the Women 20 (W20) virtual policy development process of our Communique, a series of policy briefs, and the beginnings of the advocacy process have convinced me that a great deal of what has in the past "necessitated" business travel can in fact be done more effectively virtually via a mix of video conferencing and online fora.

    After the September 11 attacks in the US, my company at the time, TradeBuilders, initiated a series of virtual trade missions -- with the first between the US and Canada, our wonderful sisters from the North.  I think that we are again going to be seeing an explosion in ecommerce (unfortunately, at the expense of traditional retail).  And further, that we will need to do much more with virtual trade missions and international business matchmaking.  I'm interested to know what best practices exist in terms of verfication and validation as to the reliability of international partners when international business travel is not feasible or safe.

     

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    Zoe, I love your list of training needs identified from the Covid-19 impact survey.  Was that done only with VV Grow, or other programs too?

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    Hi Gabriela,

    Have enjoyed your comments on this forum.  I am Co-Head of the US delegation to the W20 and Chair the Women's Entrepreneurship Working Group of the W20.  Improving the ecosystem for women's entrepreneurship in G20 countries is a major priority, and I would extremely interested in talking with you further about WEgate.  I'm pretty maxed out this week, but perhaps we could talk via Zoom next week.  My email is vlittlejohn@quantumleapsinc.org -- hope that we can connect soon.  Best, Virginia

    Virginia Littlejohn's picture

    Barb and Zoe, I'm really sorry that I couldn't be online with you live, but we were discussing the women entrepreneurial agenda with Chatham House via Zoom at the identical time, and I had to be online for that.  Va

    Stephanie Dei's picture

    Thank you all for joining this discussion. A special thanks to the European Union for their generous support of the WE EMPOWER programme which has enabled us to co-host this discussion. Thanks also to the European Institute for Gender Equality and the Eurogender collaboration platform for being our amazing co-host. 

    It has been a beautiful journey this past week as we have seen everyone come together to share resources, best practices and innovative ideas on what is needed to strengthen women’s economic empowerment. We have heard insightful and thought-provoking comments on innovative financial tools, uniting the ecosystem through coordination and collaboration, leveraging digital technology to enhance skills and gender smart entrepreneurship in education as a lever for change and so much more.

    We are excited to go through all your comments and build the Advocacy Tool based off of your recommendations and inputs. The Advocacy Tool can be used to strengthen communication with stakeholders to effectively seek the support needed to enhance women’s entrepreneurship among key decision-makers. Please join us on 9 September as we share back the Advocacy Tool - more info can be found here.

    Although this is the end of our online discussion we hope this is the beginning of new partnerships and friendships. We continue to invite business leaders to make a commitment to gender equality by signing on to the Women’s Empowerment Principles. The WEPs framework is at the core of the WE EMPOWER – G7 programme and our main platform for change. 

    Lastly, we hope to have your feedback on this Online Discussion. Kindly fill out our survey.

    On behalf of the WE EMPOWER G7 Team – thank you and hope to see you again on 9 September!