"Gender differences regarding the importance of technology are striking. According to The Guardian Life Index, women small business owners are far more likely to embrace technology in all its forms and applications than their male counterparts. Significantly, women entrepreneurs value social media at three times the level of male small business owners. The Instituteís research has previously shown that women entrepreneurs are more customer-focused and more likely to incorporate community into their business plans than male small business owners. These traits may explain why women small business owners are more inclined to embrace new tools like social media to engage with customers and build communities of interest."
The study also finds that use of social media tools is much higher among younger business owners, and declines with age, and that usage rises along with company size.
Here are some of the most striking gender differences uncovered in the survey. Respondents were given a list of items and asked to rate them on a scale from -10 to +10. When asked "What matters most to you in business when it comes to technology, such as software your company uses and its websites, as well as what is commonly called "social media"?
Using 'social media' as a tool for communicating about our company
Using 'social media' as a way to find out about prospective clients or prospects
Using 'social media' as a business building tool
Using 'social media' as a means of personal growth and development
Using 'social media' as a way to find out more about the marketplace
Using 'social media' as a way to learn more about our competitors
And, speaking of social media, the study release was accompanied by a YouTube video (click on link below) profiling how one woman business owner is using technology tools in her business, as well as a podcast interview with Institute director Mark Wolf.
To learn more about the study, CLICK HERE to read the news release, CLICK HERE to read a brief executive summary of the study, or CLICK HERE to download the 12-page survey summary report.
The research was conducted online in June 2010 among 1,200 small business owners with between 2 and 99 employees, and focusing on 12 industry sectors, 9 regions and 4 key states. The sample was pulled from a Harris Interactive panel pool of respondents, so the sample is likely not representative of all small business owners - it is likely to be more tech-savvy than average. Nonetheless, the differences seen within this sample are quite noteworthy. (December 2010)
What do the new Census numbers tell us?: In the latest posting on The Womenabler Blog, Womenable President and CEO Julie Weeks takes a look at the most recent statistics on the number and growth of women-owned enterprises in the US - released on December 7 - and shares her first impressions:
"Back in July, the US Census Bureau published preliminary estimates of the number and overall growth of women-owned enterprises as of 2007 at a national level. At that time, we learned that:
There are 7.8 million majority women-owned firms in the US, accounting for 29% of all businesses in the country,
These enterprises employ 7.6 million workers, contributing 6% of the jobs in the country, and
These firms generate $1.2 trillion in revenues, accounting for 4% of all business receipts nationally.
"Just yesterday, however, the Census Bureau released the final numbers, along with more detailed figures at the state and local level, as well as by industry and size level of the firm. What does this new information show? While there is still a lot of data for Womenable and other womenablers to sift through (and sift we shall), we thought that all of you would be interested in our key first impressions and take-aways from this recent announcement. We have three initial impressions to share with you ..." CLICK HERE to read on. (December 2010)
UNDP-IDEP launch womenabling initiative: Womenable has long believed that effective policies and programs are just as important as individual empowerment when it comes to boosting women's enterprise development. Indeed, it is Womenable's raison d'Ítre and our nom de guerre.
This effort will target government policy makers, civil society leaders and research institutes to provide educational programming and materials, with the goal of fostering more gender-sensitive laws, policies and business support programming. The program will include university-based curriculum offerings, including support for a Master of Arts in Gender-Aware Economics which is now being offered at Makerere University in Uganda.
While the program is being launched first in Africa, it will also be launched in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere. Stay tuned, this is an important arrow in the quiver of increasing women's economic empowerment.
For additional information, click on the links above, and read a summary of an AllAfrica.com interview with Winnie Byanyima, the UNDP official responsible for launching the initiative. (December 2010)
Honoring women scientists: UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and cosmetics manufacturer l'Oreal recently announced the upcoming recognition of five outstanding women in science, who will be fÍted at an event in Paris next March.
The women, representing major world regions, are:
Africa and Arab States: Faiza AL-KHARAFI, Professor of Chemistry, Kuwait University, Safat, KUWAIT - for her work on corrosion, a problem of fundamental importance to water treatment and the oil industry
Asia/Pacific: Vivian Wing-Wah YAM, Professor of Chemistry and Energy, The University of Hong Kong, CHINA - for her work on light-emitting materials and innovative ways of capturing solar energy
Europe: Anne LíHUILLIER, Professor of Atomic Physics, Lund University, Sweden - for her work on the development of the fastest camera for recording events in attoseconds (a billionth of a billionth of a second)
Latin America: Silvia TORRES-PEIMBERT, Professor Emeritus, Institute of Astronomy, Mexico City University (UNAM), Mexico City, MEXICO = for her work on the chemical composition of nebulae which is fundamental to our understanding of the origin of the universe
North America: Jillian BANFIELD, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, and of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, UNITED STATES - for her work on bacterial and material behaviour under extreme conditions relevant to the environment and the Earth
This competition is now soliciting idea pitches (not business plans) at its website between now and January 15, 2011. So if you are a women in science and engineering and have a scalable entrepreneurial idea, pitch it!
The competition is being launched in cooperation with Astia - bless them for getting the Kauffman Foundation to once again pay some attention to women's entrepreneurship. (November 2010)
Who makes the news? Take a wild guess: Starting back in 1995, the Global Media Monitoring Project began documenting the extent to which women's voices, faces and stories were being covered in the world's news media. From 71 to now 108 countries, researchers gather data on who is covering and reporting news stories, who is being interviewed, and what the stories are all about. As stated in the report, this effort has documented "the deep denial of women's voices in the world's news media."
A fascinating new report, "Who Makes the News? The Global Media Monitoring Report 2010," has been published tallying up the figures. The result? Some moderate progress has been made, but the faces and voices are still predominately male, and stories focusing on women still reinforce many gender stereotypes.
Here are some highlights:
Just one-quarter (24%) of the people that are heard or read about in the news media as of 2010 are female - a small number, but up from just 17% in 1995,
The voices and faces delivering the news are also predominately male: 37% of news reporters/readers are female, a share unchanged from five years ago,
When women are covered in news stories, 46% of stories reinforce gender stereotypes, and
The area seeing the biggest rise in stories about and featuring women are in the area of science and health (rising from 22% to 32% over the past five years). There has been no change (20% in 2005, 20% today) in stories focused on women's role in the economy - such as women's entrepreneurship.
The report is a fascinating read, and well worth a look. Visit the Who Makes the News website to learn more. Report highlights are available in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish, and the full report is available in English, French and Spanish. (November 2010)
Picturing power and potential: Last year Womenable called attention to Economica, an online exhibit and discussion hosted by San Francisco's International Museum of Women which called attention to the economic contributions and struggles of women around the world.
The IMOW has posted a new online photographic exhibit based on a contest launched within Economica, entitled "Picturing Power and Potential." This 50-photo juried collection, contributed by 20 photographers and featuring women in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States, depicts women as "economic participants and agents of change." It's definitely worth a look and your online comments. Check it out at the links above.
If you have photos you've taken of women engaged in economic activities anywhere on the planet, consider submitting them to the Economica exhibit. Click here for more information. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words - so submit yours (plus a few words about the photo) today.
Finally, make a note on your womenabling calendars that Economica will launch a new discussion next spring entitled, "Young Women Speaking the Economy," in which young women (aged 18-25) from Denmark, the Philippines, the United States and the Sudan will share their thoughts about economic issues and their careers, well-being and professional lives. (November 2010)
Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010: It's billed as a "global movement unleashing new ideas." It's the third (or so) annual focus on "unleashing new ideas" sponsored in large part by the US-based Kauffman Foundation.The Global Entrepreneurship Week website states that it aims to spearhead 40,000 events in 100 countries attended by 10 million people. That's a lofty aim, but there are a wide variety of events listed on the site, including:
a Global Innovation Game on Facebook,
a Global Cleantech Open Ideas competition, and
a Youth Business Entrepreneur of the Year competition.
At one time there was a Women's Enterprise Day held during this week, but women's enterprise appears now to be celebrated by some countries on varying days of the week. Of course, the Everywoman UK conference is held during the week, and other women-focused events can be found here.
UN-INSTRAW launches 3-week dialogue on gender and effective aid: Calling all womenablers! The United Nations' International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, known as UN-INSTRAW and now a part of the UN Women "entity," has announced that it will host a three week online discussion focused on promoting gender-sensitive development, integrating gender considerations into development projects, measuring effectiveness, and sharing good practices in helping women around the world.
The "virtual dialogue" starts November 15 and will be open through December 3. Participants may wish to read the "preparatory working paper" offered as background for the discussion, and to view other items in their Library Section.
First World Statistics Day celebrated with a number of events: Where would we be without numbers? We womenablers know well that women business owners would still be all but invisible if not for statistics that show:
women are starting businesses at a faster rate than their male counterparts,
despite that fact, women-owned firms lag all firms with respect to number of employees and revenues, and
while gender gaps are closing in education and health indicators, and there is growing gender parity in terms of political participation, it is in the area of economic participation and entrepreneurship where the largest gaps remain.
It is often said that what does not get measured does not get managed, so what better way to improve the situation of humankind than to measure - and to celebrate measurement.
That's the thought behind the first-ever World Statistics Day, being celebrated around the globe on October 20: 2010-20.10. That UN Statistics Office website lists a number of activities being held to celebrate statistics. Among them:
In Canada, Statistics Canada is throwing a party for their staff, and celebrating the role that Canada plays in supporting information-gathering domestically and internationally,
In Germany, the German Federal Statistics Office is hosting a conference entitled "What drives politics - How relevant is statistics?" at the Social Science Research Centre in Berlin, and
in Qatar, the Qatar Statistical Authority will be releasing their 2010 Census of Population, Households, and Establishments - and announcing a plan for public use of the results.
There's even a Facebook page for the initiative, which you can "like." (We have, of course.) So, join us in a hearty cheer: "All hail the number-crunchers of the world"! (October 2010)
2010 Cartier Women's Initiative Award recipients announced: Five women entrepreneurs - one each from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America - received the fifth annual Cartier Women's Initiative Awards at a ceremony in Deauville, France. The award ceremony took place at the outset of the 6th annual Women's Forum on the Economy and Society, seen by many as the "Davos for Women."
The Cartier Women's Initiative Award is an international business plan competition created in 2006 by Cartier, the Women's Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD business school to identify, support and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs. The mission of the award process is to:
Identify and support initial-phase women entrepreneurs through funding and coaching,
Foster the spirit of enterprise by celebrating role models in entrepreneurship, and
Create an international network of women entrepreneurs and encourage peer networking.
This year's award laureates are:
Ann Kihengu from Tanzania, whose company distributes solar-powered lamps and mobile phone chargers in rural areas;
Gouthami, who is starting a rural-focused tourism company in India;
Wendy McMillan from the UK, who is launching an Internet platform for professional service providers;
Valentina Peroni from Argentina, who has started an organic baby food enterprise; and
Birami Sock from the US, who is launching a digital receipts company.
To read more about the award ceremony and this year's recipients, CLICK HERE.
Applications are now open for the 2011 awards. For further information about the award criteria and how to apply, visit THIS WEB PAGE. (October 2010)
2010 WEF Global Gender Gap Report published: It's out: the fifth annual ranking, from the World Economic Forum, of how 134 world economies are faring in providing gender equality to their citizens in four key areas: economic participation, education, political empowerment and health. As in past years, Nordic countries come out on top. The top five-ranked countries in 2010 are the same as they were in 2009:
5) New Zealand
The Global Gender Gap Reportís index assesses countries on how well they divide resources and opportunities amongst male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources. The report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas by tracking the following indicators:
Economic participation and opportunity: outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment;
Educational attainment: outcomes on access to basic and higher level education;
Political empowerment: outcomes on representation in decision-making structures; and
Health and survival: outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio.
As this is the fifth year of the effort, the report contains some assessments of progress made. Among 144 economies studied in all five years, 86% show progress in narrowing gender gaps in these areas, while 14% are regressing.
It's also the case, however, that progress has been uneven, taking place in some areas of empowerment more than in others. It is no surprise to Womenable that progress in greater gender parity in economic empowerment is lagging the most. Says one of the study's co-authors, Ricardo Hausmann, Director of the Centre for International Development at Harvard University, "We have found that gaps are closing between women and menís health and education ñ in fact, current data show that in the 134 countries covered, 96% of health gaps and 93% of education gaps have been closed. And, yet only 60% of economic participation gaps have been closed. Progress will be achieved when countries seek to reap returns on the investment in health and education of girls and women by finding ways to make marriage and motherhood compatible with the economic participation of women."
The report summarizes the latest statistics on women-owned firms in the US - much of it from the recent publication by the Census Bureau of its 2007 economic census - and thus provides a useful compendium of information (at least until the full 2007 Census Report on Women-Owned Firms is published in December of this year).
Some of the facts highlighted in the report:
The number of women-owned firms continues to grow faster than the national average: 44% between 1997 and 2007 compared to half that growth among men-owned firms. Further, women-owned firms added 500,000 jobs during that 10-year period, while other privately-held firms lost jobs;
Despite the greater than average growth, women-owned firms (as we Womenablers know), remain smaller than their male counterparts. No new news there, but this report does relate that the average receipts of women-owned firms are just 25% of those generated by men-owned firms; and
The average earnings ratio of self-employed women to their male counterparts is 55% (55 cents on the dollar), far below the 77¢ women wage and salary workers earn for every dollar than men earn, and the 81¢ to the dollar that women managers earn.
The conference itself featured some remarks from Administration officials, including Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the President and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, Council executive director Tina Tchen, and SBA Administrator Karen Mills. Results of several break-out sessions held among attendees will result in a report, which will be published later this year.
For more information about the event, including some video of the opening and closing sessions, CLICK HERE - and for a copy of the new Commerce Department report CLICK HERE. (October 2010)
Starting a conversation on women in power in Canada: It's a provocative title for a series, and an opening salvo in a series of discussions online and in Canada's leading newspaper, The Globe and Mail. Entitled, "Canada: Our Time to Lead," the series will feature stories and conversations on eight important topics, one of which is Women in Power.
A look at the stories and video/photo features so far this month (which is Women's History Month in Canada - this year's theme is "Recognizing Canadian Women in Business") is impressive. Here is a sampling:
CLICK HERE to view and bookmark the series page; you'll want to save it and check in on the stories as they unfold. Three cheers to The Globe and Mail for launching this conversation. (October 2010)
Thought Leadership Greenhouse takes root at Stanford: It's an effort based on an oft-proven premise: that putting a few heads together to think big, shoot high, and build partnerships can reap large rewards.
A new effort just getting underway at Stanford University reports starting with "a simple, yet revolutionary premise: That the next great wave of innovation in Silicon Valley could be led by women. "
Black-eyed peas & women's entrepreneurship: At the 5th World Cowpea Conference (yes, there really is such a gathering), held last week in Senegal, scientists discussed the potential that the black-eyed pea (also referred to as cowpeas) has for economic development and poverty alleviation in West Africa. They also specifically discussed the value that the "cowpea value chain" would have to farmers, processors, wholesalers and exporters in the region.
Laugh if you will (and we admit that we, too, had a chuckle), but assessing the economic value that expanding crop production and processing can have on economic prosperity in Africa is no laughing matter: agriculture contributes 21% of the GDP, on average, in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the fact that between 60 and 80% of subsistence farm labor is contributed by women makes the issue an important one for the economic empowerment of women.
One particular study of interest was presented at the conference: research conducted by Miriam Otoo, a PhD student at the Agricultural Economics Department at Purdue University, who presented a study on cowpea-based street food enterprises in Niger and Ghana. Interestingly the study (based on interviews with 336 women entrepreneurs), found that the average earnings of a street vendor in Niamey, Niger selling chick-pea based products was four times more than the wage of skilled laborers in the formal sector. In Ghana the differences between vendor earnings and formal sector living standards are even more significant, with average vendor earnings almost 16 times higher than the official minimum wage.
The study also identified that while industrial processing of cowpeas is virtually nonexistent in West Africa, processing exists in the informal sector ñ particularly the street food sector. And this has created a significant demand for cowpeas.
So, never underestimate the power of a cowpea! For more information on the conference and the study, CLICK HERE. (October 2010)
IBM 'service jam' focuses on civil society leadership: Here's a good way to highlight one's organizational strengths: IBM is hosting a 3-day online conversation October 10-12 on the value and impact of service (volunteerism, philanthropy, community action). This "Service Jam "is an online event aimed at engaging non-profit organizations, corporations, academic institutions, and government agencies in a discussion on how social innovation can help solve our worldís largest problems.
Special guests include:
George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the U.S.
Ray Chambers, UN Secretary-Generalís Special Envoy for Malaria
Marc-Philippe Daubresse, Minister for Youth and Solidarity, France
Lord Nat Wei, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, The Big Society, UK
Momo Mahadav, President & CEO, Maala Business for Social Responsibility, Israel
ÿistein MjÊrum, Head of Industry Relations, Red Cross Norway
Sam Palmisano, President & CEO, IBM
John Gomperts, Director, AmeriCorps
By bringing together prominent leaders, professionals, and passionate individuals, the Jam aims to generate breakthrough ideas that will redefine service and social innovation. Through IBMís Jam technology, participants can collaborate virtually and have the flexibility to log into the Jam from anywhere in the world at anytime most convenient to them during the three day event. (Again, a great way to showcase their organizational strengths - kudos to IBM for the wonderful "service placement.")
Sounds like a valuable event to peek in on. Find out more HERE. (October 2010)
New leadership at NWBC: Some long-awaited action in women's enterprise policy in the US: businesswoman Donna James has just been named as the Chair of the National Women's Business Council. She joins recently-appointed ED Dana Lewis to lead this important Federally-funded, bi-partisan advocacy organization comprised of women business owners and representatives of key women's business organizations.
To read more about James' appointment, CLICK HERE, and to read the announcement of Lewis' appointment, CLICK HERE.
We join Babson professor/CWBR chair Patti Greene (read her recent blogpost HERE) in offering our applause for this recent enlivening of women's enterprise policy in the US. Fingers crossed that this means that the vacant Council seats (11 of 14) will also soon be filled, and the Council will be up and running at full speed soon.
Good luck and best wishes to Ms. James and Lewis! (October 2010)
Have a Coke and a ... business deal?: Women entrepreneurs will be smiling when they learn of a new initiative launched recently by The Coca-Cola Company to increase the participation of women business owners in its global value chain. Building upon their successful micro distribution center (MDC) program in Africa, Coke CEO Muhtar Kent announced a new "5 by 20" initiative at the recent Clinton Global Initiative conference. This new initiative aims to empower 5 million women business owners globally by 2020, through boosting their participation as suppliers and distributors.
Yes, things really do go better with Coca-Cola! (October 2010)
Lighting candles in Rwanda:
"If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it." ~ Margaret Fuller (1819-1850), early American feminist and activist
Womenable has long known and valued the simple yet profound act of illumination, of creating a spark that can grow from a small light to a mighty flame. Indeed, Womenable's mission is to create those sparks of action for women's enterprise development, by shining the light of knowledge on the characteristics, contributions and challenges of women business owners and by ensuring that the systems that support women's enterprise development - laws, policies and programs - are as effective as possible.
That's what has taken me to Rwanda three times over the past 18 months; to investigate the state of women's enterprise development there, make recommendations for action on a number of fronts (download and read this report to learn what we found and what was recommended), and to light a small fire by delivering women's leadership development workshops in four cities there: Huye, Musanze, Rwamagana, and the capital city of Kigali. CLICK HERE to read the rest of this blogpost. (October 2010)
New ED for NWBC: Some long-awaited action in women's enterprise policy in the US: the White House has appointed Dana Lewis as the new Executive Director at the National Women's Business Council. Prior to her appointment, Lewis served in the White House in the Office of the First Lady. To learn more, click on this link to read the news release announcing her apppointment.
Dare we hope that the appointment of a new Chair of the NWBC is not far behind, as well as the filling of the Council's 11 (of 14) empty seats? The NWBC, established by the Women's Business Ownership Act of 1988, plays a critical role as the voice of women business owner interests and viewpoints in the Federal government. Its inaction in recent years has left a void that womenablers everywhere are anxious to have filled.
Good luck and best wishes to Ms. Lewis! (August 2010)
Women on boards increases profitability, investor trepidation: You'd think that the word is out by now: increased diversity not only has social benefits, but economic payoffs as well. This is true not only generally, but with respect to life in large corporations. However, despite evidence that companies with more women on their boards perform better with respect to return on equity, return on sales and return on investment, stock prices fall in the year after women are appointed to corporate boards. Why? Not because of business performance, but because of investor bias.
So says a new research study from Harvard researchers Frank Dobbin and Jiwook Jung, and colleague Alexandra Kalev of the University of Arizona. Their research is summarized in the July/August issue of Harvard Business Review.
What to do? Shout a little louder, perhaps. Why, then, won't noted corporate research organization Catalyst comment on these findings? Curious ... (August 2010)
New SBA Advocacy analysis shows women-owned employer firms not faring as well as their male-owned counterparts: What's been happening with small businesses over the past few years? We all know - from news reports and economic statistics - that the economy has not grown much at all in most economies around the world, and we are still looking for the light at the end of the recessionary tunnel. But during this time we haven't had definitive news about how women-owned firms have fared compared to their male counterparts. A new report from the SBA's Office of Advocacy sheds some new light.
Taking a look at "employer establishments" that were in business in 2002 and assessing where they stood four years later ( "employer establishments" are the locations of businesses that employ people - about 20% of all firms but 100% of employers - most of whom have just one establishment or place of business), SBA economist Ying Lowrey parses the Census data out by gender of owner, and finds that - for all the talk of a "mancession" - women-owned employer firms fared worse than their male counterparts between 2002 and 2006. To wit:
The average 4-year survival rate for all employer firms in business in 2002 was 70% - including 66% for women-owned firms, 69% for jointly-owned firms, and 72% for men-owned firms;
While the contraction rate of women-owned firms during 2002-06 was lower for women-owned firms than for their male counterparts (22% versus 24%, respectively), so was the comparative expansion rate (26% versus 29%); and
The total net employment change among women-owned firms during this period was -11.5%, compared to a lesser 8.7% decline among men-owned firms.
So, while this analysis is a snapshot of changes occurring only for a 4-year period of time and among a small (but very important) slice of the business population, it shows that women-owned employer firms have been faring less well than common wisdom has led us to believe.
Womenable is pleased to see that the data for this analysis came from special tabulations produced by the Census Bureau for the National Women's Business Council - an interagency agreement set up by Womenable President and CEO Julie Weeks when she was the executive director of the NWBC. (August 2010)
CIPE report looks at WBO association development in Central & Eastern Europe: CIPE, the international economic development arm of the US Chamber of Commerce, has long been interested in supporting the development of women's business associations - and with good reason: they are one of the key building blocks of a women's enterprise development ecosystem. (Note: Read a brief summary of lessons learned in women's enterprise development here, penned by Womenable President and CEO Julie Weeks when she was ED of NWBC.)
A new report from CIPE focuses on the growing strength of women's business associations. What's been behind it? A focus on awareness-raising, awards recognition, and advocacy.
A new women's equality index from the Economist Intelligence Unit: A new gender equality index enters the fray, this time from The Economist magazine's Economist Intelligence Unit. The Women's Economic Opportunity Index is comprised of 26 indicators grouped into five main areas - labor policy and practice, access to finance, education and training, women's legal and social status, and general business environment - and purports to "evaluate every aspect of the economic and social value chain for women, from fertility to retirement."
However - as with other gender equality indices (including the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index and the UN's Gender Development Index) - entrepreneurial activity is not part of the equation.
What countries come out on top in the EIU-WEO Index?
However, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor surveys, these countries have a relatively low share of adult women engaging in entrepreneurial behavior:
Sweden, 5% of adult women own a business
Certainly economic opportunity includes more than self-employment, but until these international indices include some aspect of entrepreneurial behavior, they will not capture the full extent of women's economic opportunity. Easier said than done, however. The main reason such data are not included is that this invaluable information is not yet available to the same extent as are health, education, labor, and political data. More's the pity. (August 2010)
Entrepreneurship community loses shining light: Dr. Cindy Iannarelli, founder of Bernelli University, active entrepreneurship educator, and enthusiastic teacher of youth enterprise, was killed last week in India while vacationing with her son. For details of the story, follow these links:
Womenable has crossed paths with Cindy numerous times over the years, dating from 1993 when she was the first executive director of the National Education Center for Women in Business at Seton Hill College in Pennsylvania. We will miss her energy, enthusiasm, and positive spirit. (August 2010)
AGOA ten years on: Ten years ago the US Congress passed the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), designed to provide economic development assistance to lesser developed economies in sub-Saharan Africa and open up trade opportunities.
While the act has been criticized by some as not in keeping with WTO provisions, it has benefited trade between the US and Africa, and has helped with export and product quality standards, and SME development.
An AGOA forum has been held annually, rotating between an African and a US location. This year's forum is being held August 2-3 in Washington DC, and is expected to attract trade leaders and experts from 38 African nations.
The Brookings Institution has published a report reviewing the state of AGOA in advance of this meeting, which is available at this site. However, a review of the report shows that women rate only one sentence in the 25-page document: "In addition, AGOA has also helped tackle inequality in African countries by creating more employment opportunities, especially for women."
Hmm, chances are that AGOA has done more than that for women's economic empowerment. But, as we well know, what does not get measured does not get managed - nor discussed at fora. C'mon folks! Here's hoping that women's economic empowerment will rate more than one sentence at this upcoming discussion.
There's a good change that it will, though, thanks to the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program, which is bringing women business leaders from Africa to Washington, to attend the AGOA Forum and to meet with government and business leaders in Washington, DC and in Kansas City. Three cheers to the State Department and USAID for making this happen. (July 2010)
New Census figures for women-owned firms released: What's the score? How are we sizing up? Those are the questions we've been pondering lately, as we've been anxiously awaiting the results of the 2007 quinquennial business census for women-owned firms. The latest facts were released on July 13 by the US Census Bureau, and this is what they show:
As of 2007, there were 7.8 million majority-owned, privately held women-owned firms in the US, a 20.1% increase over the previous census (in 2002);
These firms generated $1.2 trillion in revenues, a 27.5% increase from 2002 levels; and
Women-owned firms employed 7.6 million workers, up 7% from 2002.
So, overall, the trends we've witnessed over the past decade or more remain the same: increasing numbers, and increased economic clout. These numbers also indicate a slowing in employment growth - among women-owned firms and overall, as the economy slowed down in advance of our most recent recession.
OK, it's great to have these new numbers, but how about a little context? (CLICK HERE to read on.) (July 2010)
Roadmap charts course for women's enterprise movement in the US: Just a few days ago, a multi-year labor of love was born - when The Roadmap to 2020: Fueling the Growth of the Women's Enterprise Development was published. While the venue was the annual conference of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the participation of many women's business organizations helped make this event happen: from the early support of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and the contributions from women's business association leaders throughout the report, to financial contributions from individual women business owners as well as associations. Corporate support from IBM also helped propel the project from the idea/discussion stage to writing and publication. And, of course, the stalwart stewardship of Quantum Leaps' CEO Virginia Littlejohn, who conceived the project and kept it moving toward fruition, was integral to its completion. Click here to read more... (July 2010)
New census figures for women-owned firms to be released: What's the score? How are we sizing up? Those are the questions we've been pondering lately, as we've been anxiously awaiting the results of the 2007 quinquennial business census for women-owned firms. Well, the wait is almost over! Mark your calendars for July 13; that's the date that the new Census counts for women-owned firms (both 51% majority-owned and 50%+ majority/equally-owned) will be announced by the Census Bureau.
The announcement will consist of a press release, an audio news release/interview, and summary tables - only at a national and state level, but we'll take what we can get! The full report with all of the detail by detailed industry and geography will not be published until December, but in the meantime this new information is just what the data doctor ordered!
All relevant information will be posted on July 13 at the Census' 2007 economic census web site. And, if you'd like to be kept informed of other impending Survey of Business Owners releases (such as when the complete Census reports for women-owned and minority-owned firms are issued), CLICK HERE to go to the Census Bureau's "Notify Me" page. Be sure to check the "Survey of Business Owners data" box. (July 2010)
Navigating the Federal procurement maze: Womenable has been working with American Express OPEN on their efforts to better understand the challenges and successes that women and men business owners are having as they navigate their way through the maze which is the US Federal procurement marketplace.
The results of a ground-breaking survey among current and wannabe Federal small business contractors are out in two well-cited reports. Here are just a few insights that have been uncovered thus far:
On average, it takes business owners 1.7 years of trying to land their first Federal contract - and there's no significant difference by gender or race;
Active small business contractors invest an average of $83,000 annually in staff time and resources to pursue Federal contracting opportunities;
The top tips from active small business contractors? 1) start small and work your way up, and 2) if at first you don't succeed, try, try - and try - again; persistence pays off;
Once they become active Federal contractors, women and minority small business owners are just as successful as the average small business owner - both in terms of business size and level of contracting success;
Women and minority business owners, however, are much more likely than average to be waiting at the starting gate - 48% of non-contractors are minorities and 39% are women, compared to a share of 25% and 28%, respectively, among active contractors;
Women are more likely than average to be using the GSA schedule as an avenue for Federal contracts, while minority business owners place high value on developing relationships with procurement officials and attending as many meetings and match-making events as possible.
To learn more, click on these links to download and read the first two reports in the Victory in Procurement for Small Business survey series:
The third and final report, focused on the value of teaming and subcontracting as procurement strategies, will be available in August.
Visit govtcontracts.open.com for more information about the VIP program. Also OPEN has been working with Women Impacting Public Policy to launch their "Give Me 5%" program - which provides tips and tools for women interested in selling their goods or services to Federal customers. (July 2010)
Gender equality exists in thought more so than in deed: A fascinating new survey, conducted among adults in 22 countries around the world, sheds some light on attitudes toward gender equality. Almost everywhere, solid majorities feel that women and men should have equal rights, that women should be able to work outside the home, and they eschew the notion that higher education is more important for boys than for girls.
However, when push comes to shove, support for gender equality lessens when asked if, when jobs are scare, if first dibs should go to men over women. Majorities in 9 countries say that employing men should take priority over employing women. In addition, when asked if life is better in their country for men or for women, the nod goes to men in 10 of the 22 countries, and to women in only 2 countries.
To learn more about the study, and to download the full report, click here. (July 2010)