Be Fearless Spotlight: Washington Area Women’s Foundation

This Spotlight is a part of a special blog series curated by the Case Foundation featuring Be Fearless stories from the field. Follow along with us as we meet people and learn about organizations that are taking risks, being bold and failing forward in their efforts to create transformative change in the social sector. In this most recent spotlight, we had the chance to sit down with Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, President and CEO of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation for a Q&A about how the Women’s Foundation is living the Be Fearless principles in their work.

Q: What does your organization think it means to Be Fearless?

A: For Washington Area Women’s Foundation, to “Be Fearless” means to stand when others are sitting, raise our voices when others choose to be quiet and push harder when others choose to give up. Being fearless means believing that all girls in our community can grow up with a clear vision of a future beyond poverty. The mission of The Women’s Foundation is to mobilize our community to ensure that economically vulnerable women and girls have the resources they need to thrive. Our overall goal is to move all women and girls currently living in poverty to a place of consistent economic stability—and to get there, we must Be Fearless.

Economic security has been central to our mission since our founding, but it’s not enough to simply say that we are working with low-income or economically vulnerable women and girls—we are being intentional and explicit in our language and our actions. We are letting urgency conquer fear and are no longer leaving unsaid the realities facing women and girls, and the ways that race and ethnicity further contribute to that reality. It’s for that reason, and many more that on January 21st, we launched #our100days, a way for everyone in our community to Get In The Arena and take action. Every day we provide a single task that can make our communities better for the women and girls who live in them.

We believe that every woman should have an equal opportunity to achieve economic security and with our fearless and bold vision, we are continuously forging ahead towards that goal.

In an effort to further address the disparities facing women and girls at the intersection of race and gender, we officially launch the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) this spring, centered around the voices and lived experiences of women and girls of color, coupled with reaching beyond our bubble and building partnerships across multiple sectors to increase opportunities for more equitable outcomes for young women and girls of color in the Washington region.

Q: What goals are you working towards at your organization and how do the Be Fearless principles help you achieve them?

A: With the Be Fearless principles, we can affect real change and we’re not asking for permission to do it. With #our100days, we’ve managed to connect with the community through social media and our email database, and we’ve received real feedback on our action items and work, and have made collective strides to help our Grantee Partners and other community organizations. With #our100days, people can Get In The Arena by doing anything from donating baby clothes to a mother in need, to highlighting women in our communities who have made an impact on our lives.

Moreover, through our YWI, we will initiate policy changes and increase programmatic investments to alleviate the racial and gender disparities placed on women and girls of color in the District. We are in the midst of several convenings with local policymakers, community activists and low-income women and girls of color. Innovation happens at intersections, so making space for these partnerships will help to uncover barriers and identify potential policy solutions as a part of our racial equity and policy initiatives.

Q: What “big bets” have you and the Women’s Foundation made, and how have those goals paid off?

A: At The Women’s Foundation we are firm believers in the saying, “Don’t talk, act. Don’t say, show. And don’t promise, prove.” Our big bet is our public commitment to advance equity for women and girls of color and tackle systemic and structural racism head on so that we can truly advance our mission and ensure that all women and girls in our community have the opportunity to thrive.

Our advocacy agenda is informed by the insights and lived experiences of those who are most impacted. Through our work with #our100days and the development of YWI, we have been engaging our community and seeking their feedback regarding potential solutions that address their most pressing concerns. These solutions serve as the foundation of a larger community action plan, inclusive of a set of recommendations which will inform our advocacy and grantmaking agendas, in addition to identifying potential improvements for current direct service provision and service alignment.

We are solidifying an advocacy agenda, and a list of recommendations that are community-driven and reflect the lives of those most impacted. Through the parallel development of YWI and our advocacy agenda, we intend to create a positive ripple effect across society and ultimately improve the quality of life for women and girls in our community.

Q: Tell us about a time when your organization let urgency conquer fear.

A: A sense of urgency drives us. Washington, D.C. is one of the most powerful cities in the world, yet 1 in 4 women and girls in the region are experiencing economic instability and this number has remained stagnant for a decade. We know that despite the best efforts of many initiatives, generations of our region’s women and girls have grown up in poverty, with little hope of a brighter future—and we can’t let this continue.

The time is now for bold and ambitious changes that will eliminate opportunity gaps and structural barriers, directly increasing economic security for women and girls in our region. We are committed to both pilot new methods of philanthropy and community engagement to drive greater philanthropic change, and to advocate for improved policies on behalf of women and girls.

Last year alone, through our research, advocacy and grantmaking initiatives, we reached more than 3,600 women, and helped them increase their incomes and assets by $3.6 million. We will continue this multifaceted approach, using a racial equity lens to build pathways out of poverty for more women and their families. Currently 15 percent of Black women and 15 percent of Latinas living in poverty compared to 5 percent of white, non-Hispanic women.

We will fearlessly tackle racial equity head on to close the economic gap experienced by women and girls of color in the region. With #our100days and the Young Women’s Initiative, we will get in the arena and use our voice, our resources and the community we have created to remove the barriers women and girls of color face.

Feeling inspired? If you’re ready to begin your own Be Fearless journey start by downloading our free Be Fearless Action Guide and Case Studies.

Biggest Trend in Social Good? Women in the Driver’s Seat!

I was recently asked to open up a dinner conversation with a room full of social innovators—a mix of foundations, entrepreneurs, impact investors and companies—by laying out what I saw as the top three trends in social good. These trends are important in that they inform our arenas for action and the clarion call we, at the Case Foundation, are making to all citizens to “Get in the Arena.” That night, I picked three distinct trends because I felt it opened up more conversation. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone with my original three: women, women and women. 

Trend 1: Women as Investors

You may recall an earlier blog I wrote about Trailblazing Women in Impact Investing where I talked about women emerging as a driving force behind the growth of the Impact Investing industry. From founding firms focused on impact investors, to creating tools and products to catalyze capital, to leading nonprofits and foundations focused on educating and activating a host of actors, women are spearheading and populating this sector more so than any other financial services sector.

A recent Calvert Investments report asserts that women, along with younger investors, will indeed drive the growth of the broader responsible investment industry. In a study of affluent women, 95 percent ranked “helping others” and 90 percent ranked “environmental responsibility” as important. And beyond driving the growth of Impact Investing, woman may be our greatest hope to unlocking the kinds of game-changing innovations required to solve the most persistent problems. Turns out that women wealth holders exhibit more risk tolerance toward new and innovative solutions, once they have met the financial security needs of themselves and their families. As Sallie Krawcheck wrote in her thought-provoking piece, women investors exhibit a slightly different values-based perspective. More women want their investments to not just generate excellent returns, but also have a positive impact on the world they live in. And they’re willing to make some big bets to deliver on that perspective.

This data reinforces the importance of ensuring that women continue to be aware of the momentum in the Impact Investing space. Remember, their purchasing power and, therefore, their potential social impact power is enormous—women control 39 percent of investible assets in the U.S. today. That number will continue to rise; women currently control 51 percent, or $14 trillion, of personal wealth in the U.S. and are expected to control $22 trillion by 2020.

Trend 2: Women as Consumers

Women represent the largest market opportunity in the world. Globally, they control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending. In the next five years, it is expected that this number will rise to nearly $30 trillion. For context, that is more than the two largest growth markets typically identified—China and India—combined! In the U.S., women control somewhere between $5-15 trillion, with estimates that they will control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S. over the next 10 years.

Women handle the bulk of purchasing decisions for everyday items like groceries and clothing and are also heading up and/or highly influential in large ticket purchases like cars, homes and appliances. Here’s another kicker—they even purchase 50 percent of the products marketed to men!

Why is this a trend worth watching in social good? Because women often make purchasing decisions based on their personal and social values. The HBR piece on the “Female Economy” is a must-read on the role women will play as consumers, members of the workforce, productivity drivers and caregivers. On the women as consumers front, my favorite quote:

“Once companies wake up to the potential of the female economy, they will find a whole new range of commercial opportunities in women’s social concerns. Women seek to buy products and services from companies that do good for the world, especially for other women. Brands that—directly or indirectly—promote physical and emotional well-being, protect and preserve the environment, provide education and care for the needy, and encourage love and connection will benefit. And women are the customer. There’s no reason they should settle for products that ignore or fail to fully meet their needs, or that do so cynically or superficially. Women will increasingly resist being stereotyped, segmented only by age or income, lumped together into an “all women” characterization, or, worse, undifferentiated from men.”

Given the forthcoming wealth transfer predicted, many of these upwardly mobile consumers and asset owners are Millennial women. Millennial customers, employees and importantly—entrepreneurs—lead their lives and make choices with a more holistic worldview. They contribute to and support the things they believe in and they use their dollars to exercise those views and beliefs.

Trend 3: Women as Entrepreneurs

And perhaps the greatest trend of all to watch in terms of opportunity to drive social good is the rise of women in entrepreneurship.

American Express OPEN’s 2016 State of Women-Owned Business report is a must-read. The number of women owned firms and their economic contributions continue to rise at rates higher than the national average. As of 2016, this data shows 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues.

The report show that between 2007 and 2016:

  • The number of women-owned firms increased by 45 percent, compared to just a 9 percent increase among all businesses. That’s five times faster than the national average.
  • Their employment growth increased by 18 percent, compared to a 1 percent decline among all businesses.
  • Their business revenues increased by 35 percent, compared to 27 percent among all U.S. firms. That’s 30 percent higher than the national average.

And check out the growth of firms owned by women of color! Their numbers have more than doubled since 2007, increasing by 126 percent.

Now, let’s turn our attention to venture-backed companies in particular, given their potential for high growth. Less than 10 percent of venture-backed companies have female founders, despite the evidence that gender-diverse companies drive greater market returns and innovation; that VC portfolios show women-founded companies outperform those founded by men; and that funds declaring gender diversity an “investing factor” give higher returns with women at the leadership level.

I think we are going to see these dreadful statistics change over the next couple of years. Increased attention being paid to these numbers, including by our own #FacesofFounders campaign and others (UBS, Blackstone Foundation, Google for Entrepreneurs, Kapor Center, 500 Startups, JumpStart, to name just a few) will help. Why is this a social trend worth accelerating? To put this into perspective, according the Economist, if women entrepreneurs in the U.S. started with the same capital as men, they would add 6 million jobs to the economy in five years—2 million of those in the first year alone.

As we ring in 2017, with all of its uncertainties, I for one commit to getting in the arena of investing in women with intention. For one thing appears pretty certain—our economy, as well as our social fabric, depends on them.

#InnovationMadness: Who is Your Favorite Unsung Fearless Innovator?

Earlier this month, a thought-provoking video from Microsoft caught my eye. In the video, young girls are asked to name inventors. After quickly rattling off names like Nikola Tesla, Einstein and Edison, they are then asked to name female inventors. Sadly, this question is met with almost deafening silence. Each and every one of these future innovators is left stumped.

Which made me wonder, how many female innovators could I name?

One of the girls featured in the video provides brilliant insight when she says, “In school it was always a male inventor.” That definitely struck a chord with me. Thinking back to my own textbooks, it wasn’t hard to find examples of great inventors who used their grit or genius, or a combination of both, to change the world. My own science and history lessons were filled with stories of inventors and innovators commended and applauded for their ingenuity—it’s just that they happened to mostly all be men.

We know about Marie Curie and maybe a handful of other female trailblazers, but there are so many other women in arts, sports, science, technology, business and medicine who are not yet household names—not because they don’t exist but because they simply did not have the same recognition in their day, or the same spotlight and celebration of their contributions.

While we all could name Thomas Edison for instance, we probably don’t think of Margaret Knight, nicknamed “the lady Edison” and credited with receiving 27 patents in her lifetime for inventions including an internal combustion engine and shoe-manufacturing machines. Or take Beulah Louise Henry, also referred to as “Lady Edison” (notice a trend here?), who was awarded nearly 50 patents over her lifetime and had more than 100 inventions to her name including the can opener.

Women are responsible for an endless number of inventions and innovations that improve everyday life, from the car heater (Margaret A. Wilcox) to the fire escape (Anna Connelly), to the life raft (Maria Beasely) and medical syringe (Letitia Geer). It was Tabitha Babbitt who invented the circular saw, Sarah Mather, who made the underwater telescope possible, and Dr. Maria Telkes and Eleanor Raymond who built the first home entirely heated by solar power in 1947.

In the fields of science and discovery, the contributions of women have changed the world and our understanding of it. The work of Rachel Carson, a marine biologist who brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people in her book Silent Spring, led to the nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. Her work inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the EPA. Dr. Anne Tsukamoto, an inventor named on seven issued U.S. patents related to the human hematopoietic stem cell and gene transfer methods, today is credited with advancing the field of stem cell research.

As another Women’s History Month draws to an end, we owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to start changing the conversation about innovation and ensure that we are lifting up equally innovators who in years past may have been unsung, as well as those that emerge in our contemporary times.

Today, the Case Foundation team kicks off its first ever “Innovation Madness,” a clear nod to the NCAA’s basketball tournament, but also a way to celebrate women innovators that too often go unnoticed and unmentioned. Over the next ten days, we will profile fearless women who have transformed the world as we know it by modeling audaciousness and remarkable achievement across disciplines. Check out the instructions on how to participate in #InnovationMadness and vote for your favorite innovators on Twitter. While we have a serious goal of spotlighting extraordinary women so their stories are known, we also hope to have some fun along the way. I hope you’ll join us and help spread the word about the amazing accomplishments of some of these extraordinary women.

Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa: Expanding Women-led Businesses in Africa

Global Entrepreneurship Network is now accepting applications for Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa!

This year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi, Kenya put a spotlight on the rising stars of entrepreneurship and the burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa. The summit showed how the people and companies of Africa are ripe for real financial investment to grow their businesses, strengthen their communities and provide solutions for some of the world’s most pressing problems. The Case Foundation was honored to join GES and get a first hand look at the individuals, communities, policies and programs driving competitive and novel business ideas to scale. And we were particularly honored to pivot the main spotlight to shine on women entrepreneurs and the economic and business case for investing in their success.

Part of that spotlight includes a new partnership with the Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa (WVXA), a pilot launched at the Summit with Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), the Mara Foundation and U.S. Department of State, WVXA will provide four African women entrepreneurs the opportunity to scale their business through access to strong mentorship and capital networks in Nairobi. The program is designed to help established women-owned businesses expand beyond the borders of their own countries—gaining access to new regional markets, research and insights into best practices.

The entrepreneurs will be selected based on their company’s likelihood of successful regional expansion, the business’s growth stage, the uniqueness of the concept and their professional ambitions for their time in Nairobi. WVXA will be focused on drawing entrepreneurs who have established their businesses locally and are poised for cross-border expansion within East Africa.

We look forward to seeing the results of the first cohort of entrepreneurs and building upon the evidence base from our own work in driving more inclusive entrepreneurship – entrepreneurship that is more inclusive of under-represented groups, more inclusive of under-leveraged places and more inclusive of businesses that shoot for financial AND social impact returns. We are thrilled to see the belief in the power of entrepreneurship continue to thrive in every corner of the world, and look forward to seeing how WVXA unlocks the huge potential in the four women entrepreneurs selected to participate this year.

For more information or to apply to the WVXA program visit the Global Entrepreneurship Week website. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until October 23, 2015. Stay tuned for more updates as the application and selection process develop!

Rim-to-Rim to Beat Brain Cancer

This week, Ironwoman BethAnn Telford of TeamBT and endurance cyclist Maria Parker of 3000MilesToACure will cross the North Rim of the Grand Canyon together with a shared mission: to beat brain cancer. In one grueling day, they will race Rim-to-Rim: from the North Rim down to the canyon floor, across the canyon, then up to the South Rim over 21.1 miles with more than 10,000 feet of elevation change.

Telford is an Ironman World Champion triathlete, a serial marathoner and a 10-year brain cancer survivor who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for research and development of cures for the disease. As Telford wrote recently in her blog, the Rim-to-Rim journey is “a powerful metaphor for the race to end brain cancer. The canyon represents the valley of death of underfunded research.” Her Rim partner Parker is an accomplished ultra-marathon cyclist and was the winner of the 2013 Ride Across America, dedicating her victory in honor of her sister’s battle with brain cancer. She and her family founded 3000 Miles to a Cure—a charity dedicated to raising $1 million for brain cancer research.

Part of their journey includes the filming of “Crossing the Canyon”—a short documentary film about their passage and the organization. The film will extend their impact beyond the walls of the canyon, inspiring and giving hope to those battling brain cancer.

Proceeds raised from their journey will benefit Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2), a Case Foundation grantee and nonprofit organization that drives cutting-edge research and treatments for brain tumors. ABC2 was co-founded by Jean and Steve Case, and Stacey Case after Steve Case’s brother (and Stacey Case’s husband), Dan Case, succumbed to the disease after a fight with brain cancer.

Since its inception, ABC2 has awarded more than $20 million in brain tumor research funding to highly qualified investigators and physician-scientists from more than 40 research institutions. Brain cancer is the leading cause of tumor cancer deaths among children and young adults. There are more than 600,000 people in the U.S. today with a brain tumor diagnosis, and another 66,000 new diagnoses are expected this year. It is a uniquely challenging disease that is in need of strategic, focused research funding.

Together, Telford and Parker will cross the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, into the valley, and climb the other side as they bridge effective treatments for brain cancer. These two fearless agents of change are women whose impact will extend beyond the walls of the canyon, inspiring and giving hope to those battling brain cancer. Good luck to them both!  Follow their journey on Twitter at #CrossingtheCanyon.

Be Fearless Spotlight: Global Press Institute

This Spotlight is authored by guest writer Caitlin Kelly as part of a special blog series by the Case Foundation featuring Be Fearless stories from the field. Follow along with us as we meet people and learn about organizations that are taking risks, being bold and failing forward in their efforts to create transformative change in the social sector.

Global Press Institute (GPI) is an award-winning, high-impact social venture that uses journalism as a development tool to educate, employ and empower women in the developing world to produce professional news coverage. Using this innovative model, “we employ women journalists in places where opportunities for economic empowerment and literate leadership are very few,” says Cristi Hegranes, founder and executive director of GPI.

This bold organization is no stranger to making big bets and letting urgency conquer fear—and its reporters embrace those same characteristics. GPI now has a staff of 135 reporters, full-time and part-time, from underprivileged, underrepresented communities in 26 developing countries. This cohort of journalists includes members of the untouchable caste in Asia, former sex workers in Africa and indigenous women in Latin America. Many have no professional background in journalism and limited formal education when they join the program. Others possess formal education and work experience, but live in communities where unemployment and dynamic opportunities for women are extremely rare.

In GPI’s 2014 Annual Report, a Congo trainee, Merveille Kavira, revealed, “Before GPI, my job was that I took care of my elder sister’s children and in return she would buy soap for me… GPI will help me to be self-sufficient. I will be independent and I will no longer work taking care of someone’s children. I will be a powerful woman in my society. I will be empowered.”

All of the women use their unique perspectives to provide coverage of issues often overlooked by mainstream media and “disseminate the news they find both locally and globally through GPI’s networks and subscribers,” Hegranes says. Recent coverage by GPI reporters features topics such as: citizens’ right to access government information; human trafficking; and election violence. In some countries with little or no freedom of the press, “the ability to identify stories that no one else is talking about is fearless,” she explains.

It’s not a simple job; working as a female reporter in a developing nation, often within a culture that typically expects women to devote their energies primarily to marriage and motherhood. GPI offers women a daunting array of challenges and opportunities. “We ask our reporters to be fearless every day in bucking social norms and challenging cultural and family norms.”

To help the women navigate the challenges that come with the job, GPI’s in-country reporters all receive intensive training in safety and security. While interviewing their own countrymen and men “gives us extraordinary access” it also leaves them more vulnerable to attack. “It’s very difficult work. They’re not white people in SUVs with tons of equipment,” Hegranes says.

No matter where GPI hires its reporters—now in 26 developing nations and looking to expand in North Africa and the Middle East—there “are always safety concerns.” But that’s part of being fearless: giving women opportunities wherever they need it most, no matter what—not to mention bringing unbiased news of current events to those who need it most. Which might be why Hegranes says northern Nigeria, home to extremist Islamic group Boko Haram—known for targeting government offices, the United Nations, and civilians—“is our next big target spot for Africa.”

Despite the dangers associated with the job, GPI’s retention rate is an impressive 90 percent after nine years. As reporters grow their skills, they often rise within GPI’s ranks to become managers and editors. “Our biggest problem [right now] is being overwhelmed by applicants,” explains Hegranes. “In November 2014, we had four training spots available in the Congo and we received 309 applications.”

GPI, focused on training women to be journalist, is part of a larger global news organization; the Global Press Journal (GPJ) similarly employs training graduates to report. And the stories GPI and GPJ gathers are bought by a wide variety of clients, syndicated by the Global Press News Service to journalism giants like Al Jazeera, PRI and Reuters to curriculum developers, universities, corporations and governments. That revenue proved sufficiently valuable that, in a major shift organizationally, this year Hegranes is spinning off the news service as a for-profit business. “The non-profit income is so necessary to what we do, but it’s slow and it’s risk-averse. We need to be able to generate much more of our own revenue and it will allow us much more flexibility than using restricted funds that won’t allow us to buy a plane ticket or for cameras, for example.”

How does Hegranes and her team make everything work around the globe with a 24/7 news cycle? “In the developing world you have to be nimble, responsive and intuitive and foundations’ pace is just not how we operate. We’ve just got to jump!” she exclaims. She also relies on a seven-member board—“the best we’ve ever had”—as well as a full-time staff of seven, their largest ever. These dedicated individuals help to ensure the success of GPI and its reporters. Hegranes values their willingness to act quickly, unlike the “glacial” pace of large, more conservative groups. “The world changes every second. Who has time for that?”

Together, GPI and its cadre of women reporters have clearly made an impact, at both the policy and personal levels. GPI’s stories have changed laws in Nepal and Rwanda—and 80 percent of its reporters are now the major breadwinners in their family. The work of GPI and its reporters contributes to the development and empowerment of communities, brings greater transparency to countries and changes the way the world views their people and cultures.

Feeling inspired? If you’re ready to begin your own Be Fearless journey start by downloading our free Be Fearless Action Guide and Case Studies.

Breaking Down the Barriers for Women Entrepreneurs

This post was contributed by Aaron Coleman, intern at the Case Foundation.

When she was only 22 years old, U.S. Marine Ramona Pierson was hit by drunk driver. The accident put her into a coma for 18 months. When she awoke, she weighed 64 pounds was bald, blind and couldn’t move nor speak. Through her grit and determination, Pierson fought her way back–learning once again how to breathe, walk and talk. Her journey of learning how to live again inspired her to found the personal learning tech startup Declara. In only three years, Declara has grown to 65 employees, attracted $32.5 million in funding and even impressed the President of the United States.

Pierson’s story runs against many of the implicit biases women entrepreneurs face. “They are unambitious, they are afraid of risk, they bring in less returns.”  These are words we hear echoing in conversations around the world and they reflect an implicit bias against women as entrepreneurs—who in reality are just as ambitious, eager and creative as their male counterparts. As the recent Kauffman Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Policy Digest report succinctly states, “research shows that women make great entrepreneurs.” The Kauffman Foundation’s report follows both the disparities and the opportunities surrounding women entrepreneurs, concluding, that while they “remain underrepresented among the ranks of entrepreneurs” the facts show that “women entrepreneurs are key to accelerating growth.”

Here at the Case Foundation we too believe in the power and potential of women in business, and are committed to leveling the playing field for underrepresented communities. We are inspired by Pierson’s story and the prospect of so many more like her. To help organizations get involved with supporting women entrepreneurs, we have included Kauffman’s top five policy recommendations below.


Top Five Policy Recommendations to Support Women Entrepreneurs

  1. Develop and Report Metrics for Entrepreneurship Programs and Initiatives: To understand how entrepreneurship programming serves women, attendance, participation, drop off rates and entrepreneurial outcomes should be collected and reported by gender. Armed with this information, program coordinators and funders can make adjustments to better assist women entrepreneurs.
  1. Increase the Number of Women Represented in Entrepreneurship Programs: When women are leaders at organizations that support entrepreneurs, they can help develop gender inclusive events that attract women entrepreneurs, as well as use their networks to help women entrepreneurs access mentors and financial capital. And in order to level the playing field for women, they need to be included and have equal representation in successful on-ramps for entrepreneurs.
  1. Increase Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Funding to Women-owned Businesses: In 2012, only 15 percent of SBIR awards went to women-owned businesses. Federal agencies should continue to increase awareness of the availability of these awards by partnering with women’s professional organizations and unifying outreach efforts to women entrepreneurs.
  1. Celebrate Successful Women Entrepreneurs: Stories of entrepreneurial success tend to be male-dominated. Government leaders can help deconstruct the false narrative that only men are successful entrepreneurs by lifting up stories of successful women entrepreneurs.
  1. Decrease the Risk of Becoming an Entrepreneur: Explore how various policies can help alleviate pressures and risks facing women, particularly those with young families, that can deter them from entrepreneurial ventures. For example, policymakers should examine whether subsidized child care or preschool could create a stronger environment for entrepreneurship.


Want to learn more about how to support women entrepreneurs? Read the Kauffman Foundation study in its entirety and join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #Ent4All.