Recently, BNET blogger Mark Henricks wrote a post on “Why It’s Time to Stop Giving Women Entrepreneurs Special Help.” It’s not time to stop giving women entrepreneurs special help, but, it’s still a great discussion to have. Here is the response I crafted which I can’t post, because my account validation email has yet to arrive…
Here’s the punchline…
Support of women-owned businesses is not going to stop in the near future.
- #1) Let’s look at the half-empty part... It is not just the NUMBER of women-owned businesses(as accurately pointed out by Mark), it is the size that matters as well (as pointed out by Donna Fenn in the comments to Mark’s post). Women-owned businesses are still not as large as the businesses of our male counterparts. So, bottom line: There’s more work to be done. Why does anyone care, anyway? What’s so great about women entrepreneurs? This leads us to….
- #2) The half-full part – Women entrepreneurs globally are massive contributors to their countries’ GDP. In emerging markets, women entrepreneurs are specifically encouraged as an economic development strategy. What women do with the earnings from their businesses is markedly different than what men do. If I were the leader of a nation, I’m going to invest in what works and is creating growth. In the US, the rapid growth of women owned businesses has been a huge contributor to GDP – more so than sectors you’d THINK would be driving our GDP as pointed out by SBTV’s Susan Wilson Solovic in The Girl’s Guide to Building a Million Dollar Business. This economic growth “magic fairy dust” effect has been very well articulated in the sprawling and multi-year research from GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) out of Babson which is viewed – in the women’s leadership field – as one of the “supreme beings” of research along with other powerhouses like the Diana Project, the Center for Women’s Business Research, and Catalyst.
Look, gender stuff is always sensitive. I, too, had the “why are women different” view years ago when I was I worked for a male-dominated merger and acquisition firm, and also as a student at male-dominated Harvard Business School. I had no problem with men. Still don’t. So, when I started teaching Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at the George Washington University School of Business, let’s just say I had a bucket of cold water thrown on me when I learned about the gold-mine which is women entrepreneurs.
I had a bucket of cold water thrown on me when I learned about the gold-mine which is women entrepreneurs.
The evidence of women’s contributions is quite staggering. Yet, much of these great soundbytes get holed up in the halls of academia or at research conferences. So, as someone with one foot in the corporate/entrepreneurship world and one foot in women’s leadership/academia, I’m here to tell you that women’s entrepreneurship is one bus we want to get on. And, if we don’t, there’s no one to blame but ourselves if we’re left behind standing on the sidewalk, breathing fumes.
Women’s entrepreneurship is one bus we want to get on. And, if we don’t, there’s no one to blame but ourselves if we’re left behind standing on the sidewalk, breathing fumes.
Now, playing devil’s advocate, I completely understand the frustration that can occur when one group gets a lot of attention and support. That can seem unfair. Nevertheless, as long as women’s business keeps on giving…so will everyone else.
Parting Thought: Why hasn’t this research gotten out about women entrepreneurs and their value? While certain people may be frustrated by Mark’s piece, guess what? He’s putting a huge stake in the ground, getting behind an opinion, and pushing it out there. “80 million people drove safely today,” does not get headlines people. Women need to take it upon themselves, PUSH the information out there, inform and educate… and if folks don’t know about the value of women, then whose fault is that?
Clinton Global Initiative: Empowering Girls and Women