Woman Entrepreneurs are our Best Growth Opportunity


This month Fast Company is highlighting women working to “changes the lives of girls and women everywhere, with their cover story, The League of Extraordinary WomenThe article echoes what ICA has known for some time: Investing in women is not just a gender equality issue, it is an economic opportunity for our society.

In 2011, the Kauffman foundation released a research paper [PDF] looking at women entrepreneurs and showed “room for improvement in women’s entrepreneurship, with vastly more room as one goes up the scale into building growth companies.” Despite making up more than 50 percent of college graduates and almost 50 percent of the US labor force, women account for only 35 percent of the people involved in starting a business in the US and hold just 16% of corporate board seats.  
Announcing the WEAmericas program in April, Secretary of State Clinton put it best: ”The most effective way to accelerate a nation’s economic productivity and prosperity is to enable women to participate.”

At ICA, 73% of our companies are women owned businesses. The women we work with are operating in fields from technology to education, to food and healthcare. More importantly, their companies are growing fast. Revolution Foods is a perfect example. Founded in 2006 by U.C. Berkeley alums Kristen Richmond and Kirsten Toby, the company was recently ranked by Fortune magazine and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City as the 2nd fastest growing inner city business in the country . They provide fresh, healthy meals in school districts across the country and currently employee 770 people.

As an organization that is home to so many talented women, we feel it is important to share their experiences with our audience. We recently spoke with a Ingrid Merriwether of Merriwether & Williams and Meredith Akers and Tanya Scott of Ed Support Services  about their experiences running a business. Here’s what they had to say:


Kristin Richmond, Kirsten Tobey, Ingrid Merriweather, Meredith Akers, & Tony Scott.

“When it comes to relating with the families we work with and within the educational field we’re often working a lot with women. I think it’s very beneficial to us. I think on the business side, for me as a business leader, I think it’s very challenging. We talk a lot about communication styles, and expectations, it’s something that we work at.” -Tanya, Ed Support Services

“I have personal responsibilities, it really doesn’t have anything to do with my gender, I can’t change the way people perceive me, or if they’re going to make generalizations about my gender, I certainly want to become a better, more direct communicator. When I have had male bosses, I never had the expectation that I would be going to his home, drinking wine, talking about gossip and maybe looking for some advice about my personal relationships. That boundary was just there for me. But, having female bosses who are friendly, and willing to be more open, that line is a little more blurry. It does work to our advantage; people need to trust us and feel comfortable with us, with the most intimate and challenging things in their lives. -Meredith, Ed Support Services

“Women are by nature multi-taskers. Conventional roles require that we managed a household and kids and all of that. You’re a natural multi-tasker and I think that transfers very well to managing a business. The problem is we don’t get to let go of that part at home when we come over to manage the business. Those responsibilities generally are still on our plate. Many of us, myself included, have great partners or spouses and they step up. But it’s not the same as taking control, and sometimes, to be honest with you, we as women don’t want to lose control.  -Ingrid Merriwether, Merriwether and Williams Insurance Services

“There is no question I think women’s approach is different in that we don’t really realize the attributes we have that could help our business succeed even more; if we were to do it intentionally. -Ingrid Merriwether, Merriwether and Williams Insurance Services

 

 





3 Responses to “Woman Entrepreneurs are our Best Growth Opportunity”

  1. As a woman starting up an online content publishing and tech media company at 46, I feel the strain and fear every day of the magnitude of responsibilities I have accepted and maintain every day. There is help and support for the home and average biz issues, but nearly no peer help to be found on the entrepreneurial and risk/financing aects of my life.

    I never was asked when I worked for men in politics or business if I could execute vision, but now that it is my own, suddenly my gender matters.

    The stakes are higher somehow, but I do know that I can handle it. It doesn’t change the anxiety, but I remain confident in my capabilities even in the face of that pressure.

  2. [...] 73% of the companies in ICA’s Portfolio are owned by women. We recognize that women entrepreneurs are our best growth opportunity, and we will continue to go the extra mile to serve [...]

  3. Remmie Male says:

    Women let us be workable mirrors to each other!

    I personally believe that women can invest in other women.

    There has been propaganda for generations that is out to discourage women to team up and work together for the better of their tomorrow. Let us re-new our mind-sets, together we can wipe out all the generational misconceptions about our gender and work together. Today’s young generation has the hope of our tomorrow. Let us saw the right seeds in their minds to germinate the right environment where women enjoy equal opportunity.

    We all need a mirror to have a clear image of who we are, our true potential and what we can make better! What kind of mirror are you to the women whose lives you have touched? Are you faulty? Do you magnify the image? Do you diminish the image? What would you want the mirror to show you about you? Why then don’t we help another by being an effective mirror to improve their lives?

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