The National Women’s Business Council’s August 2017Public Meeting – the last Public Meeting for Fiscal Year 2017 — served as an opportunity to share with stakeholders the breadth and depth of the most aggressive research portfolio that the Council has undertaken to-date; to provide updates on NWBC research projects that were still in-progress, including: Hispanic women business enterprises, veteran women business ownership, necessity entrepreneurship, crowdfunding, and survey development; to announce the Council’s FY2018 research on the horizon; and to share our fourth quarter public engagement efforts.
Most importantly, the Council launched the NWBC Solutions Labs, a series of in-person roundtable discussions and events in select Council Member cities across the country to connect NWBC research findings to common sense policy solutions.
The Public Meeting webinar kicked off on August 9, 2017, at 2:30 PM ET by Executive Director Esther Morales who officially called the meeting to order. Council Chair Carla Harris welcomed participants, executed the official roll, and delivered opening remarks. Council Member Anne Shybunko Moore then began research updates, starting with the seven research papers and one ecosystem playbook that had already been released on NWBC’s website in Q1-Q3, and moving to NWBC’s Q4 releases.
On June 16, 2017, the NWBC published Millennial Women: The Future of Entrepreneurship in America, which examines publicly-available information to develop a profile of the millennial woman entrepreneur. This research shows that millennials pursue entrepreneurship at lower rates than previous generations did at comparable ages. The report also found that compared to their male counterparts, millennial women are less likely to be entrepreneurs. Specifically, 3.8 percent of millennial women are business owners while 5.0 percent of millennial men are business owners. The research also found that millennial women are more racially and ethnically diverse than entrepreneurial women of prior generations. NWBC plans to publish a second paper on this topic within the next year, looking more deeply at differences between prospective and current millennial women entrepreneurs; differences between millennial men and women entrepreneurs; motivating factors; and, specifically, student debt as a motivator and deterrent.
On July 12, 2017, the Council released Necessity as a Driver of Women’s Entrepreneurship, which explores and expands on necessity as a driver of women’s entrepreneurship in the United States. This study examines whether and how women turn to entrepreneurship to address potential market failures that limit their ability to attain or maintain economic self-sufficiency, or how women turn to entrepreneurship as an avenue to overcome flexibility bias and potential stigma in balancing work-life conflict assumed in traditional gendered roles and social norms. Through this work, NWBC proposes a new understanding of necessity entrepreneurship. In order to strengthen and extend this work, we are exploring this topic more deeply with case studies of women across the country. Stay tuned for the release of that work in the Fall.
As for new research on the horizon, Anne spoke about the Council’s new interagency agreement with the Library of Congress’s Federal Research Division to set a baseline for research on women business enterprise by doing a scan of all research completed to-date, spanning the period of time from 2010 – 2017, in the areas of access to capital, access to markets, entrepreneurial development, and economic impact.
Anne turned the mic over to Council Member and Chair of the Communications Committee, Kimberly Blackwell, who shared highlights on the Council’s communication activities including: NWBC’s participation in the SBIR/STTR National Conference, the Kauffman Foundation’s ESHIP Summit in Kansas City WBENC National Conference & Business Fair in Las Vegas, NV, and other local events within the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.
The Council also remained focused and engaged in the fourth quarter with stakeholders across the ecosystem, particularly its 3 main stakeholders: The White House, Congress, and the Small Business Administration. Council Member and Chair of the Engagement Committee, Rose Wang summarized this engagement.
In February, Chairperson Carla Harris and Executive Director Esther Morales met with staff from the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and the House Committee on Small Business to provide status updates on the Council’s research portfolio and request their input on which issues to focus on, in the future. Beginning in March, and extending through June, Council Members Rosie Privitera Biondo, Whitney Keyes, Anne Shybunko-Moore, Kari Warberg-Block, Executive Director Esther Morales, and I, held over twenty meetings and phone calls with Senators and Representatives on these committees and beyond, including policy officials who were interested in moving forward a strong women’s economic agenda. In March, the Council also welcomed over thirty leaders of the women’s entrepreneurship and business community to a meeting at SBA’s headquarters in Washington, DC.
In April, NWBC brought together over twenty managers of local incubators and accelerators representing a diversity of programs including those with a focus on women, under-represented populations, STEM, veterans, and social enterprises to discuss best practices and the persistent challenges of start-up needs. In May, the Council met with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, for the first time, to introduce her to the mission and work of the Council and to identify overlapping priorities.
In June, the Council participated in WIPP’s Coalition Partner meeting, where WIPP shared findings from its partnership with American University’s Kogod Tax Policy Center and Professor Caroline Bruckner’s tax report, titled, The Billion Dollar Blind Spot: Women Business Owners Miss Out on Key Tax Provisions Designed to Stimulate Small Business Growth.
NWBC Solutions Labs
Concurrently with the online Public Meeting, the Council was bi-coastal for the launch for the NWBC Solutions Labs, a targeted initiative of the Council to convene women entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial development organizations, corporate partners, in addition to local policy and thought leaders in Council Member cities, for action- oriented roundtable discussions to further explore findings of the Council’s research released in fiscal year 2017; and to develop policy solutions to meet the pressing needs of women business owners. During the August 2017 Public Meeting, the Council was joined by nearly 100 participants of the Solutions Labs in both Nashville, TN (home to Council Member Sherry Stewart Deutschmann) and Seattle, WA (home to Council Member Whitney Keyes, joined by Council Member Rose Wang).
In Nashville, participants tuned into the August 2017 Public Meeting, followed by their Solutions Lab, Engaging Nashville’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Support of Women Entrepreneurs” which explored the Nashville entrepreneurial ecosystem for women entrepreneurs. This Solutions Lab convened about 45 participants that delved into NWBC’s research report, “Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and their Service to Women Entrepreneurs” and Ecosystem Model, while engaging the collective Nashville ecosystem for women entrepreneurs. Participants heard from also heard from a distinguished panel, moderated by NWBC’s Director of Policy and Research, Annie Rorem, who led a conversation of Nashville ecosystem players and entrepreneurs who identified key hurdles for women entrepreneurs – including:
- Michael Brody-Waite, CEO, Nashville Entrepreneur Center and CEO & Co-Founder, InQuicker
- Stefanie Crowe, Co-Founder and General Partner, The JumpFund and Director of Wealth, Knowledge & Happiness, Stone Bridge Asset Management
- Shani Dowell, Founder, Possip
- Angela Crane Jones, Executive Director, Nashville Business Incubation Center
There were some common themes from the panel such as the existing avenues of collaboration that were distinct to Nashville – in forms of resource sharing and entrepreneurial development organizations working together. Michael Brody White even identified the city as, “Nashville is still an intimate community. We gather to progress, rather than fight against ourselves.”
Following the panel, participants broke into small groups of 7-10 for roundtable discussions to further explore the issues such as access to capital for women entrepreneurs, public awareness of government contracting opportunities, and diversity in the marketplace. Nashville’s Solutions Lab produced very fruitful discussions and incubated action-oriented ways to amplify the ecosystem for women in business. The Council looks forward to continued support and connectivity in the city.
In the Pacific Northwest, the Council had an early start also kicking off #Solutions4HerBiz in the city of Seattle, WA with Council Members Whitney Keys and Rose Wang. Ensuring Success for Millennial Women as Leaders and Entrepreneurs further explored the research from the NWBC report, “Millennial Women: The Future of Entrepreneurship in America,” while assembling 48 entrepreneurs and key stakeholders for pointed roundtable discussions on solutions to cultivate and sustain successful paths for entrepreneurship for millennial women. Council Member Whitney Keyes led a productive panel discussion on exploring the Seattle entrepreneurial ecosystem for millennial women with:
- Rose Wang, Council Member, National Women’s Business Council
- Moorea Seal, Founder, Moorea Seal
- Rozanne Garman, President, RHD Enterprises, Inc.
- Chaitra (Chai) Vedullapalli, Chief Management Officer, Meylah
- Julie Stoltman, Deputy Director, Northwest Center
The panel touched on various successes for the city such as the diversity of industry and the influx of talent to Seattle, in addition to the pertinent challenges strongly present in the city that affect women entrepreneurs – such as high costs of living and the movement of small businesses out of the city, in addition to the “rise of tech giants” that are not connected to the small business community. Despite the challenges, there is still promise for millennial women. Panelist Julie Stoltman added, “Millennials are the most diverse generation. There’s a real opportunity for groups like this to take a real intersectional focus. Millennials are the most socially conscious generation, so there’s a huge opportunity for social enterprise with this generation” – a point that resonated across the room. The Seattle Solutions Lab (like Nashville’s), also had the task to create action-oriented policy improvements for the Council to utilize in our work.
The launch of the NWBC Solutions Labs was an exciting opportunity to not only critically engage with women business owners in the Council Members’ home cities but to develop beneficial relationships between key players and the NWBC. Special thanks again to all of the speakers and participants who joined us for our August Public Meeting and Solutions Labs thus far. You can continue to join the conversation online with the hashtag, #Solutions4HerBiz. Stay tuned for a Solutions Lab in a city near you!
Author: Shannon Trudge, Program and Operations Manager at the National Women’s Business Council