Access to capital remains one of the greatest barriers for women trying to launch, scale, and grow their businesses. As the government’s only independent voice on economic issues impacting women entrepreneurs, access to financial capital remains at the forefront of the NWBC’s agenda. That’s why this past March, in honor of Women’s History Month, the National Women’s Business Council hosted its second quarter public meeting in Fiscal Year 2018 on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, from 2:00pm ET to 3:30pm ET titled Accelerating Access to Capital: Crowdfunding as a Solution to Fund HER Business.
This public meeting kicked off with a featured keynote from Kathy McShane, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women’s Business Ownership at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership oversees the Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), a network of over 100 educational centers throughout the United States and its territories. The Women’s Business Centers, one of SBA’s resource partners, are designed to assist women, provide comprehensive training and counseling on a variety of topics needed to start and grow small businesses. As of 2017, the WBCs worked with over 150,000 women entrepreneurs and counseled over 1.4 million people. Over two million clients have also worked with WBCs since its birth in 1988, and those numbers continue to grow as the program expands even further. To learn about the latest news from the Office of Women’s Business Ownership please visit https://www.sba.gov/offices/headquarters/wbo. You can also find YOUR Women’s Business Center here: https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/wbc.
Following the keynote, Council Members Kim Blackwell and Deborah Rosado Shaw shared updates on NWBC’s communications, engagement, and research activities that took place during the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2018. There were quite the number of activities that took place, but here are some key updates you can check out:
- The Council’s new website is now a consolidated home for our research, data, annual reports, events, news, blogs, and the Grow Her Business resource platform. Please visit nwbc.gov to explore the new site.
- Given that data is one of the Council’s four pillars and a vital component of all of our research, the Council kicked off 2018 by hosting an important conversation on the U.S. Census Bureau’s changing approach to business data collection. You can read the Council’s public comment on the Census Bureau’s business data developments and its upcoming Annual Business Survey (ABS) here.
- Following that, in honor of Black History Month in February, the Council shared a piece on the significance of Black History Month & Black women entrepreneurs. Read our blog titled Deeply Rooted: The Significance of Black History Month & Black Women Entrepreneurs here.
- To kick off March, the Council released our research report titled Understanding the Landscape: Access to Capital for Women Entrepreneurs, which is the first of four reports released from the Council’s inter-agency agreement with the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. This report provides a holistic understanding of the literature conducted on women’s entrepreneurship and capital.
- In honor of Women’s History Month, the NWBC Council Members took the opportunity to share – in their own words – some valuable tips, insights and inspiration to what has enabled them to reach the levels of success they never thought possible. Take a listen to their Words of Wisdom.
- Just last week, on March 27, 2018, we released the second part of our crowdfunding research which included two individual case studies on the analysis of Kiva and Kickstarter data. You can download and read both reports here.
Our Associate Director of Policy and Research, Dolores Rowen, then presented an overview on the Council’s two reports on crowdfunding. Both of these reports shed light on lending and reward-based crowdfunding platforms for women entrepreneurs by attempting to determine the role of a women entrepreneur’s social network in promoting her success in crowdfunding and some of the other predictors of women entrepreneurs’ successes in crowdfunding as an avenue for accessing capital. Some of the most notable results (success factors) from both research reports include:
- The first 30 days of campaigns matter the most. On Kickstarter, as a fundraising campaign gets closer to its end, and especially after the first 30 days, the likelihood of success decreases substantially.
- Setting a realistic goal is essential. The funding goal should take into account a borrowers’ network size. On Kiva, for women with a smaller online network, greater success might be achieved by setting a goal less than $6,000.
- Your personal stories are powerful tools to reaching your funding goals. On Kiva, longer personal stories were associated with higher likelihood of success compared to other textual pitch categories.
- Network size matters, but how it is leveraged is more important. Both the number of Facebook shares and number of Facebook followers are predictors of success on Kickstarter, but the number of Facebook shares has notably larger effect in success rates.
If you’re interested in learning more about these findings, read and download both reports here.
After the foundation on crowdfunding was set, Council Member Jen Earle moderated a discussion on Crowdfunding as a Solution to Fund HER Business with representatives from Kiva and Kickstarter. Representing Kickstarter was Clarissa Redwine, Design and Technology Outreach Lead at Kickstarter, and representing Kiva was Lily Vail, Columbus Program Lead. During the discussion, both speakers shared ways women are using these sources to meet their business capital needs and spoke further on how NWBC’s research findings relate to their work and the broader impact of crowdfunding. Both guests also emphasized how women entrepreneurs are strongly utilizing their unique skillsets such as community building and storytelling to expand their networks and gauge deepened interest in their businesses – significantly contributing to rising success rates on their crowdfunding campaigns.
Finally, we ended our meeting by publicly acknowledging two beloved Council Members who will be rolling off the Council in March and April respectively – Dr. Marsha Firestone who represents the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and Deborah Rosado Shaw who is a small business owner. We thanked them both for their tremendous service to the Council in supporting women entrepreneurs.
As we concluded Women’s History Month with this Public Meeting, we invite you to join us in looking ahead and re-establishing a baseline understanding of current issues, opportunities, resources and gaps impacting women business owners – such as Access to Capital.
Don’t forget to download and read our latest research reports on Access to Capital at www.nwbc.gov. Additionally, you can also join the conversation online using the hashtag #Capital4HerBiz.
Author: Cristina Flores, Associate Director of Public Affairs for the National Women’s Business Council