UP Global, the organization formed last year as a result of a partnership between Startup Weekend and the Startup America Partnership, announced on Tuesday that it is launching Startup Women, an initiative to support female entrepreneurs around the world, with the hope of launching 1,500 women-led startups by the end of this year. The initiative is backed by Google for Entrepreneurs' #40Forward campaign, a program aimed at pushing for the establishment of more female-led tech companies, as well as by The Blackstone Charitable Foundation.
“Startup Women aims to take on a more holistic stance that builds off of the momentum of [Startup Weekend] events, providing additional resources and opportunities that will span the entrepreneur’s journey,” said the group in a blog post published on Tuesday.
The Startup Women initiative will focus on encouraging female entrepreneurship around the world and supporting women entrepreneurs through UP Global's programs, which include Startup Weekend, Startup Digest, and NEXT. Aside from hoping to support the creation of 1,500 female-led startups, the initiative has a few other goals in mind. Among them, it wants to host 10 Startup Weekends (Women's Edition) in the US and five abroad dedicated solely for women entrepreneurs, reach 100,000 new women entrepreneurs through Startup Digest, create an advisory board for Startup Women efforts, and highlight the stories of female entrepreneurs through various media.
These are obviously some ambitious goals; although, they're goals that are terribly needed to be achieved. Despite the increasing availability of resources available to women entrepreneurs across the United States, there persists a disproportion between the number of men versus the number of women who get into entrepreneurship. Particularly within the tech startup scene, women continue to be underrepresented (despite the fact that female-led companies have a 35 percent higher return on investment, and, when backed by venture capital, bring in 12 percent higher revenue than male-led companies, according to the Kauffman Foundation). And the inequity only seems to get larger when we take a look at female entrepreneurship on a global scale.
Writing for The Economist in 2013 (this is really good – you should read it), Tory Burch put into words precisely the reasoning for why more efforts, like Startup Women, should be encouraging women to start their own businesses:
“Based on our experiences, women entrepreneurs see the world through a different lens and, in turn, do things differently (to my three brothers and three sons: not better, just differently)…Women business leaders inspire other women to pursue their dreams. They may also find it easier to balance work and family outside the traditional corporate world. In emerging markets, women reinvest 90% of their earnings in their families and communities—which means that investing in women is an investment in our collective future.”
She also cites that there are only seven countries in the world where the rate of women entrepreneurs equals that of men: Panama, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Nigeria, Mexico, and Uganda. Burch goes on to say that women entrepreneurs need three things: 1) access to capital, 2) support from mentors and advisers, and 3) entrepreneurial education/knowledge.
While certainly not the first initiative to encourage female entrepreneurship, UP Global's Startup Women aims to provide women with the three things that Burch mentioned, particularly with regards to support and knowledges bases. Whether it's able to create over 1,500 startups within the year is left to be seen, but truly any additional activity from women entrepreneurs is welcomed.