Women are making waves politics, finance, and business. Hilary Clinton is running for President. Janet Yellen is Chair of the Federal Reserve System, Board of Governors. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, is targeting corporate maleficence on Wall Street. It should go without saying that in a world where women have increasing prominence in politics and business, it would be easier for them to secure startup financing.
But making that assumption would be a mistake. Despite the outliers mentioned above, female entrepreneurs still struggle to source funding.
It’s fortunate that leaders in the financial community are committed to fixing these inequities. William Ford, General Atlantic Chief Executive Officer, sits on the Board of Directors for Tory Burch. Her business profits from his guidance. Burch pays it forward through her Tory Burch Foundation, created to empower—and fund—women entrepreneurs.
Bias against women in business is not uncommon. It becomes more apparent as they blaze new trails in industry and finance. A 2014 report from Sen. Maria Cantwell’s (D WA) Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship revealed that only 4 percent of the total dollar value of all small business loans is awarded to women entrepreneurs.
The Cantwell report shared startling information for those fighting for equality in the business world. It went on to say that:
Women entrepreneurs still face challenges getting relevant business training and counseling. Although Women’s Business Centers are in nearly all fifty states and they successfully provide specialized business training and counseling to women business owners, these centers have not been reauthorized since the 1990s, and funding has remained flat for the same time period. The report proposes reauthorizing and funding the centers to provide adequate business training and counseling to women entrepreneurs, especially low-income women.
Faced with such obstacles, the prospect of launching a startup is more daunting. Fortunately there are some funding sources designed to support women’s startups. Here are some of those sources making a difference for women in business today:
A network of angel investors is waiting to support those women who are eligible for Astia’s program. An application to Astia’s Expert Sift program gives female entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their proposal directly to Astia’s group of angel investors.
Grants are open to fund programs that activate leadership qualities in girls and women. The current grant cycle supports non-profit programs that help women to find their voices, build inner strength, and pursue their dreams.
Access to capital, entrepreneurial education, and mentoring and networking opportunities are key components in the Tory Burch Foundation’s strategy for supporting women entrepreneurs.
There’s still a need for progress to be made on these issues, but venture capitalists and investors are beginning to push for changes that empower women entrepreneurs in all stages of the small business and startup community.