Annual Meeting Recap
Expanding Access to Capital
Sphere of Influencers
Upcoming DC Meeting
The Federal shutdown and daily conflicts continuously reinforce the divisions in our country and culture, which is why a positive message of common cause and economic possibility is needed more than ever. Women entrepreneurs embody this positive message of creative energy, opportunism and community building. Of course growing a business is hard work, but the rewards are real and translate into increased household and personal wealth. Let's be inspired by the millions - 12.3 million! - of bright, determined women and their successful enterprises that contribute trillions of dollars to our local economies.
This is why we are committed to the Invest in Women Entrepreneurs Initiative: we want to break down barriers that have kept women from growing their businesses. To accomplish this, however, we need to stretch outside of our normal silos to embrace new resources. We need to reflect on our own mindsets: what may be holding us back? What do we fear?
Many in our network have emphasized that this is the year of the Woman, thanks to the newly elected Congress members and an apparently heightened sense of women's economic and social power. Let's take advantage of this opportunity and find new champions for women's entrepreneurship, and we mean entrepreneurs all along the spectrum - from Etsy sellers in rural regions to million dollar Women's Business Enterprises.
ANNUAL MEETING RECAP
A dozen I-WE members joined together for an end-of-2018 review to discuss our annual report and set goals for 2019. Our group identified an interest in finding allies of women entrepreneurs among the fresh faces in Congress and the Senate. We recognized the need for more information and better metrics for examining women-owned businesses. And, we are building momentum in expanding capital access for existing and aspiring women entrepreneurs. Our targets for 2019 include:
Convening a small group of our supporters in DC to discuss strategy to develop champions in the Congress and Senate
Focusing on national survey of financing needs with WIPP: will want to publicize findings; identify and contact journalists with "women's beat"
Reaching out to major banks with women CEOs regarding survey findings and the finance products that women want
Participate in WBENC's big conference in June
Except from the SBA, we have been frustrated in our ability to get numbers on women and minorities from government agencies funding small business support and lending programs. Therefore, we secured the assistance of Kamala Harris’ office in getting this information. We will use this data to estimate the overall economic value obtained and frame a case for increasing investment in women.
Sample Survey outcomes on What Women Want to Finance Business Growth revealed need for lines of credit and purchase order financing between $250K and $500K. We plan to conduct another survey of WBEs in California to further strengthen the data and then approach lenders - both banks and CDFIs- that have expressed interest in reaching this market of the "missing middle" women business owners, i.e., too big for micro loans and not a good fit for bank loans. Thanks to Janice Greene, CEO of WBEC-Pacific, for collaborating on our sample survey.
EXPANDING ACCESS TO CAPITAL
Thanks to the advocacy of Faith Bautista and the National Diversity Coalition, Charter Communications will be investing $30 million over the next three years in CDFIs in order to make micro loans to under-served small businesses. Claudia and Faith met with Charter to advise on their planning and Carolina Martinez will be convening CDFIs in Southern CA with Charter to explore the next steps, since a good portion of this capital investment will be in California.
50% of CDFI small business loans in CA go to women, therefore this investment will result in a number of new loans to low and moderate income women entrepreneurs. Charter is to be commended for taking this innovative step by investing in our communities, and we are proud of Faith and Carolina for their stepping up to make it happen!
Deb Nelson from RSF Social Innovation Fund that operates the Women's Capital Collaborative is collaborating with us on strategies to market both their investment and donation opportunities to private wealth managers. Our common objective is to have wealth managers offer these opportunities to their women clients who seek more social impact from their portfolios. Small gatherings are being organized to introduce the RSF products to wealth managers and their clients. Stay tuned for progress reports!
SPHERE OF INFLUENCERS
Betsy Berkemer-Credaire, CEO of 20/20 Women on Boards has joined our Sphere of Influencers. 20/20 WOB seeks to achieve 20% women members on corporate boards by year 2020. She and her national affiliates provide training to women on how to prepare to seek corporate board appointments. Check out www.2020WOB.com if you feel called to participate in this groundbreaking movement. I-WE believes that all of our members have the chops to guide corporate boards, whose companies depend of women consumers.
UPCOMING DC MEETING
I-WE is preparing for meetings in Washington DC the week of March 11. Our members will advocate for capital access and gender data from government agencies serving women entrepreneurs, and will convene to explore how to increase our effectiveness on Capitol Hill.
Aspiring business owners in Oakland are getting a boost from the Runway Project, an organization that offers loans and mentorship to black entrepreneurs. The San Francisco Chronicle recently published an article about Runway's work, which has started small with 13 loans in the past year but has a 100% repayment rate and an enthusiastic, successful group of entrepreneurs it has supported. Claudia shared her insights and was included in the article: "The racial wealth disparity is a big gap. Providing that early-stage, more-patient capital meets an acute need. It’s a way to interject some balance in capitalism.”
The New York Times examined women entrepreneurs who are rejecting the traditional venture capital model, exploring the risky high-stakes game of venture capital and look towards slower, sustainable growth
The New York Times explored the changing face of power as women boast historic gains in political power and look towards growing it further: "From these women, the message is clear: Their strength comes from collaborative, generational efforts to move toward the good . . . powerful women seem more interested in their role in improving an evolving and complex ecosystem."
Grateful and Energized for 2019!