Amassing resources to boost female entrepreneurship

Dec 22, 2015


Diane Ramsey

Diane Ramsey is the Co-Founder & EPIC Corporate Challenge Co-Chair of Iowa Women Lead Change. IWLC transitioned from a grassroots-driven once-a-year event to a statewide 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to advance women’s leadership development and excellence.

Last week, a young woman approached me at a networking event. “I really want to start my own business,” she told me. “I have a business plan and have been re-working it for some time. But I don’t know where to go from here.”

I wish this were an isolated incident. It’s not. I encounter women each week who share similar stories: they have an entrepreneurial idea, they may have a business plan, and then they hit a roadblock – whether it is the lack of access to capital, the absence of a strong business mentor, or fear in taking a risk.

What do these roadblocks all have in common? They are preventable and reversible.

The statistics are well known:

  • Iowa ranks last in the United States for the number of women-owned businesses. This is a staggering figure because it is proven that successful women-owned businesses are key to a state’s – and nation’s – economic well being.
  • Women-owned businesses in the United States employ 7.5 million workers, resulting in an economic impact exceeding $3 trillion. That is certainly not chump change – and illustrates the importance of the success of female entrepreneurs.
  • Women reinvest 90 percent of their earnings in family and community, leading to stronger, healthier families, schools, and community organizations that support growth and development.

It is glaringly apparent that we all must be committed to growing women-owned businesses. In today’s economy, women-owned businesses are smaller and generate less revenue than their male counterparts’. Due to making less money, the businesses resultantly have a shorter life cycle.

All states are interested in driving economic growth, and Iowa is no different. Our citizens must unite to change the current climate for women-owned businesses and would-be female entrepreneurs. For this reason, Iowa Women Lead Change (IWLC), is amassing resources to make this sea change a reality. 

IWLC continues to support the mission and duties of Ascent Iowa, an organization founded several years ago to support female entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses. Together, our two organizations have sponsored Invest in She female “pitch” events in Eastern Iowa and Central Iowa, resulting in funding for more than 18 female entrepreneurs and businesses.

Together, IWLC and Ascent Iowa bring an understanding of the critical nature female entrepreneurs bring to the well being of our state’s economy, and we vow to make it a collective priority to:

  • Help women gain access to business capital and angel investment opportunities
  • Open the door for business mentorship
  • Educate political and business leaders about the necessity and importance of female entrepreneurism
  • Encourage women to participate on corporate and virtual boards to gain business experience, and
  • Engage current successful business entrepreneurs to provide expertise to fledgling women-owned businesses.

This five-point plan will undoubtedly pave the way for more fruitful female entrepreneurs in Iowa.

I hope you will join us on this journey – as an entrepreneur, investor or mentor!