Business Leaders Are Banding Together to Improve Conditions for Women Entrepreneurs

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Photo: Thomas M. Barwick/Getty Images

In a week, the election will be over, and while the world will (hopefully) take a collective sigh come Wednesday morning, the new president is going to have her work cut out for her. An open letter published to Dell’s corporate blog this morning aims to put one important task on the new president’s to-do list: encouraging women to start businesses.

“You can’t argue with job creation,” Elizabeth Gore, the entrepreneur-in-residence at Dell, told the Cut over the phone. “We really tried to suggest policies that were bipartisan. You can take these suggestions and bring $30 billion dollars into the economy, no matter which candidate wins.” The open letter was signed by over 80 CEOs — from MasterCard to GIPHY to GrubHub — and it suggests three potential areas for the new president to focus on.

“We write to you today on behalf of our nation’s leading innovators, entrepreneurs and influencers regarding one of the largest untapped economic and social opportunities in our country — women entrepreneurs,” the letter begins. “If women and men participated equally in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the United States’ GDP could rise by $30 billion.”

“Definitely the biggest challenge women in business face is access to capital,” Gore explained. “It’s not just venture, it’s how women access loans, how they manage their own finances, how they take risks with money. It’s also payment. Women own the types of businesses that do a lot of sub-contracting. The 90-day payment windows are a big challenge.” The letter suggests, “working with innovators to create new sources of capital such as crowdfunding and impact investments.” To this point, Gore emphasized that the Obama administration was the first to use the word “crowdfunding” in policy. “There are new programs that focus on loans and grants to women and minority-owned companies. There have been a lot of great initiatives under Obama,” Gore said.

But the progress can’t stop there. The letter urges the new president to make broadband internet accessible to all, and to “streamline the process of registering businesses and applying for government resources.” As Gore explained, “There are two ways to think about change: there is policy and there is leadership. The power of the White House is not just to influence policy but to encourage others to be leaders of these opportunities.”

“Women are starting businesses twice as fast as men,” she added. “We have to keep setting up new programs to aid these women, and bolster the ones that are working.”