Exactly one week ago, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, and the SBA District Office hosted a roundtable luncheon on women social entrepreneurs, a group that made up the majority of attendees.
The “Women Power Social Change” roundtable included presenters such as Andrea Chen, executive director of Propeller, Amanda Brown, executive director of NWBC, Michael W. Ricks, U.S. Small Business Administration District Director in Louisiana, and Meredith West, Policy Director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
“Given the growth in social enterprises, particularly for women entrepreneurs, we need to be strategizing on how to best support these businesses,” said Brown. “Investments are critical – in terms of access to capital and resources, and other opportunities. And there’s no better place to host this conversation than New Orleans – a city that has truly shown itself to be resilient and creative in the face of devastation.”
Participants ranged from social entrepreneurs to lenders and funders, and also members of the broader entrepreneurial community.
“New Orleans is home to so many business success stories,” said Brown. But there are still many challenges that face women entrepreneurs.
Janelle Alexander, Entrepreneur in Residence of PowerMoves.NOLA, said that custom acquisition was a major problem for her. Finding that first big or anchor customer is a key to success.
Another challenge that was brought up by Terri Dreyer, founder at NANO, LLC., was being a woman in traditionally male dominated fields. She wondered how to get through the front door. It was then echoed by Chen, who mentioned that social entrepreneurship in general is actually typically female dominated.
Chen recommended connecting with policy makers, individuals, decision makers and venues that can help social and other ventures run by women entrepreneurs succeed.
Also at the luncheon, West announced that Louisiana Senator David Vitter successfully passed the resolution to establish October 2015 as National Women’s Small Business Month.
There are nearly, if not already, 10 million women-owned small businesses in the United States. The new passing of the resolution honors the vital role of women small business owners and women entrepreneurs in the country, along with the significant contributors of these businesses and owners.