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Funding, a challenge in US too

| Updated on: Nov 27, 2017

Even as Ivanka Trump, daughter of and adviser to US President Donald Trump, kicks off the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) today with the theme “Women first, prosperity for all”, women entrepreneurs in the US itself are find the going tough.

This year’s host country for GES is India (Hyderabad) and the three-day event starting today, November 28, will talk about women entrepreneurs globally and discuss the issues and challenges the women go through while starting up. The summit is being organised in partnership with the Indian government and will witness the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi alongside Ivanka Trump, who also is an entreprenuer and runs a clothing line under the same name in the US.

BusinessLine spoke to several women-run startups, incubators, and small investors in and around Washington DC and Sillicon Valley (San Francisco) and learnt that the challenges for women in the world’s largest economy is no less. Most of the women stressed that the US has to learn a lot from developing nations like India and many African nations on how to develop an ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.

Founder and CEO, Ari Horie of Silicon Valley based Women’s Startup Lab, an incubator and accelerator for women entreprenuers, said that the topmost challenge that women in the US face while starting their own business is funding. “Sillicon Valley does talk about women but they shy away from investing in them,” Horie said adding that out of 40 per cent of the women tech entreprenuers only 6 per cent get a VC funding and that too with a male as a co-founder.

She further added that since the Venture Capital and Private Equity world is dominated by men, women find it difficult to raise funds even if they are good at technology or have developed a tech-product. In a bid to tackle that, Horie is looking to set up a fund soon.

While, there are no specific data available for women entreprenuers, a recent study by the National Sample Survey Organisation found that only 14 per cent of Indian business establishments are run by women. Many investment firms such as Kalaari Capital, SAHA, TiE, Kae Capital among a dozen others are run by women.

The Indian government, led by Prime Minister, Modi has also placed some emphasis on women entrepreneurs such as a launch of Stand-up India scheme which provides loans from ₹10 lakh ($15,500) to ₹1 crore to women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SC/ST). There are also special schemes for women techprenuers.

Ika Aliveya, Founder and CEO of Femigrants, an organisation, helping immigrant women in the US to start up businesses, said that sexual harassment, causal sexism besides funding were the biggest challenges in the US. Aliveya, an Ukrainian immigrant herself, runs this organisation while working at Instagram.

Another entrepreneur and author Beate Chelette, who sold off her creative company Beate Works to Bill Gates,quoting a report said that the 54 per cent of women opt out of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Medicine) workforce after being subjected to hostility from their male peers or other reasons such as motherhood and marriage.

“We are helping such women to come back into the workforce and ensure that they are treated at par with the male workers,” said Chelette, who runs an organisation called Women’s Code, that mentors women to become successful entreprenuers building unicorns. Chelette also added that 85 per cent women-run start-ups have revenues amounting to less than a million dollar. There is, however, no comparativ study for other countries in this regard.

Margot Dorfman, CEO of US Women Chamber of Commerce, said while saying that she had no idea about the GES, said that while women in US own 30 percent of the business, only 2 percent of them receive federal government contracts and that the organisation is fighting in this regard but is little hopeful from the Trump government.

Published on January 09, 2018

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