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(Jesper Elgaard)
(Jesper Elgaard)

Small Business Briefing

Report says women are U.S. economy's 'secret weapon' Add to ...

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A new report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation states that American women who start growth companies that serve global markets may be "the secret weapon" for achieving sustained economic growth. Its research shows that high-growth startups are the most fruitful source of new U.S. jobs. Despite the fact that about 46 per cent of the U.S. work force, and more than 50 per cent of college students, are female, and that women have climbed to top positions in corporate and university hierarchies, they represent only about 35 per cent of startup business owners.

Their firms, the report adds, also tend to experience less growth and prosperity than companies started by men. "There are plenty of highly qualified women in science and technology – industries from which the majority of high-growth companies are born," says Lesa Mitchell, Kauffman Foundation vice-president of advancing innovation. "More women are entering these fields than ever before. However, while women have broken through the glass ceiling, they seem to encounter ‘glass walls' that keep them from venturing out of big companies or structured academic settings to launch their own firms at the same rate men do."

Other studies show that women might be more inclined to seek work/life balance and shy away from establishing innovative firms that aim for global scale. On average, they also have greater difficulty raising investment capital than men do.

Ms. Mitchell says these gaps do not represent innate gender differences. They are subject to change and already may be changing. "Women's entrepreneurship is an economic issue," she explains. "... As more women engage as entrepreneurs to build on their discoveries, new jobs and economic prosperity will follow."

She recommends three steps to boost female entrepreneurship:

  • Not-for-profit initiatives that advance opportunities for high-growth women entrepreneurs need greater funding and support from women executives, philanthropy leaders and industry.
  • Successful female entrepreneurs and inventors should make themselves visible and available. Role models are critical.
  • Women must be invited at a much higher rate to join science advisory boards of high-tech companies.


Innovation foundation gets great ROI

The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) on Thursday said it has received an investment return of $9.25 million from the sale of its stake in Radian6 Technologies. NBIF exited the Fredericton-based social-media monitoring company in May, 2011 after its acquisition by Salesforce.com. “It’s amazing how New Brunswick is becoming a hotspot for startup companies like Radian6, and the word is finally getting out that companies can get the capital they need to get started and grow into a global business here,” says NBIF Chair Robert Hatheway, “since most of the investors were from New Brunswick, the province has experienced a substantial infusion of new capital that’s ripe for investing.” As a non-profit corporation, all of the investment return will be used to further the foundation’s mandate through by replenishing its Venture Capital Fund.

The last little video store in Texas (er, New Westminster)

With the demise of Blockbuster, Joey's Video Stop is the last dedicated, bricks-and-mortar movie rental shop in New Westminster, B.C., according to a story in The Vancouver Sun. Owner Joey Le says Blockbuster put too much emphasis on new releases while its older collection was lacking. Mr. Le and his staff of two try to keep the shelves stocked with major studio fare but also with independent, Canadian and lower-budget movies. Older DVD rentals, he told the paper, make up the biggest part of his business. He also continues to stock a wide selection of VHS tapes, which he argues is a bit like saving an endangered species or, in this case, endangered works of film.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Nova Scotia draws clean tech

The Nova Scotia CleanTech Open kicked off this week, an international competition designed to find and fund high-potential, early-stage clean technology companies. The winner will receives $100,000, a $200,000 negotiable seed investment, mentoring, and in-kind business building services, including one-year free rent of turnkey space at the Innovacorp Enterprise Centre in Halifax. The company is to be incorporated in Nova Scotia, with the intent to build the business there. Entrepreneurs have until Dec. 1, at 5 p.m., to submit their entries. The judging panel will select a short list that will move on to round two. The short list will be announced on Dec. 15, and the winner in April, 2012.

Women's Entrepreneur Network announces next event

After holding successful events in Rio de Janeiro in June, 2011, and an inaugural conference in Shanghai in June, 2010, the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) has announced it will host its 2012 conference in Delhi from June 17 to 19. ForbesWoman president and editor Moira Forbes will emcee, and hosts include Karen Quintos, Dell's chief marketing officer, and Steve Felice, president of Dell's consumer division for small and medium business. The event is designed to connect female founders, CEOs and leaders of high-growth businesses in the world’s top markets to share best practices and challenges, and to celebrate the impact women-owned businesses have on the global economy. Sign up for the newsletter list to receive updates.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Looking to expand globally? Check out Vietnam

The vice-president of Hanoi’s Canadian Chamber of Commerce says “a lot of people underestimate or are not aware of the potential of the Vietnam market.” Like much of Southeast Asia, the country is often overshadowed by the buzz about China and India. But as Alexandre Legendre points out, Vietnam offers lots of opportunity for savvy and adventurous entrepreneurs. “Despite what is going on in first-world countries, Vietnam (GDP) is still growing 5 per cent to 6 per cent a year and that means there are opportunities.”

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Financing gap between men and women

Being able to secure financing is critical to any business, whether it’s a startup seeking venture capital or a mid-sized firm that needs more cash to grow. But while it has become easier in recent years for businesses to borrow money, there still appears to be a gap when it comes to finding financing between female and male entrepreneurs, as Marjo Johne discovered in a story from March, 2011.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at yourbusiness@globeandmail.com

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