Improving the Ecosystem for Women Entrepreneurs Through Public Policy

Under representation of women in business today is a missed opportunity – not just from a moral standpoint but also from an economic one. Statistics show us that women represent the largest market opportunity, controlling $20 trillion in annual spending. Twelve trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality and it is a known fact that when women earn an income they reinvest 90 percent of that income back into their families and communities.

So why do most women entrepreneurs still lack access to the resources – capital, networks, talent and technology – needed to take their businesses to the next level?  Dell has been investing in research to better understand the obstacles women face in growing their business.

Our WE Cities research assess and compares 50 cities around the world on their ability to foster high-potential women entrepreneurs. Sydney ranked 11th out of 50 cities and does particularly well on policies that can help impact a supportive culture for women entrepreneurs, but ranked lower in the areas of access to technology, capital and markets. Adding to this research, at the annual Dell Women Entrepreneurship (DWEN) Summit in July, Dell released the WE Cities city blueprints, which spotlight public policy actions a city can take to improve the local ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.

We’re turning analysis into action by leveraging this research in local markets to improve the ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.  Since July, we have taken this research on the road, with events in Boston, Mexico City and Sao Paulo and earlier this week Sara Calder, Senior Manager, ANZ Consumer & Small Business at Dell and I hosted a Dell PolicyHack during the Spark Festival in Sydney.

The PolicyHack brought together entrepreneurs, policymakers and other stakeholders to hack policy solutions to some of the challenges of women entrepreneurs in Sydney and the event was a great success.  Working together on small teams, these entrepreneurs and policymakers had 75 minutes to develop a policy solution around the recommendations in the WE Cities Sydney blueprint.

The teams then had five minutes to pitch their public policy solution to a panel of judges which included: Ben Jackson, General Manager, ANZ Consumer and Small Business; Roz Gregory, Director, Customer Success and Digital Transformation APJ, Pivotal Labs; Susie Gemmell, Sydney School of Entrepreneurship; Wendy Simpson, entrepreneur and business leader; and myself.

It was a privilege to be a judge with these esteemed individuals and I was extremely impressed with each team and their recommendations. Determining a winner was not an easy task!

After much debate we made a tough decision and our winners were “The Capitalists,” a group comprising Jacqui Walshe, Mariam Modhammed and Andrew Asfaganov. They were tasked with thinking about how the public and private sector could promote better access to capital and their solution proposed an anonymised pitching process for venture capitalists that aimed to remove unconscious bias for women seeking funding. This process would be incentivised for businesses and work to prevent gender bias against female entrepreneurs. This team now has the commitment from Dell to work with Sydney policymakers to make this great solution a reality.

I am proud of Dell’s commitment to women and the ways we are investing in our own culture and our communities to advocate for women. The research continues to show that when you support women there are far-reaching benefits to our global community and the global economy so our team looks forward to continuing to work with policymakers to improve the ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.