How women are breaking the glass ceiling

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July 29, 2019 4:35 AM

San Francisco Bay Area tops the charts for supporting women entrepreneurs with access to capital, technology and talent. Bengaluru and Delhi too find place in Dell Technologies’ top 50 global Women Entrepreneur Cities Index

women, women entrepreneurs, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Oracle co-CEO, Safra Catz, Dell Technologies, DWEN, When we invest in women, we invest in the future; communities prosper, economies thrive and the next generation leads with purpose. — Karen Quintos, executive vice-president & chief customer officer, Dell

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz or Sheryl Sandberg, COO at social networking giant Facebook—they may be some of the most powerful women in the world of technology, immensely driven by their grit, determination and hard-work, but the fact is there are just a handful of powerful women at the top. Despite the encouraging growth in female participation and leadership in the business world, the road ahead for women entrepreneurs is fraught with challenges. Access to capital is still the biggest challenge that women entrepreneurs face, while cultural norms and their policy implications put serious binds on female entrepreneurs. Also, talent, both in terms of the entrepreneurs’ own talent, including education and experience, and access to skilled staff are seen as major factors that shape their path to success.

A recent study undertaken by Dell Technologies on how some of the top 50 cities (globally) score on supporting women entrepreneurs during the time period 2017-2019, brings to the fore some interesting insights. The US technology firm’s Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index, announced at the 10th annual Dell Women Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) Summit in Singapore, ranked 50 cities on their ability to foster growth for women entrepreneurs, on five important characteristics, including access to: capital, technology, talent, culture and markets. This annual exercise is said to be the only global, gender-specific study that looks at a city’s ability to foster the growth of women-owned businesses.

Future is bright

Since 2017, all 50 cities improved on the majority of their indicators year-over-year, and the San Francisco Bay Area took over the No.1 rank from New York City for its progress in awarding more women entrepreneurs with capital and mentors. The Bay Area outranked New York, largely because the former is one of the best places for women to gain access to capital.

Mexico City had the greatest improvement, moving up to No. 29 this year from No. 45 in 2017. Bengaluru and Delhi have made the most improvement in the capital and culture barriers in the list of top 50 WE (Women Entrepreneurs) cities.

Rising power in India

Dell, as a part of its Women’s Entrepreneur Network, launched the first India chapter of DWEN in Bengaluru this month. Sheenam Ohrie, vice-president, Dell Digital and APJ CIO Leader, Dell Technologies, said, “India hosts the third largest startup hub in the world. It harbours a mere 9% of women startup founders. Despite the exponential growth in female participation and leadership in the business world, only one of the unicorns of India is co-founded by a woman.”

In 2018, about 25% of the total startups that were founded either had a solo woman as founder or more than one woman as co-founder. “India is seeing a steep increase in younger women wanting to create a niche as entrepreneurs and it’s time to give that a boost. DWEN as a platform will enable women entrepreneurs to learn from each other, take the benefit of the experience of being connected to women investors, and of being a support system for each other,” she says. “We are seeing women create niche solutions for a market need that is currently either not addressed or addressed very poorly. We have seen men focus on traditional solutions through start-ups and I believe we will see women rise to the front with different ideas and make them successful through their resilience and persistence,” signs off Ohrie.

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