At the 10th annual Dell Women Entrepreneur Network Summit in Singapore, Dell Technologies announced findings of the 2019 Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index, ranking 50 global cities on their ability to foster growth for women entrepreneurs.
In its 10th year now, Dell Women Entrepreneur Network (DWEN), is an ambitious initiative undertaken by Round Rock, Texas-based Dell Technologies, to accelerate the success of women-owned businesses by removing financial, cultural and political barriers. “We are on a quest to connect female entrepreneurs across the globe with networks, sources of capital, knowledge and technology, giving them the power to do more. Recently, we launched the first India chapter of DWEN in Bangalore as well,” Karen Quintos, executive vice-president and chief customer officer, Dell Technologies, tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview. Excerpts:
Why has Dell Technologies set its sights on women entrepreneurs?
For a couple of reasons. One, small and medium businesses are a very important market sector for Dell. When we started the DWEN programme in 2010, we were asking ourselves the question: “what can we do to help these really important customers?” We did a lot of research and discovered that women were opening businesses in some markets at twice the rate to that of men. We invited 50 of them to Beijing and asked them what are some of the unique challenges that a company such as Dell could help them with. And that was the start of the access to capital, access to network, and access to technology.
At the 10th annual Dell Women Entrepreneur Network Summit in Singapore, Dell Technologies announced findings of the 2019 Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index, ranking 50 global cities on their ability to foster growth for women entrepreneurs. All 50 cities made progress since 2017, however some cities took bigger strides than others. One of the major highlights of the survey: The San Francisco Bay Area out-ranked New York for the number one spot this year, largely in part because the Bay Area is one of the best places for women to gain access to capital.
How is DWEN unlocking the power of women entrepreneurship?
If you just go and talk to the DWEN attendees, you will come across women who really want to make a difference. DWEN has allowed them to have the confidence to continue to grow their business. Attending an event like this gives them a safe place where they can share their experiences and challenges and find other amazing women who have experienced the very same thing in their entrepreneurial journey.
What, according to you, are the key challenges faced by women entrepreneurs?
As per our recent WE Cities survey, lack of funding, high-cost of living, low representation of women in leadership roles, and the lack of government-led policies that support women entrepreneurs were some of the prominent barriers, globally. At a macro-level, the key challenges that women entrepreneurs face are access to capital, access to technology, access to networks. We have a very strong Dell financial services arm. We have done a dozen women funding women initiatives in individual markets where we bring investors and entrepreneurs together. We have been very successful in helping women entrepreneurs get access to capital. Then, we provide access to networks through events like DWEN, we also do events at a local level.
Recently Dell Technologies started the DWEN chapter in India, a region where gender divide and security are two big issues. How do you think DWEN can work in this area?
At Dell, our mission is to empower women across the globe by removing barriers to entrepreneurship, accelerating positive change that allows them to thrive. For our own women employees, we have undertaken a lot of measures to ensure their safety, with secure transportation, etc. With regard to our DWEN members, we can certainly help them with capital, technology and networking. For women entrepreneurs in India, I think that the whole spectrum of technology—digital, mobile, social media—is an incredible opportunity. They should take full advantage of social media. I think having a strong online presence is really important. Women entrepreneurs should think about technology as an enabler and we can certainly help them with that.