Earlier this month, Forbes Tate Partners (FTP) was proud to launch its Women in Policy (WIP) Lunch Series, Power of the Purse: Women Entrepreneurs and Investment. FTP began its WIP platform in 2017 to connect and empower women across all industries. Since then, it has worked to develop an engaged, tenured community of women. In 2019, the WIP platform expanded its events series to include a lunch program to discuss a range of today’s most pertinent issues from entrepreneurship to health care. A natural place to start our program was to highlight female business owners and address the challenges often faced by women across industries.
Over the past decade, women have experienced significant gains in global enterprise – continuing to break barriers, champion women-centric legislation, hold top political offices, and lead major corporations. However, the number of women-owned businesses has grown by only 58 percent between 2007 and 2018, just 12 percent growth in business overall.
Joining us for a dynamic panel discussion on fashion, finance, and everything in between were Catherine Cassidy, Founder of Boutique Box, Fiona Lewis, Founder of The District Fishwife, and Kimberly Wattrick, Founder of Summit to Soul. All three panelists are local entrepreneurs, with Cassidy leading trends in professional women’s wear, Wattrick in athleisure, and Lewis as DC’s first woman fishmonger.
During the panel, the women discussed the persistent challenges faced by female innovators and what can be done to ensure female businesses receive an equal piece of the economic pie. The first challenge addressed by the panel, and one that is often a determining factor in the visibility and growth of women-owned businesses, is capital. As women entrepreneurs are all too familiar, the private-equity and venture-capital industries have trillions of dollars in assets. However, only seven percent of capital is invested in female-led businesses. As investors’ gender bias is nothing new to the world of female-startups, the room considered steps to close the venture capital gap, secure angel investors, and increase investment opportunities for woman overall.
In addition, the women tackled equal pay and the importance of women’s economic freedom to the success of their professional lives. Our panel discussed salary negotiations, breaking into traditionally male dominated industries, and the importance of female mentors in climbing the leadership ladder. If women were empowered by money, they would have more of it, and the country’s cultural and political life would shift accordingly.
Forbes Tate Partners was grateful to host a group of incredible women for such a dynamic and thoughtful discussion. It was inspiring to hear so many success stories and discuss how we can shift the incentives, structure, and culture of global enterprise to push women forward. Part of the WIP mission is to provide opportunities and resources to help women overcome barriers to success, and we look forward to our next event this fall.
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