William's Blog

The Change Paradigm: Investing In Women Backed Ventures

In life we all have passions and pursuits that enliven us to push the mental and cognitive barriers of our intellects to unforeseen reaches. For as far back as my intellect can reach those passions have been brought to life by my avid desire to creatively collaborate with individuals who see the world differently than I. I have been fortunate enough to meet and now surround myself with those who seem to draw and drink from the same well of overflowing creativity.
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We create things, water them, watch them grow, and eventually enjoy the fruits of our labor. We are empowered, young, and reward one another's failures.
But, there is one aspect that seems to be noticeably absent in everything from the cultivation to the harvest. What is it you ask? It's lack a female entrepreneurs and it's my assumption that such a lacking ultimately stifles creativity. [url=http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2012/03/26/the-results-are-in-women-are-better-leaders/]Erika Anderson[/url], wrote in Forbes that [i]women build better teams; they're more liked and respected as managers; they tend to be able to combine intuitive and logical thinking more seamlessly; they're more aware of the implications of their own and others’ actions; and they think more accurately about the resources needed to accomplish a given outcome. [/i]The idea of a "boys club" mentality in business tends to bring a very short-sighted view and it one that needs to be done away with.
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Despite pronouncements that the workplace is rapidly becoming devoid of its male dominance, male entrepreneurs outnumbered women 3.5 to 1 between 1994 and 2010, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics ([url=http://www.fastcompany.com/3002241/practical-advice-female-entrepreneurs-who-stand-out-sea-dudes]Dishman 2012[/url]). But against those odds there is no denying that they are making waves. Between 1997 and 2007 the number of women owned businesses grew by 44%, twice as fast as men-owned firms, and they added roughly 500,000 jobs while other firms lost jobs.
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It has been shown that investments in entrepreneurship—particularly women entrepreneurship—can lead to long-term growth in developing countries, the type of change that affects economic development, and a collaborative effort that influences innovation and empowers citizens to contribute to their nation’s GDP ([url=http://www.forbes.com/sites/worldviews/2012/07/06/forget-foreign-aid-focus-on-foreign-entrepreneurship-for-women/]Isaac 2012[/url]).
Muhammad Yunus, in [url=http://www.amazon.com/Banker-Poor-Micro-Lending-Against-Poverty/dp/1586481983]Banker to The Poor[/url], writes about deciding to commit to having at least 50 percent of Grameen’s experimental project loans granted to women. What they found was that the more money they lent to women, the more they saw that credit given to women, brought about change faster than credit given to men.
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This weekend as I was preparing this post [url=http://ycombinator.com/]Y Combinator[/url] held its [url=http://startupschool.org/]Startup School[/url] conference at Stanford University and the [url=http://startupschool.org/speakers.html]speaker lineup[/url] was very impressive. But according to [url=http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4679005]J. Lees[/url] who was at the conference the turnout was overwhelming male dominated. Lees said "[i]I was one of the female attendees at Startup School and I was floored by the gender ratio - being in tech, I'm used to being a minority, but this was possibly the most extreme balance I've seen[/i]." Another individual took a positive spin on this and used this as an opportunity by saying "[i]Whatever the cause, this gender gap is ripe for disruption[/i]!" Disruption, refers to innovation that helps create a new market that eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market by displacing an earlier technology. By that measure they are well positioned to do just that.
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[url=http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224476]Richard Branson[/url] says that fixing the injustice of not having more women on corporate boards isn't just good for your team: it's good for business. [url=http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/03/a_study_in_leadership_women_do.html]A recent study[/url] found that women were better at taking initiative and driving for results which have long been thought of as particularly male strengths. They were seen to be better overall leaders than their male counterparts and the higher the level, the wider that gap tends to grow.
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So, how does entrepreneurship tie in with Givology? Our mission is to empower children and young adults by enlivening them to betterment, making them more informed, and equipping with the tools they need to not only succeed but thrive. How do we do this? We aid in funding literacy projects, curriculum development, emphasizing student participation, and instruction methods that utilize and build on an individual's' skill set.
What's most problematic is that girls in developing countries are usually the last ones to be educated, and in many cases, they grow up to be uneducated women. It is the lack of access and barriers that we aim to remove.
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So, what are these [url=http://www.unicef.org/teachers/girls_ed/BarrierstoGE.pdf]barriers[/url]? Direct costs of schooling (school fees - clothing and shoes - school books/supplies). Indirect costs of schooling (opportunity costs, child labor and work). Families cannot meet direct costs, so children do not enroll in school or they drop out.
Gender dimension: If a choice has to be made between sending a boy or a girl to school, the boy will usually be given precedence. Families cannot afford the loss of income or labor contribution of their children, so their children do not enroll or attend. Traditional division of labor often disadvantages girls (more likely to have to work in the home, care for siblings etc.).
Some [url=http://www.unicef.org/teachers/girls_ed/BarrierstoGE.pdf]strategies/interventions [/url]that could help in eliminating these barriers are: promoting advocacy for affordable education (including elimination and or subsidizing of school fees). Awareness-raising in importance of girls’ education (so parents will strive to send all, rather than some, of their children to school). Awareness-raising that child labor is bad for economic/ development, and also social mobilization/sensitization on the importance of girls’ education
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Schooling teaches us to discipline our minds and it encourage us to never stop learning. Have you ever noticed how children have this sense of awe about them, where the world seems so sharp, fresh, and new? That is something we should never grow out of even as adults. As we age we need to maintain that flowering and awe-inspiring sense of curiosity, enthusiasm, and participation. Stay open and never stop learning as learning is not a means to an end, its a life long endeavor. As givoloists we provide the fuel to lite the enlivening spark of empowerment but how does one keep that spark from withering? Here are five things to remember:
[i]Never stop learning.[/i]
[i]Stop letting others write you life script [/i]
[i]Conceptualize your long terms goals.[/i]
[i]Be bold and confident, its okay to improvise.[/i][i]
[/i][i]You never live the same day twice so, realize that every stage brings unique and wonderful experiences.[/i]
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, [i]"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." [/i]
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The scale of your contribution to Givology is immeasurable and no matter how little you can give in either time or by monetary sum, it will make all the difference in the world. Heres to disrupting the giving/philanthropy climate and closing the gender gap as it relates to education, innovation, creative collaboration, and technology. Cheers!

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