Networking: the key for women entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs who are part of a business community are twice as likely to grow

LatinAmerican Post | Sofía Carreño

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Leer en español: Networking: la clave para las mujeres emprendedoras

This year on International Women's Day, Facebook announced the launch of a new tool that will allow women entrepreneurs to connect with each other and share questions, advice, resources, and support to grow their businesses.

The Community Finder tool was launched under the #SheMeansBusiness program that Facebook established in 2016 to support companies created by women.

This is because, according to Facebook, "forty percent of the active groups on Facebook were created by women, women created 70 percent of all fundraisers on the platform and 43 percent of the pages are the property of women."

A new study conducted by the social network revealed that women entrepreneurs who are part of a business community are twice as likely to grow compared to those who do not belong to these communities. Because of this, Facebook, in addition to providing training to more than 10,000 women through its #SheMeansBusiness program, partnered with AllBright, a British club exclusively for women.

Read also: Are you a female entrepreneur? You may be earning less than males

The purpose of this partnership is to launch a ten-week course to give thousands of British women the tools they need to grow their businesses. This course will be free and will be available online for women across the country. It will also count on the support of important businesswomen such as Thomasina Miers, winner of Masterchef, and Karen Blackett, president of MediaCom. Likewise, three women who complete the course may be selected for an individual counseling session with the experts.

Education and communities to face prejudice

In response to the study conducted by Facebook, Forbes warns that, with respect to women, "Being part of a network can increase your confidence, give you inspiration, support, and advice. It is important to highlight that it can provide you with vital commercial exposure and access to financing." They also point out the importance of networking, since social networks are used more frequently to connect and collaborate.

The different entrepreneurship groups usually have Instagram and Twitter accounts where information about events and workshops is shared. Forbes also states that "members use the Facebook and WhatsApp groups to connect, give advice and help create profiles by sharing links to members' websites and social media accounts. By joining these networks, new companies gain access to some of the companies run by more inspiring women."

The magazine also warns that a study by Harvard University discovered the existence of a tendency among investors to inadvertently favor male entrepreneurs over female entrepreneurs and a male tendency to invest in male-led companies, a concern as the study also established that only 7% of the partners in the 100 most important investment companies in the world are women.

Faced with these results, the magazine assures that "advising new companies led by women on how to present proposals to investors and how to find potential investors could help close the gender gap in investment financing. This is where business networks can be useful. For example, Blooming Founders organizes investment-related events and recently held a workshop in which they taught women how to find the right investor for their company and how to prepare for their first investor meeting."

For its part, Paula Haunit, founder of the company for the purchase of clothing Sheer Apparel online, says she has established strong relationships with related companies through women's networks, generating collaborations such as pop-ups, events, shared blogs, and promotions. She also affirms that these networks have been useful to get personnel quickly and efficiently.

The Latin American case

According to a study by the Babson and Wellesley universities, only 3% of the capital destined for entrepreneurship in the United States ends up in companies run by women and the situation is not very different in Latin America, according to Susana García-Robles, Head of Unit of Financial Operations and Gender Coordinator of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).

For this reason, FOMIN has created initiatives such as the WeXchange forum for women's entrepreneurship. Without a clutch, García-Robles says that "the key for women entrepreneurs is to have a good network of contacts." And that is why the next WeXchange forum that will be held on November 6 and 7 in Lima, Peru is intended to provide the opportunity for the different entrepreneurs to get in touch with investors and mentors, which, according to the Colombian website24, will be done through "training workshops, inspirational talks, mentoring sessions, a 'Pitch Competition', in the style of Shark Tank and much networking."

Translated from "Networking: la clave para las mujeres emprendedoras"

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