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Dec 24, 2014

More on Gender Diversity as a Plus for Social Enterprise

Last month I wrote a blog that emphasized the dynamic role businesswomen have played in social enterprise in the UK. In the midst of the holidays, I thought you would find it informative to read a few more items about the challenges — and benefits — of involving more women in start-ups and in investing in start-ups.  Think about how social enterprises may be the perfect place to supercharge more involvement by businesswomen!

For-profit social ventures DO make for good business. Just ask the founder of PhilanTech, Pipeline Fellowship’s first exit.   Dahna Goldstein launched PhilanTech with a $75,000 grant from New York University’s social venture fund and quickly built a strong user base.  Grants are a pretty slow way to start a new business.  Not surprisingly, she soon realized she needed a substantial infusion of cash. So in 2011, she turned to the Pipeline Fellowship.

Pipeline Fellowship is an angel investing boot camp started by Natalia “The Coach” Oberti Noguera.  “Oberti Noguera — who describes herself as a “feminist with a capital ‘F’ ” — founded Pipeline in 2011, but the roots of the movement go back to 2008. That was when she launched New York Women Social Entrepreneurs, a group for NYC-based entrepreneurs whose for-profit enterprises also offer solutions to societal issues.  The group started with just six members. By 2010, the group had grown to more than 1,200.  But even then, “we kept having the same conversation,” Oberti Noguera said. Raising money for a for-profit social venture is hard. The investors they pitched to often saw their businesses as too much like nonprofits to produce high returns….’Many of the men said to me: ‘Never say social responsibility and business in the same sentence.’”

“Oberti Noguera had an idea: Connect women who have a high net worth and value social ventures with the entrepreneurs who need investors to take their business to the next level.” 

See why we need more businesswomen in social enterprise?!

To get  social enterprises adequately funded, we also need to have more women leading investment funds.  “The Diana Project, a multi-university analysis of venture-capital investments in female entrepreneurs since 1999, showed as much when it released its data this fall: In 2013, businesses with women on the executive team got more than 15 percent of all venture capital investments — a modest improvement from the 5 percent they got in 1999.”  But the study also found “VC firms with female partners are twice as likely to invest in companies with a woman on the management team.”

So we need more businesswomen involved in, and investing in, social enterprise.  If you are a businesswoman,  talk to me about joining the Advisory Board of the Community Investment Network of Central Ohio! If you are a female entrepreneur, talk to me about joining the governing board of the Center for Social Enterprise Development.  If you are interested in start-up investing, talk to me about the CINCO Fund.  If you want to help social entrepreneurs, talk to me about mentoring emerging social enterprises.

Let’s make gender diversity a tool for economic development AND social impact in 2015!

Next week this blog will have important announcements of exciting offerings in 2015 by the Center for Social Enterprise Development.