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Empowering women entrepreneurs: IWD 2024

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2024, themed ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,’ let’s take a look at the world of entrepreneurship, where women are increasingly making their mark. Despite the challenges that often confront women in starting and growing their businesses, particularly in high-tech industries, there is a wave of new opportunities for women who want to become their own boss. 

This article explores some of the hurdles and promising developments for women entrepreneurs and offers some tips for women who are thinking about getting a business off the ground in 2024.

Lack of representation

Let’s dive right into one of the more persistent challenges women face when trying to start a business: a lack of representation. This barrier is even more pronounced for women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and those in countries where pursuing business ventures or leadership roles faces greater resistance. 

Imagine walking into a networking event or an investor meeting and finding yourself as the sole woman in a sea of white, male faces. This experience, a stark illustration of bias in the business world, is a frequent reality for many female entrepreneurs. It reminds us of the challenges women face in professional environments, where being the only woman can significantly hinder someone’s ability to effectively network and grow her businesses.

With women still finding themselves in the minority in many industries, especially in leadership roles, finding a mentor who understands their challenges, can be difficult for the same reasons. A lack of accessible and relatable mentorship can slow professional development and leave women to build businesses without much-needed guidance and support. However, as more women establish themselves in various business sectors, especially in science and technology, they will be able to become role models and mentors for the next generation.

Community-driven initiatives can further expand women’s access to these fields. Workshops and training programs tailored to the needs of women entrepreneurs, especially in STEM and tech fields, can close the knowledge and confidence gap. Furthermore, initiatives such as promoting equitable hiring practices, building supportive networks for women, and offering leadership development programs tailored to women can significantly change outdated perceptions.

women getting a piece of the funding pie

Funding challenges

In terms of resources, women often face skepticism about their commitment and capability to lead a business, and this issue shows up most starkly when it comes to funding. 

Studies show that women-led startups receive considerably less venture capital than those led by men, limiting their growth potential. According to Forbes, in the first 6 months of 2023, of all equity investment in the UK, only 3.5% went to women-owned businesses, and 11.4% went to businesses run by male-female partnerships. This means that the vast majority of funding went to companies run by men. And the World Economic Forum reports that in 2022, of all VC investment, women-run companies received only 2% of that funding. 

The Harvard Business Review points out that “venture capital is a man’s game” and notes that in the US, women receive even less than in the UK, accounting for under 3% of all VC investments in 2022. The publication argues that if VCs are “betting on somebody that looks like them,” then they’re unlikely to give money to women-run companies.

To combat the funding gap, there is a growing need for women-focused funding programs and policy changes in the venture capital industry. Business Insider lists five VC firms founded by women that make funds specifically for women-led startups, acknowledging the disparity in funding and taking active steps to address it. These initiatives not only provide the much-needed capital but also send a strong message about the value of diversity in entrepreneurship.

Non-VC companies can also do their part to foster women entrepreneurs. Take, for instance, initiatives like “Powered by Namecheap.” This program exemplifies how companies can support women in launching their own businesses. By providing essential resources such as domains, hosting, and other digital tools, these initiatives help women build and maintain their digital spaces efficiently.

Family commitments remain a barrier

Picture a driven woman entrepreneur at the helm of a promising startup. She’s a visionary, ready to steer her business to new heights. But then she’s stuck facing the prohibitive cost of quality childcare. This isn’t just a personal issue; it’s a business one. Every dollar she diverts to childcare is a dollar less in her business, impacting its growth and her ability to compete in the market.

Many women entrepreneurs around the world constantly juggle the demands of their business with family responsibilities. This juggling act isn’t just exhausting; it can lead to decreased focus and productivity, hampering both business success and personal well-being.

But there are solutions to this issue. When local governments and communities invest in comprehensive childcare solutions, it goes beyond easing an individual’s burden — they’re leveling the playing field for everyone. Childcare cooperatives, expanded afterschool programs, and flexible childcare credits are all ways to help everyone in the business world and represent investments in our communities. 

By enabling women entrepreneurs to fully dedicate themselves to their businesses without sacrificing family well-being, we’re fostering a more dynamic, equitable, and innovative business world.

Professional chicken also having to be a homemaker

Obstacles within high-tech and STEM fields

In the world of high-tech, women face additional challenges that are deeply rooted in gender biases. Girls who choose STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields face a future that remains male-dominated, an issue underscored by the United Nations

Imagine a young, talented woman with a passion for coding, subtly nudged towards more ‘traditional’ roles for women. Such societal messages tend to shift career paths and aspirations, steering many capable and interested young women away from high-tech careers.

The scarcity of female role models in tech leadership positions amplifies this challenge. Without visible figures to inspire and guide, many women find themselves charting an uncertain course in these fields.

To break this cycle, a proactive approach is required. Acknowledging gender biases is just the start. It’s essential that people take steps to dismantle these stereotypes through educational reforms, gender sensitivity training, and inclusive policy changes. By championing diversity and creating a more inclusive environment, the high-tech industry can not only open doors for current and future generations of women but also benefit from the rich diversity of perspectives and ideas they bring.

As part of our commitment to promoting young women in tech and science fields, Namecheap is proud of Chinmayi Balusu, a previous Powered by Namecheap sponsorship winner.

Practical advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs

Here are some tips for those of you who may be starting out on your own entrepreneurial journey:

  • Leverage digital tools: Utilize digital platforms for networking, marketing, and operations. Programs like “Powered by Namecheap” can help you establish a robust online presence, which is crucial for today’s market. WordPress is an inexpensive and powerful tool for website building (you can check out our EasyWP blog for lots of helpful WordPress tips). And don’t forget social media, which is essential both for promotions and networking opportunities.
  • Seek mentorship and networking opportunities: Actively look for mentors and role models. Join women-focused business groups and online forums where you can receive guidance and support.
  • Develop strong financial skills: Understanding finance is key. Take advantage of online courses or workshops on budgeting, fundraising, and financial management.
  • Embrace education: Stay informed about your industry trends and advancements. Education through business workshops and conferences, subscriptions to industry newsletters and blogs, and other forms of continuing education can be vital in the rapidly evolving business world.
  • Prioritize work-life balance: Learn to balance professional goals with personal well-being. Effective time management and setting clear boundaries will take you far.
  • Utilize online resources. There are a ton of websites and YouTube videos out there on how to start a new business. In particular, check out Namecheap’s Guru Guides for more tips on how to start and grow a business.

A hopeful future

The journey of women entrepreneurs is full of both challenges and triumphs. The progress we see today suggests a future rich with possibilities, but there’s still a long way to go. 

At Namecheap, we believe Investing in women entrepreneurs is essential for building a more inclusive and forward-thinking society. Let’s continue to foster an environment where we celebrate women’s contributions to business and technology and where their successes drive progress for everyone.

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Jackie Dana avatar

Jackie Dana

Jackie has been writing since childhood. As the Namecheap blog’s content manager and regular contributor, she loves bringing helpful information about technology and business to our customers. In her free time, she enjoys drinking copious amounts of black tea, writing novels, and wrangling a gang of four-legged miscreants. More articles written by Jackie.

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