The Power of Women-Fueled Impact Investing

What if every woman in America invested $1,000 in a woman-owned business? The financial - and societal - impact would be tremendous.

This simple – and brilliant – idea was proposed by Deborah Jackson, a former finance industry executive and the current Founder & CEO of Plum Alley, a crowdfunding platform for women entrepreneurs and creative artists.

Deborah writes,

"If women who want to make the world better for women and girls also invested in companies founded by women, we would achieve a number of important outcomes.  We would move the needle on funding for female founded start up companies that now receive less than 10 percent of all funding."

According to the Kaufmann Index on Entrepreneurial Activity, 41% of new business creation in 2013 was led by women entrepreneurs.  

Another study, Growing Under the Radar: An Exploration of the Achievements of Million-Dollar Women-Owned Firms, found that the number of women-owned businesses with $10 million or more in revenues, increased 57% between 2002 and 2012, a growth rate nearly 50% higher than all $10M+ businesses. 

The data tells a pretty clear story. Women-owned businesses represent a significant driver of our economy.  Yet, if less than 10% of available capital is going to support those efforts, they'll never reach their full potential.

This is why Deborah Jackson's idea makes such good sense.  Women supporting each other to achieve their goals, bypassing the traditional gatekeepers in finance, media or the arts, who don't ‘get' what they do or the potential of their ideas,  offers female entrepreneurs an immediate and practical path to success. 

This approach helps women, and it also helps society overall.

According to The 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express OPEN, in the six years since the beginning of the recession in 2007, private sector job growth in the United States has come from two main sources: large, publicly traded corporations ... and privately owned majority women-owned businesses.

If entrepreneurship and new business creation is the fuel that drives the recovery of our economy, imagine how the economy as a whole would be impacted if the “unsung heroines of the small business sector”, as that study termed it, received their fair share of the pie. 

What's more, we'd also contribute to the expansion of the marketplace of ideas in our society, and bring to fruition a more diverse group of products and services than we have today.   Because the kinds of businesses, products and services that women create often fill a gap or address an issue that only their unique vision and experience can perceive

Here at WHAT NOW WHAT NEXT the idea of women helping each other achieve their goals is at the core of our mission. Our site provides a platform for women banding together to figure out what's next in work and life. And the WNWN Marketplace offers women entrepreneurs a free platform to market their business or their expertise.

So, we're jazzed by Deborah's idea.  In the coming weeks we'll be sharing more about what we're doing and learning on the subject of impact investing.

But right now, we want to know what you think.  Not everyone may have $1000 to invest, but we each have something valuable to contribute that can support the growth of a women-owned business. It may be an in-kind donation of your professional skills, a contribution to a crowdfunding campaign, or simply time spent helping to publicize a company, product or service through your personal and professional network.

Join the Conversation

What are your ideas for how best to give a hand up to women entrepreneurs and artists?  

Tell us about the women-led companies, products, or services you know of that are making an impact. What kind of support do these businesses need? How might others best  invest money, time or other resources to support the growth of those ventures?