Did you know that November 19 is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day? In developed and developing nations alike, women are becoming increasingly active and important participants in local and global economies. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is an opportunity to celebrate how far women entrepreneurs have come and to help them access the networks, resources, and support they need to thrive. Read on to learn more about this unique global event.
What is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day?
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) is a global event and grassroots movement dedicated to celebrating, supporting, and empowering entrepreneurial women around the world. Begun in 2013, WED and the entirely volunteer-led organization behind it (WEDO, or the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization) aim to bolster a network of women leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs, and to help them create startups, drive economic expansion, and advance their communities. In addition, WED raises critical awareness about why it’s important for local and global economies alike to empower women in business. As part of this work, WEDO collaborates with business leaders, change makers, governments, and civil society organizations to develop education and policy changes geared toward supporting women entrepreneurs.
How did WED get started?
Despite being important economic participants, women are still not generally valued financially, either as consumers or as businesses owners, in the same way that men are. According to data cited on the WED website, women perform approximately 66% of the world’s work (both paid and unpaid), but they only receive 10% of the world’s income. Similarly, in the US today, 38% of new businesses are founded by women, but only 2% to 6% of these businesses receive venture capital funding. When it comes to financial support, women have proven themselves to be very responsible borrowers: microloans given to women (which are often used to educate their children and support their families) are repaid at a 97% rate of return.
These statistics made a profound impression on the founder and CEO of WEDO, social impact entrepreneur Wendy Diamond. Before launching WED, Diamond volunteered in Honduras through the Adelante Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting impoverished women by providing them with microcredit. Inspired by her experiences there, Diamond was determined to take action to empower women in business as a way of alleviating poverty. As a result, WED was born. Today, WED and WEDO form a hugely powerful network for women in businesses and have impacted an estimated 5 billion people.
How is WED celebrated?
On November 19 of every year, WED is celebrated at the United Nations, and at universities, companies, business organizations, and civic institutions in 144 countries. Events that are frequently held on or around WED include summits, conferences, and networking events on women in business that bring together business and thought leaders, policy makers, and other key stakeholders.
What programs and initiatives does WED offer?
Many of the programs and initiatives run by WED and WEDO are aimed at building and growing networks of like-minded entrepreneurial women that can help to provide valuable resources, support, and knowledge to other aspiring women in business. These include:
WEDO World Ambassadors—A network of the world’s leading women in business, WEDO World Ambassadors help to spread the WED message and build the WED movement in their own countries by collaborating with local organizations and governments.
WEDO Student Ambassadors—Encouraging more women to enter the business world also means getting more women into business schools and/or supporting women in business from a young age. Like the World Ambassadors, their more senior counterparts, WEDO Student Ambassadors raise awareness of the WED message on their campuses and encourage their fellow students to pursue entrepreneurial and business-oriented studies and activities.
WEDO Fellows—A bold experiment to rethink and reinvent entrepreneurship from the ground up, the WEDO Fellowship program brings together game-changing, trail-blazing entrepreneurial women to serve as WEDO advisors. In this role, WEDO fellows help to enhance and expand the WED mission, and to explore and investigate new ways to empower global women in business.
What are some accomplishments associated with WED?
WED is only a few years old, but its many associated programs and initiatives have resulted in all kinds of achievements, large and small, around the world. For example, WED has provided funding for 500 refugee girls from Syria to attend high school in Jordan; hosted a nation-wide entrepreneurship training program and contest in Saudi Arabia that resulted in 25 women students receive funding to launch their own businesses; provided university scholarships to 20 female students in Uruguay; and offered financial literacy education to 1,000 rural women in the Philippines.
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day may only occur once a year. However, at GBTI, Guyana’s leading indigenous financial institution, every day is an opportunity to celebrate women entrepreneurs. Through programs such as the Women of Worth Loan Facility, which offers single mothers access to the financing they need to start their own small businesses, GBTI is proud to support the many female entrepreneurs who are making important contributions to Guyana’s economy.