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Thursday, November 22, 2018

The State of Funding for Female Entrepreneurs

Women discussing funding

Women make up 40.5% of the workforce in the U.S., and despite decades of pervasive misogyny, they have risen to professional success in many fields. They’re capable, resilient, and often have extensive business experience that qualifies them for a host of valuable positions. Unfortunately, credit isn’t always given where it is due, and their bids for funding are often overlooked and ignored. As a society, we’re moving closer to fair and equal access to opportunity, but—for now—funding for female entrepreneurs is underwhelming at best.
When you think of all the great modern entrepreneurs, you probably think of people like Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and Mark Cuban. But why don’t you think of Beth Comstock, co-founder of Hulu? She’s an equally capable leader and businesswoman. This is part of the reason business funding for women is so disappointing: the stereotype that entrepreneurship is a male endeavor causes women to be pushed aside for funding opportunities. Society has been conditioned to entrust positions of power to men, which is a phenomenon that needs to be consciously condemned by those with the power to create change.

To be sure, venture capital is a cut-throat industry for everyone involved, regardless of gender, and people are frequently and ruthlessly denied funding for all sort of reasons. But it’s also true that, when compared to businesses run by men, women-owned businesses receive only 7% of investment capital and are 15-20% less likely to be approved for a loan. This disparity can partially be explained by nepotism as venture capitalists tend to favor people with whom they share a history, be it personal or professional. But it’s especially difficult for women to make imperative connections in an industry that’s so male-dominated and partial to one gender.

There are currently some programs that prioritize funding for female entrepreneurs. For example, 57.4% of SBA Microloan Program’s loans went to women-owned businesses. Alternative lending is also an important aspect of a business’s success. Crowdfunding, for example, can be very lucrative.

Venture capital is not for everyone—it’s an elitist and hostile industry that rewards apathy and callousness. But no one should be denied the opportunity to pursue their interests on the basis of their gender.