Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Linkblogging

The youth population, aged 12 to 24, has reached a historical high of 1.5 billion.  Youth are the entrepreneurs, workers, leaders, and parents making an impact today, and they will be responsible for the economic and social development of tomorrow.  Many youth around the globe however continue to lack access to quality employment and education opportunities. Without a background in financial literacy or access to business development resources, youth face constraints made more difficult by their age.  Expanding the entrepreneurial culture and skills of young citizens has the potential to improve economic stability and the overall health of communities.
It is against this backdrop that Making Cents International decided to organize the global Youth Microenterprise Conference. The world's leading experts and practitioners in youth microenterprise, entrepreneurship, and livelihood development will convene in Washington, DC to address the following critical issues:
  • The Role of Youth Microenterprise in the 21st Century: Facing the Challenge of Youth Unemployment and Vulnerability
  • Strategies to Address the Needs of Youth Entrepreneurs
  • How to Build Partnerships and Advance Youth Microenterprise to Support Social and Economic Development.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

SBA Gendered Entrepreneurship Study

By: Karuna Jaggar, Women's Initiative Director of Public Policy and Research


Regarding the new Small Business Administration study, "Are Male and Female Entrepreneurs Really That Different?", several things stand out to me from the report:
  1. Women entrepreneurs have different expectations, reasons for starting a business, and motivations from men;
  2. Women were more likely to start a business to balance work and family life whereas men were more likely to start a business to make money;
  3. Men are more likely to believe that starting a business is more important than spending time with one’s family;
  4. There is no statistically significant difference between men and women regarding motivation to start a business to be innovative and learn;
  5. Male entrepreneurs have consistently higher expectations for their business than female entrepreneurs, both with regard to earnings and number of employees;
  6. Male entrepreneurs had greater confidence that they can attract employees in addition they seek opportunities in different ways and start different kinds of businesses;
  7. Men are more likely to found technologically intensive businesses, biz's that lose their competitive advantage more quickly and businesses that have a less geographically localized customer base. Women are more likely to prefer low-risk/low-return businesses;
  8. Male entrepreneurs more likely to identify business opportunities through research;
  9. Controlling for these factors, gender does not affect new venture performance
The good news is that women-owned businesses are not smaller because the gender of the owner specifically limits business performance. Women are not simply less capable of running a business.
However, it is also clear is that preferences, motivations, and expectations are different for men and women. And the researchers point out that understanding such structural barriers to female entrepreneurship are critical for policy makers.

Experience with our clients confirms that work/family balance is a primary motivating factor for many women entrepreneurs, particularly low-income entrepreneurs, who for example may not be able to afford adequate child care through low-wage work.

While certainly many Women’s Initiative clients cite making more money as a key motivation in starting a business, it is unlikely that many (if any) would agree that starting a business is more important than spending time with family, as men in the study report. This research highlights the role of self-employment and business-ownership for women in balancing financial and non-financial responsibilities to provide for and care for their families.

In contrast to other research, this report finds that women do not lack self-confidence, in comparison with men, in their ability to undertake the firm organizing process and women entrepreneurs do not perceive greater barriers than male entrepreneurs. This finding may be explained by the fact that the study looks at entrepreneurs in the process of starting a business, rather than the likelihood of men and women to choose to start a business. This distinction is important in whether women even consider starting their own business, let alone act on the interest.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday Linkblogging

  • Links Check out this article in the Chicago Tribune about business training programs at home and abroad. It's a slightly unusual article, in that articles about social entrepreneurship and microfinance tend to focus on earned income strategies for nonprofits, and loan funds, respectively. This one also has quotes from Bill Clinton, who is focusing on such things these days.

  • A small item of note for Californians: The California Women Business Owners just elected a new board president.

  • pointed me to a new study by the SBA contrasting male and female small entrepreneurs. USA Today's blog summarized the findings. While there's no difference in performance between male and female run businesses:
    • Men had more business experience before opening their business, and higher expectations.
    • Women entrepreneurs had a bigger average household size. (This is a point women have mentioned to me often: They're more likely to shoulder extra responsibility for child care and elder care, which takes away from time spent on their business.)
    • Women were more likely to have positive revenues, but men were more likely to own an employer firm. (My take on this: Businesses with employees are more likely to have higher profits because they can take on more customers.)
    • Male owners were more likely to start a business to make money, had higher expectations for their business, and did more research to identify business opportunities.

  • An interesting interview with Laura Yamanaka, the new head of the Los Angeles chapter of NAWBO, which is gearing up for a big expansion.

  • Interesting article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about a fingerprinting expert who started her own business with help from the Service Corps of Retired Executives, or SCORE. Looks like a good resource, so check it out!

  • Small Business CEO blog is running excerpts from Ron Finkelstein's book 49 Marketing Secrets That Work to Grow Sales.

  • The Microenterprise Journal Blog (fantastic! That's going straight onto our blog roll!) has a podcast about the SBA and Congress looking at women's microenterprise. This is a must listen!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Equitable Time-off

By: Elizabeth de Renzy, Researcher and Data Analyst


The Louisville, KY Courier Journal has an article from Joyce Rosenberg about small businesses offering all employees the same time off they offer parents.

I think equitable time-off policies are a step in the right direction.

Not only are they fair to parents and non-parents alike but they undermine the old-fashioned belief that women are less dependable/dedicated employees than men because of their (assumed) family responsibilities – an argument that still keeps women out of high responsibility (and high paying) positions and supports gender inequality outside of the workplace as well.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Eat Local Week

By: Justina Cross, Women's Initiative Marketing Communications Manager


Justina_2I read a great blurb in the paper today about Eat Local Week which focuses on eating food grown and produced within 250 miles drive of San Francisco.

A very cool idea! I have friends who try and adhere to eating local all year long which is very admirable. We all know that cost and energy used directly relates to distribution of the food we eat…the farther it is from our home, the more energy it takes to get it into our hot little hands.
During Eat Local Week - next week, Sept. 23-29 - more than two dozen restaurants and stores will feature local foods and ingredients.

The week was conceived by Jordanna Thigpen, vice president of the city's Small Business Commission.

"By taking an Eat Local approach to our shopping and dining decisions," Thigpen said, "we can create a sustainable economy where less fuel is used in getting food to your table and the majority of dollars we spend stays in our community."
I visited the Eat Local SF website and discovered that we have three graduates participating in the week: Guisell Osorio of Sabores Del Sur, Andrea Doffing of Mirabai Chocolates, and Maria del Carmen of Estrellita Snacks. They all have such delicious food, and I encourage you to patronize their businesses for Eat Local Week starting Sept. 23.

China's Microcredit Question

By: David Veneziano, Women's Initiative CFO

This article from Forbes looks at the Agricultural Bank of China's microcredit program, funded from Australia, which has been running at a loss for community development purposes. The bank is about to go public, so there's a big discussion around how this will happen. Will they tighten up their operations? Will part of the program remain a "policy bank"? What's best for the loan recipients, for the investors, for China's economy?

The answer is simple: do you want to help disadvantaged people or not? There's a cost to everything and if you want to help people you have to pay for it.

At Women's Initiative, we don't expect to break even because we will make high risk loans, but we will not charge our clients a premium for added risk. We don't do this because it would put a big burden on the clients' ability to use/leverage the money we are lending them. It's a vicious cycle: more risk = more interest = more risk because of more interest payments, etc.

We hope to grow large enough to break even and we can do that by keeping our process streamlined, and keeping losses down by having a relationship with people we lend to. That's good enough.
It's tough to make money even as a regular bank. Why do you want to make money off of disadvantaged people? Isn't the government there to help?

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Self-Made Woman

By: Quela Mikell, Women's Initiative Graduate

A self-made woman is a woman that has to hit the ground running daily.

She has to accept the good with the bad. She has to make split decisions at a moment's notice. A kind of superwoman that goes unnoticed making her way out of no way. Taking care of her family and self and yes, sometimes in that order.

She is a woman with a big heart and with every breath believes her motivation comes from the love and commitment she possesses for the lives she affects. Driven at times, kind at others, peaceful the next, wanting, needing, also scared, even feeling stuck, she manages to keep moving because she is in the making.

There are more and more of us as time and the economic climate pursues, a very necessary infusion into the global world coming. So if you know of one of this special kind of women, or this description fits you, help her, support her, and be kind.

Because as she reaches her goal I promise she will not disappoint. because she is self-made, saying to other women and girls, "Yes you can be your own heart's desire, have what you want, if you are willing to do what it takes.

I'm back!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mary Robinson on Monday!

Mary_robinsonDon't forget, folks, former Irish president and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson will be visiting us in San Francisco on Monday, September 17 at the Palace Hotel, at 2 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105. This is a FREE EVENT! Invitation below.
Women's Initiative for Self Employment warmly invites you to a public speaking forum with the Honorable Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She will speak about her current work with the Women Leaders Intercultural Forum, a program of realizing rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative.
Monday, September 17, 2007 7:00-8:00 pm Public speaking engagement The Palace Hotel
The Honorable Mary Robinson is an advocate for women’s equality and leadership. Please join us for the public forum where she will speak about women’s leadership in the world and ways to link local women leaders with policymakers and global movers-and-shakers. We hope by participating in the evening, you will be inspired to support the work of the Women Leaders Intercultural Forum.
At Women’s Initiative, we know that poverty reduction is tied to women’s empowerment. Women who graduate from the Women’s Initiative program experience improved self-esteem and many become leaders in the Bay Area community. Join us to envision a world where women are major economic actors and can be found in leadership roles at the local, regional and global level. Imagine a world where poverty is nowhere to be found.

Please rsvp to

Wednesday Linkblogging

The aim of the organisation according to him was to improve the life of the average Nigerian and students. The bottom line of which was the banishment of hunger and frustration, promotion of peace and harmony, as well as encouragement of productivity and a saving culture.
Given the cost of an American education, and the massive debt under which American students are released into the wild, let's hope that someone stateside gets this bright idea soon, too!
"If you lend money to 7.3 million men, nobody will ask you why you give loans to men. But if we do it to women, everyone will ask you why you are working with only women,’’ Yunus said. "Before we began micro credit project, we questioned why women borrowed only one percent of bank money in the country and made a goal to lend women up to 50 percent of our money.’’

Yunus cited many positive things that have happened as a result of the tiny-loan program for women. In the past Bangladesh mothers had an average of 6.5 babies but the average had decreased to less than three over the last 25 years making the birth rate of the country the lowest among neighboring countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The article also gives stats on the decline of poverty in Bangladesh since the introduction of microcredit.
  • This site for "The Woman's Advantage" itself needs some marketing help, since it doesn't make clear exactly what it is: a book? a motivational speaker? a website? But the site is clearly dedicated to inspiring women small business owners, and you might want to check out this page of inspirational stories about successful women entrepreneurs.
  • Some good advice from the Springfield Business Journal about building wealth for your retirement outside your business.
  • And finally, a fun article about a Kansas woman entrepreneur who started her small business inspired by Britain's legendary tribal queen Boadicea.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Bakesale Betty's Fried Chicken Sandwich

Fd_chef01_032_radWe never got around to blogging about this a month ago when it happened, but the San Francisco Chronicle printed a short story about Women's Initiative graduate Bakesale Betty, which included the recipe to her famous fried chicken sandwiches.

Check it out for yourself!