Astia named in Opening Session as providing great leadership to women entrepreneursAstia, the premier Silicon Valley venture accelerator for women-led high growth companies, today announced that CEO Sharon Vosmek participated in the Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference convened by The White House Council on Women and Girls, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Treasury on October 4, 2010. Astia was named in the Opening Session by Karen Mills, Administrator US Small Business Administration, as providing great leadership and was invited to share with these agencies the learnings, perspectives, and experiences unique to women high-growth entrepreneurs. The day was comprised of opening keynotes followed by working break-out sessions to discuss challenges and solutions moving forward.
While women have made great strides in growing businesses and creating jobs over the past few decades, significant challenges still remain. This Conference brought together a mix of business owners, women leaders, advocacy groups and government officials to address the critical challenges, opportunities and public policy initiatives needed to move the women’s business agenda to the next level. The event was a clear sign of the Obama Administration’s commitment to creating opportunities for women and fostering their entrepreneurial spirit.
“I commend The White House Council on Women and Girls, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Treasury for convening this conference and recognizing the important role of women entrepreneurs in the economy,” said Sharon J. Vosmek, CEO of Astia. “I was honored to be invited to the conversation to ensure that the unique needs of high growth companies were discussed, as compared to small businesses and micro enterprises.”
According to Astia, two of the greatest challenges for high growth women entrepreneurs are:
• Access to networks. Men and women in different networks is a societal issue that is magnified in the investment or fundraising scenario and a gender inclusive approach is needed. Currently there are too many women-only solutions and this approach excludes women from opportunities to which they should have access.
• Self-assurance. Women still self assess lower than men, and therefore their business aspirations are often understated. With access to diverse networks and advisors and the opportunity to scale the business, women succeed.
A new report focused on these challenges, titled “Women-owned Businesses in the 21st Century,” was released at the conference. This report was prepared by the US Dept of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration for the White House Council on Women and Girls. Key findings of the study shared with the group included:
• Women owned businesses contribute $1.2 Trillion to the US Economy;
• Women owned businesses lag behind their male counterparts in growth;
• Key causes for the lag continue to be access to capital and industries chosen by women (i.e. healthcare and education);
• Between 1997 and 2006, majority women-owned firms in the U.S. grew at nearly twice the rate of all US privately held firms;
• Currently 10.1 million firms are owned by women, employing more than 13 million people, and generate $1.9 trillion in sales.
In her opening remarks, Karen Mills, Administrator of the US Small Business Association named Astia and Dr. Patricia Greene of Babson College (pictured in photo above) as key to the day’s conversations. Speakers at the event included Tina Tchen, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement & Executive Director of the White House Council on Women & Girls and Valerie Jarrett, Sr. Advisor to the President & Chair of the White House Council on Women & Girls. Approximately 120 people were in attendance.
Astia is a global not-for-profit organization built on a community with a distinct focus and mission – to propel women’s full participation as entrepreneurs and leaders in high-growth businesses, fueling innovation and driving economic growth. Guided by a proven philosophy that gender diversity is an essential element of innovation, Astia works with start-ups around the world as they access capital, grow their businesses, and hone the leadership skills of their founding teams.
The Astia model of engaging a community of experts to the benefit of the select start-ups it serves has resulted in an exceptional success rate: since 2003, over 60 percent of companies that have participated in the Astia Investor Forums have secured funding or achieved an exit within one year of presenting, totalling more than $750 million dollars raised and 20 exits, including two IPOs. Headquartered in San Francisco, Astia delivers programs for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, New York, London and India. Astia has also had significant press coverage in major media channels including The New York Times, Businessweek, Forbes, The Daily Telegraph and The Financial Times.
For more information, visit www.astia.org.