In the lead-up to International Women's Day we are reminded by the world’s media of the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. So, as part of these celebrations, I often take this weekend of the year to reflect on Astia’s successes, those of our entrepreneurs and the high growth ecosystem at large in advancing innovation through inclusive leadership teams.
Astia’s raison d’etre is to promote, ally and assist women high growth entrepreneurs and their ventures, one by one and by changing the ecosystem. As such, this year, we’re delighted and proud to be part of Google for Entrepreneurs’ campaign #40Forward: 40 startup communities rethinking the gender gap, a challenge issued to startup communities to increase participation by women by 25% this year.
Dramatically Increasing Women's Access to Capital
Astia and Google for Entrepreneurs are partnering to increase the frequency and city coverage of the Astia Venture Lunches. We are tripling the number of opportunities for exceptional woman-led start-ups to access capital, as well as expand our reach to include new markets outside of Silicon Valley, London and New York.
For those new to Astia Venture Lunch, it is Astia's groundbreaking effort to increase dramatically women's access to capital. Not once a year - or even quarterly - but every single month Astia showcases outstanding woman-led companies to accredited investors in London, New York and Silicon Valley. Using Astia's Expert Sift – the proprietary community-sourcing and screening process- in our search for supernovas, each presenting start-up is pre-screened by no less than 25 industry experts before being selected to present.
And what do we know that those selected start-ups will have in common? That their founders have made a very smart business decision: to be part of an inclusive leadership team.
Inclusivity is essential to innovation and job growth
“The diverse group almost always outperforms the group of the best by a substantial margin,” according to The Difference, Scott E. Page, University of Michigan. “The key to innovation, in economic terms, resides inside the heads of people, the more diverse the better. That link may not be immediately apparent, yet any understanding of innovation's role in economic growth must focus on diversity as well as ability.” As such, Astia works with inclusive leadership teams and actively encourages all members of the team to participate within our community, irrespective of their gender.
The importance of men’s participation in the global conversation around women’s high growth entrepreneurship
We know that high-growth entrepreneurs are similar in almost every respect. Regardless if male or female, entrepreneurs have largely the same education, economic background, needs, and challenges. This gives credence to the need for a unique offering for entrepreneurs focused on including men and women.
Women, however, place greater importance on the moral support, expertise, and financial backing of business partners, while men need far less encouragement from others. This desire of women, for community support and engagement, is what Astia offers our entrepreneurs.
Women uniquely need:
1. Access to Networks - Around the globe, men and women are still by-and-large in separate business networks. Men are the holders of capital for entrepreneurs. Investment relies heavily on trusted business relationships. Astia is a model for creating a global network of men and women doing business together.
2. Access to Opportunity - Research shows that women self-assess differently than men and as a result often have lower aspirations commensurate with the lower assessment of their abilities. Astia exposes women to the opportunity of high-growth entrepreneurship and to the tools and networks needed to succeed within it. This personal growth is best achieved through exposure to the Astia community of men and women who have been there themselves and understand the challenges entrepreneurs face.
Through all Astia’s work to promote, ally and assist women high growth entrepreneurs and their ventures, bringing together men and women who are dedicated to the success of women-led, high-growth ventures is front and center.
And I ask you this. As you assimilate the many truly inspiring women entrepreneurs you will read and hear about this week as we all celebrate International Women’s Day, take one decision that will ensure that men and women are coming together to change the gender gap.
Let’s move forward.
Let’s move #40Forward.