I’ve been curious about the newly opened Founders’ Grove. This shared office space brings together several nonprofits that focus on economic development by helping urban, and minority entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. When the opportunity to attend an event there came up this week, I had to go.
Presented by Christina Long, the founder of Create Campaign, this event, Spark!, promised to “provide inspiration to help start or grow your business.” It did not disappoint.
Christina Long at Founders' Grove
It isn't easy to stay motivated, and these kinds of classes help me, especially when the teacher is one of my favorite speakers! Christina is genuinely inspiring and dedicated to helping people grow and prosper. I can’t say enough good things about her and Create Campaign.
The event was so inspiring; it sparked an idea in me! I wish I’d have come up with this idea sooner in the Christmas shopping season, but I think this initiative is bigger than that. My idea, SheShopICT, is an action to support and promote women-owned and led businesses.
We talk about how important it is for women to support women, but what does that mean? We talk about giving women a hand up. When we get promoted into power positions, empowering and helping other women get there too. We speak out about showing up for women, collaborating rather than competing, and being role models to inspire other women to step into their potential.
I see lots of talk of support, conferences, and articles for women in the workplace, and how to get promotions and negotiate for higher pay, but I don’t see much support for women who have created the workplace. What support are we giving women entrepreneurs?
They need our help too. Being a business owner is tough, and these women are putting themselves on the line and taking big risks to create jobs and businesses that make lives better. Most people may not realize it, but it is much more challenging to make it as a woman entrepreneur because: It’s harder for women to get funding. According to the Kauffman Foundation, 30% of businesses are owned by women, but they only get 5% of equity capital. Women often get turned down for funding or get less than they ask for, so they either use riskier forms of debt, like credit cards, to start businesses or they have to use their own money. This makes it nearly impossible for women who don’t have their own money, or credit, to start businesses even when their business is promising.
Women business owners struggle to be taken seriously. The world of business is still dominated by men, with lots of ideas about what a women’s place in society should be. It’s no wonder that a few years ago, a company called Witchsy created a fake male co-founder so they could better communicate with male website developers. They said it was like “night and day” in how they were treated and their ability to get help. While the story is amusing, it’s proof positive that gender bias does exist and how much harder it is for women to even get a chance in business.
Supporting local, women-owned companies is good for the economy. It’s a commonly known fact that shopping at locally owned businesses puts money back in the economy. But women-owned business owners can contribute even more to economic growth, just by being allowed to play.
Women-owned businesses are driving economic growth in the United States. They represent 42% of all companies — nearly 13 million — employing 9.4 million workers and generating revenue of $1.9 trillion and has the potential to do much more.
Locally, the Chung Report showed that part of the reason Wichita has been slow to come out of the recession is because of the lack of business opportunities for women in our city. Nationally, the American Express 2019 study of the state of women-owned businesses says, "The potential of women entrepreneurs for spurring economic growth has not been fully realized.” While it’s not just a local problem, this is where we can make an impact.
How you can help!
For me, “support” means more than just “liking” someone’s social media post. It’s about spending money with them and helping promote their business in a meaningful way. Advertising is expensive, and people don’t believe it anyway, so being a cheerleader for a business and helping promote it keeps businesses we love around.
Now, through the end of January, I’m running what I’m calling the SheShopICT Challenge. I’m asking people to take specific actions to support women-owned businesses and nonprofits in ways that will really help them be more successful. Of course, spending money with one of these businesses is fantastic, there’s more you can do to help that doesn’t involve buying a thing. For example, sharing an email newsletter with a friend you think would like to read it.
Here are the actions that earn your entries:
Spend money with the organization.
Like/Follow the social media profile of the organization.
Leave a positive review for the organization on social media, such as Google, Yelp, Facebook, Travel Adviser, etc.
Post a picture on social media of your visit or something you purchased and tag the organization.
Share the organization's social media post, blog, or newsletter.
Share one of the organization’s posts or events on your social media.
When you complete one of these actions, you’ll be able to enter our weekly drawing to win a $100 value gift certificate or prize to a women-owned local business by going to http://bit.ly/sheshopict, and entering the name of the company and checking a box for the action you took. Super fast and easy!
The response I’ve gotten from businesses I’ve reached out to for prizes has been phenomenal! So far, Lucinda’s, GreenAcres Market, Planet Hair, Hopping Gnome, and Nikki Moddelmog Massage have ponied up $100 gift certificates, and I’ve barely started asking. If you would like your women-owned business to be part of this, email me. I'd love to have daily drawings if enough companies want to play. Prize drawings start next week.
Help us build a directory!
Do you know businesses in Wichita that are women-owned? We need a directory! Part of this challenge is to build this list on our online class website. We want to add all kinds of businesses in all types of industries – not just retail. Anything goes!
While I do love social media, I’ve decided to put this list on our website community forum so everyone can play. We’re just starting to develop this part of the site, so this will help give us something to talk about. I’m excited to get more people interacting in our own positive, supportive environment.
While anyone will be able to see the list without signing into the site by clicking on https://schoolmodwomen.com/community, to add a listing, you’ll need to sign up for your free social membership on https://schoolmodwomen.com, click on Community and add the business. Be sure to go to the entry form and let me know what you did, so you’ll be entered into the contest.
Help us spread the word!
Please help us let others about this challenge. Go to our social media sites to share our posts. You can share this newsletter or our blog about the Challenge. We'll have flyers and printed materials for this challenge too, so let me know if you need anything to help you share this info. (By the way, helping us share the word about the challenge counts for an entry too!)
I did something similar in 2012 when I started CashMobICT. (Go here to read more about it.) It was a ton of fun and got people excited about shopping local. I think this could be even bigger with your help!
When one of us wins, we all win. Let's make this happen!
The Finishing School for Modern Women, located in Wichita, Kansas, offers classes to help women find their authentic selves; not because we need finishing, but because we’re never finished. We bring together women of all ages, to learn from experts and each other, how to claim our power in business, finance, communication, and life. To learn more about our live classes visit https://www.finishingschoolformodernwomen.com or https://schoolmodwomen.com/ for our online classes and free social membership.
Contact us at 316-841-8927 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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