Access to capital is the number one pain point all small business owners face, and this access to capital is still deeply rooted in a system that excludes the majority of Americans. It’s astonishing, but perhaps not all that surprising, that in 2019 women only received 2.7% of venture capital (VC) funding (an increase from 2.2% in 2018), and businesses owned by women of color receive a small fraction of that tiny sliver of the VC pie.
According to the Harvard Business Review, researchers found that venture capitalists allow gender stereotypes to inform their decision-making process for funding. And you guessed it, they view men as having more suitable traits for success in business, despite data disputing all of their assumptions. Stereotypes about women-business owners, which researchers found no evidence of, included notions that women are more cautious, risk-averse, reluctant to grow their businesses, under-resourced, and that women-owned businesses under-perform businesses owned by men. A new advocacy and funding campaign for small business owners, led by Kristen Bell, Jean Case, Phyllis Newhouse, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Serena Williams (among others) launched last week to reach 100,000 entrepreneurs.
Hello Alice, founded by Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz, is an AI-powered small business growth platform that is free to small business owners, curating expert “how-to” articles and videos as well as funding opportunities based on an entrepreneur’s background, industry, and stage of growth.
Last week, Hello Alice launched a nationwide campaign Business for All, a movement to uplift hundreds of thousands of small business owners by providing access to funding, influential celebrity mentorship opportunities, and Capitol Hill advocacy around small business priorities this election year. The biggest component will be $200,000 worth of grants available in seven different SBO categories – women-owned, Latino-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ+-owned, African American-owned, Disability-owned, and an all-inclusive category that will offer three grants.
In providing these funding opportunities, Business for All aims to make important changes in business capital to help advance equal representation in small business ownership. And they’re also changing funding agreements with the first-ever #MeToo morality clause, holding investors and board members accountable for discriminatory behavior on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, or race.
Take Action! Nominate your favorite woman-owned small business for a grant and mentorship at HelloAlice.com. If you’re a small business owner, visit the site for free how-to guides and advice, guided live video mentorship, and digital support communities to help make your business a success.