Alexandra Reeve Givens, co-founder of BEACON: The D.C. Women Founders’ Initiative and Executive Director of the Institute for Technology Law and Policy at Georgetown Law, joined the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) today at the U.S. Capitol for a conversation about entrepreneurial ecosystems and their service of women entrepreneurs in cities across the country. Givens participated in a panel discussion at NWBC’s May 2017 Public Meeting along with representatives from Atlanta, Boston and New York City.
“A supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurs requires access to resources, meaningful pathways to capital, opportunities to showcase their business, and a connected community where women support one another,” said Givens. “I was proud to share information about BEACON’s work to improve resources for D.C.’s women entrepreneurs and to engage with other city representatives about how we can strengthen regional ecosystems for women entrepreneurs to succeed.”
BEACON: The D.C. Women Founders’ Initiative is a community-led campaign to make Washington D.C. the most influential and supportive city for women entrepreneurs in the United States. It launched in fall 2016 through the efforts of a group of women entrepreneurs, local leaders, and policy advocates who are committed to supporting diverse women’s entrepreneurship in our nation’s capital.
Among other projects, BEACON manages a community website that contains D.C.’s first and largest database of women entrepreneurs, creating a platform for women entrepreneurs to connect with and support one another. The organization also curates resources for D.C.-area entrepreneurs and manages a community calendar. The website was unveiled as part of Washington D.C.’s programming on inclusive innovation at SXSW this spring.
During her remarks, Givens noted that BEACON will soon be launching a grant program supported by the D.C. Mayor’s Office to fund local organizations that direct resources and support to D.C.’s women entrepreneurs. The grant program will launch at the end of May.
NWBC recently released a new report about entrepreneurial ecosystems entitled Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and their Service of Women Entrepreneurs. The research outlines a model that can be adopted by local stakeholders to evaluate their regional economy, identify significant actors and activities, and consider how to strengthen the system of support for women business owners. This report served as a backdrop for today’s Public Meeting – From Neighborhoods to National: A Closer Look at Ecosystems for Women Entrepreneurs – which also from a panel of NWBC Council Members sharing their experiences of finding support in local ecosystems.
“NWBC’s entirely new ecosystem model can be used as a tool to evaluate how different components of an ecosystem work together to engage, advise, and drive the growth of women entrepreneurs. Privately held women-owned businesses number almost 10 million according to 2012 Survey of Business Owners, and employ 8 million people, including more than 26,600 people in the District, but they are still an underrepresented segment of the U.S. economy,” said NWBC Council Member Rose Wang. “Access to capital and access to markets remain persistent challenges to women business owners, and conversations at both the regional and the national level, like today’s discussion about ecosystems, are critical to ensure that we continue to put policies in place to further women’s entrepreneurial participation and to help women-owned businesses grow and thrive in D.C. and across the country.”