Hyderabad: Advisor to US President Ivanka Trump has expressed concern over the obstacles being faced by women in starting and running a business.
Addressing the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at HICC on Tuesday, Ivanka said despite the soaring rate of female entrepreneurs, women still face steep obstacles to starting, owning, and growing their businesses. “We must ensure women entrepreneurs have access to capital, access to networks and mentors, and access to equitable laws,” he said.
She pointed out that in developing countries, 70% of women-owned small and medium-sized businesses are denied access to capital. The result has been a nearly $300 billion dollar annual credit deficit for women entrepreneurs in the developing world.
In the United States, a Harvard Business Review report found that investors ask men questions about their potential for gains whereas they ask women questions about their potential for loss. This could in part explain why women entrepreneurs received less than 3% of venture capital funding in 2016, she said.
“We are working to reverse this trend. The U.S. Small Business Administration, for example, increased its lending to women by over $500 million dollars this year alone. When it comes to networks and mentorship, roughly half of women in the United States say they have difficulty finding a mentor.
Yet, mentorship is critical to success. Entrepreneurs need professional guidance to help them start and grow their businesses. In the United States, we are fostering mentorship through programs such as SCORE – a nationwide initiative where successful men and women coach those who want to become their own CEOs.
And when it comes to equitable laws, while many developed and developing countries have made tremendous strides, there is still much work to be done,” she said.
Ivanka said in some countries, women are not allowed to own property, travel freely, or work without the consent of their husbands. In even more countries, the cultural and family pressure is so great that women do not feel the freedom to work outside the home.
“Our Administration is striving to promote greater opportunity for women around the world, both through our domestic reforms and our international initiatives. This summer, at the G20 conference, the United States was a founding member of a bold, new initiative with the World Bank – the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, or WeFi.
This facility provides access to capital, networks, and mentorship for women in developing countries. WeFi is the first facility to support women entrepreneurs at this scale, and we anticipate it will be able to leverage in excess of $1 billion dollars in public and private financing.
This facility also seeks to address the legal and regulatory barriers that limit opportunities for women entrepreneurs. In the last decade, USAID has promoted women entrepreneurship through a number of programs, including providing micro-finance loans to women in Afghanistan, and bringing Internet access to women in Nigeria and Kenya,” she said.
She thanked USAID Administrator Mark Green, who was present in the GES, for the initiatives that changed millions of lives, both domestically and abroad.
Ivanka said that the Global Entrepreneurship Summit was yet another powerful example of a U.S. initiative that connects entrepreneurs around the world with investors who believe in your mission and will champion your success. “I want to thank the U.S. business leaders who have traveled all the way to Hyderabad for this inspiring event.
I also want to congratulate the more than 350 American entrepreneurs who were selected to be here with us to represent America’s brightest talent. At home, our administration is committed to empowering women entrepreneurs through domestic reforms.
In the past 11 months, we have expanded apprenticeship programs and prioritized STEM education to ensure that women – and men – have more opportunities to master the skills that drive progress in the 21st century.
We have dramatically reduced job-crushing regulations, which disproportionately hurt entrepreneurs and small business owners. And we are laser focused on passing long over-due tax cuts. This will provide much needed relief to working families and businesses of all sizes,” she said.
She said for the first time ever, the US President’s Budget included a proposal to establish a nationwide program for paid family leave. “We are committed to supporting women, and men, who work, inside and outside of the home. When women work, it creates a unique multiplier effect.
Women are more likely than men to hire other women, and to give them access to capital, mentorship and networks. Women are also more likely to reinvest their income back in their families and communities,” she said.
Ivanka also applauded Prime Minister Narender Modi for his firm belief that ‘the progress of humanity is incomplete without the empowerment of women. “Just consider, if India closes the labor-force gender gap by half, your economy could grow by over $150 billion dollars in the next three years,” she said. She thanked PM Modi for “what all he is doing to build India as a thriving economy, a beacon of democracy and a symbol of hope to the world”.
“From your childhood selling tea to your election as India’s Prime Minister, you’ve proven that transformational change is possible. And now you are bringing that promise to hundreds of millions of people across your country. To the people of India, I want to congratulate you as you celebrate the 70th anniversary of your Independence.
You are celebrating it as the world’s largest democracy, and one of the fastest growing economies on earth. Through your own enterprise, entrepreneurship, and hard work, the people of India have lifted more than 130 million citizens out of poverty – a remarkable improvement, and one I know will continue to grow under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
All of you are helping India’s middle class reach its goal of nearly 500 million people by 2030. You have opened new universities across the Country. Your doctors and scientists are discovering medical cures and life-saving technologies. Your engineers and architects have built modern wonders that grace your skies. And Indian spacecraft have travelled to the Moon and to Mars. The people of India inspire us all,” she said.
Ivanka also described Hyderabad as a city that is quickly emerging as the innovation hub of India. “It’s wonderful to be in this ancient city brimming with transformative technology. Now your tech centers may even outshine your world-famous Biryani.
CEOs like Microsoft’s Satya Nadella went to school right here in Hyderabad. Just a few kilometers away, T-Hub’s brand new facility is set to open next year – and will become the largest incubator in Asia.
In this “City of Pearls” the greatest treasure is You – the dreamers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders who never give up, never abandon your aspirations and always strive for a better tomorrow, she said.
She said this year’s Summit is focused on a theme that is key to our future – ‘Women First, Prosperity for All’. “I am proud that for the first time ever, women make up the majority of the 1500 entrepreneurs selected to attend. Only when women are empowered to thrive; will our families, our economies, and our societies reach their fullest potential,” she said.
In the last decade, women have made remarkable strides in starting new businesses. Globally, between 2014 and 2016, entrepreneurship activity among women increased by 10%. In the United States, within the last decade, the number of women-owned firms has grown by 45%. Even more promising, minority women have started nearly 8 in 10 new women-owned businesses.
Today, more than 11 million women in the United States own businesses. They employ nearly 9 million workers and generate over $1 trillion dollars in revenue, she said.
The Advisor to US President also introduced entrepreneurs Dara Dotz from San Francisco, Rajlakshmi Borthakur from Bengaluru and 15-year-old Reyhan Camalova from Azerbaijan who started innovative businesses. “These women represent the vision, ambition, and grit of every entrepreneur here today. You are saving lives, creating jobs, and bringing hope to our communities.
You are transforming our societies one business, and one customer, at a time. You prove to the world that we have the power to rise above the challenges of our day – to pioneer new pathways forward – and to leave our mark on this moment in history,” she said.
“Just think how much better our world will be if all of us, men and women, are empowered to dream big, aim high, and work together towards a more just and prosperous future.
A future where all mothers and fathers can work hard and build a better life for their families – where all boys and girls can go to school, discover their talents, and pursue their ambitions – and where the people of all nations can live and work with one another in dignity and peace. This is the future we can and will build together,” Ivanka Trump said. (INN)