A Letter to the Next President on Behalf of Women Entrepreneurs
Nov. 1, 2016
To: Secretary Hillary Clinton / Mr. Donald Trump
Dear Madam Secretary / Mr. Trump:
We write to you today on behalf of our nation’s leading innovators, entrepreneurs and influencers regarding one of the largest untapped economic and social opportunities in our country – women entrepreneurs. If women and men participated equally in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the United States’ GDP could rise by $30 billion.
While women are starting businesses twice as fast as men, they face unique challenges, including experiencing disproportionately high failure rates, receiving only seven percent of venture capital and being represented in only seven percent of media stories. Through leadership and sound public policy, our country can benefit from the economic and social opportunity women entrepreneurs cultivate.
Over the last month, top business leaders – from enterprise CEOs to leading entrepreneurs – developed a set of policy and leadership recommendations that we believe will help women entrepreneurs start and scale businesses. Our suggestions for the necessary elements for success for women entrepreneurs focus on access to capital, expanding and supporting networks and markets, and addressing the changing face of business through technology.
First, we believe that access to and development of financial and human capital is essential to fostering women’s entrepreneurship; this can be supported through:
- Incentives for individuals and organizations to invest in women-owned companies through venture funds, corporate venture, private equity and social capital.
- Modernization and expansion of existing government certification, grant and loan programs that help women-owned businesses compete to reflect changing investment models.
- Promotion and marketing of existing government programs to encourage broader awareness and use.
- Continuing to foster small-business lending programs, including support for bridge loans.
- Working with innovators to create new sources of capital such as crowdfunding and impact investments.
- Encouraging enterprise corporations, federal departments and state/local contracts to increase supplier diversity with a percentage of contracts being awarded to women-owned businesses.
- Considering a shortening of government payment cycles from 90 days to 30 days for small women-owned suppliers.
- Expanding access to family-friendly policies including access to high-quality, affordable child care, care-giving and paid family leave policies.
Second, as women entrepreneurs and business owners turn to each other for help, we believe that the government and business leaders can help facilitate connections by increasing access to local and global networks and markets, by:
- Supporting trade agreements that further liberalize trade and open new markets for businesses of all sizes.
- Promoting global and open standards, and reliable mechanisms for cross-border data transfers and business support services and networks, while providing sufficient protections for privacy and information security.
- Supporting mentorship efforts through financial support and encouragement of multiplier platforms such as accelerators, continuing education and training programs, and facilitated networking events.
- Encouraging conscious placement of women on boards, in venture partnerships and on executive teams.
- Promoting positive success stories of female founders and business owners through the media, conferences and leadership movements.
Finally, as industry lines blur, we see technology-driven implications for both government and business. Government and business leaders can help women entrepreneurs thrive in the changing-face of technology, through:
- Streamlining the process of registering businesses and applying for government resources, particularly when working with strategic offices such as the Patent & Trademark Office, the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Drug Administration.
- Emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and digital literacy in education and early training programs.
- Working with business leaders and educators to encourage technology training programs to end unconscious biases in the STEM fields, government, corporations and institutions.
- Enabling access to broadband in all areas of our country.
- Increasing awareness of options women have to the hardware, software and digital resources they need to scale their companies.
Through empowering and promoting women entrepreneurs, we can help create jobs and solve some of our biggest economic and social challenges. Women put 90 percent of their income into their communities and families, therefore we believe their success will not only benefit our economy, but will also have a positive impact on society. We hope that you will make fostering female entrepreneurship a domestic policy priority during your upcoming term and look forward to working with you and your administration to implement the above recommendations and fulfill one of the greatest economic opportunities of our time.
Aaron Levie, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Box
Ajay Banga, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mastercard
Alex Buck, Vice President, Uptake
Alex Chung, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, GIPHY
Alexa von Tobel, Founder, LearnVest
Amy Millman, President, Springboard Enterprises
Ana Dutra, President and Chief Executive Officer, Executives’ Club of Chicago
Anat Baron, Chief Executive Officer, StashWall
Andrea Wishom, Chief Operating Officer, Skywalker Properties Ltd.
Andy Dunn, Chief Executive Officer, Bonobos
Blake Irving, Chief Executive Officer, GoDaddy
Brian Lee, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, The Honest Company
Carol Nacy, Chief Executive Officer, Sequella
Carolyn Rodz, Founder, Circular Board
Carrie Southworth, Co-Founder, Twigtale
Cindy Whitehead, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Pink Ceiling
Cornell Iral Haynes II p/k/a Nelly, Chief Executive Officer, Derrty Ventures
Dan Teran, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Managed by Q
Daniel Lubetzky, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kind Snacks
David Williams, Managing Principal, Policy, Government Relations, and Corporate Citizenship, Deloitte
Deborah Perry Piscione, Founder, Alley to the Valley, Nobiyo Freshwear
Debra Sterling, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, GoldieBlox
Denise Brosseau, Chief Executive Officer, Thought Leadership Lab
Diane Hessan, Founder and Chairman, C Space
Donna Harris, Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, 1776
Donna M. Petkanics
Elizabeth Gore, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Dell
Erin Gore, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Gore Family Vineyards
Ingrid Vanderveldt, Founder and Chairman, EBW2020 and Vanderveldt Global Investments
Jana Rich, Founder, Rich Talent Group
Jean Case, Chief Executive Officer, Case Foundation
Jennifer Newsom, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Representation Project
Jeremy Burton, Chief Marketing Officer, Dell
Jeremy Liew, Managing Director, Lightspeed Venture Partners
Jesse Draper, Chief Executive Officer, Halogen Ventures
Jessica Alba, Founder, The Honest Company
Jessica Malkin, Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Ideas Week
Jessica Rovello, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Arkadium
Joanna Rees, Senior Partner, The B Team
Jon Steinberg, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cheddar
Jules Pieri, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Grommet
Julia Hartz, Co-Founder, Eventbrite
Julie Goonewardene, Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Strategic Investment; Managing Director UT Horizon Fund, University of Texas System
Julie Smolyansky, Chief Executive Officer, Lifeway Foods
Kara Goldin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, hint Inc.
Karen Quintos, Chief Customer Officer, Dell
Kate Brodock, Co-Founder and President, Women 2.0
Katia Beauchamp, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Birchbox
Katrina Lake, Chief Executive Officer, Stichfix
Katrina Markoff, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Vosges Haut-Chocolat
Leah Busque, Founder and Executive Chairwoman, TaskRabbit
Lindsay Holden, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Long Game
Lisa Price, Founder, Carol’s Daughter
Maria Burns Ortiz, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, 7 Generation Games
Marie Forleo, Owner, MarieTV and Marie Forleo International
Marius Haas, President and Chief Commercial Officer, Dell EMC
Mark Gainey, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Strava
Matt Maloney, Chief Executive Officer, GrubHub
Max Levchin, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Affirm
Melanie Whelan, Chief Executive Officer, SoulCycle
Meredith Kendall, Marketing Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners
Michael Birch, Co-Founder, The Battery
Michael Chaffin, Chief Executive Officer Three Commas LLC, President of Derrty Ventures
Michelle Smyth, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pay Your Selfie
Niamh King, Vice President, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Nicole Quinn, Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners
Nina Nashif, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Healthbox
Nina Vaca, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pinnacle Group
Pamela Reilly Contag, Chief Executive Officer, ConcentRx
Rachel Haot, Managing Director, 1776
Rhonda Vetere, Chief Technology Officer, Esteé Lauder
Sallie Krawcheck, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ellevest
Sarah Kauss, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, S’well Bottle
Shaherose Charania, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Women 2.0
Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder, Chairwoman & CEO, Care.com
Stacy Brown-Philpot, Chief Executive Officer, TaskRabbit
Steve Case, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Revolution and Chairman of the Case Foundation
Tiffany Pham, Founder, Mogul
Tina Wells, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Buzz Marketing Group
Trish Costello, Chief Executive Officer, Portfolia
Tyler Bosmeny, Chief Executive Officer, Clever
Wende Zomnir, Founding Partner and Chief Creative Officer, Urban Decay Cosmetics
Wendy Guilles, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Xochi Birch, Co-Founder, The Battery
Zaw Thet, Founding Partner, Signia VC
CC: Members of the 115th Congress
Note: These recommendations are the points of view of the signatories, not of a specific corporation.
 McKinsey Global Institute, “The Power of Parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth” (2015): 11.
 U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, “Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century” (2010): 6.
 Phil Borges, Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World (New York: Rizzoli, 2007), 13.