I still remember our very first DWEN (Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network) Summit. 50 inspiring women from 11 countries joined us on June 19, 2010, in Shanghai, China. The goal? To collectively discuss how we could remove unique barriers for women entrepreneurs to succeed…namely, access to capital, technology, networks and advocacy.
Fast forward to this past week, nine years later…we hosted our 10th annual DWEN Summit in Singapore, and our network has grown to impact more than 5,000 women from 42 countries!
Joining us this year were more than 100 women entrepreneurs, investors and the next generation of pioneers – girls from around the world who joined us to participate in Girls Track. While the landscape for women entrepreneurs has certainly improved in the past decade, there is still so much we can achieve by coming together to Share, Inspire and Transform our businesses and world.
Dell’s commitment to entrepreneurs and small businesses goes way back. From day one, we’ve operated with an entrepreneurial mindset – after all, we were founded in Michael Dell’s dorm room!
Beyond our own entrepreneurial roots, Dell has a proud history of supporting the movers and shakers, the doers and the dreamers. Check out some of our proudest moments of progress in this short video!
In addition to inspiring keynotes, deep-dive workshops and ample time for networking, at this year’s summit, we released our annual WE Cities research. For the past 10 years, we’ve invested in annual research to better understand the obstacles standing in women’s way of not just starting a business, but growing it. More recently, we’ve focused this research on a city’s ability to foster growth for women entrepreneurs.
This year’s report gave us great news – all 50 cities improved their score since we last measured them in 2017! Among the few highlights:
San Francisco overtook New York for the #1 spot!
This was largely due to a big improvement in the city’s culture ranking, which shows that public dialogue around eliminating workplace bias is really starting to make an impact.
Dell has a long history of presence and advocacy in California. Just last year, we took our WE Cities research to California State legislators to show why entrepreneurs need innovative technology to grow, supporting the creation of the California Department of Innovation. This will help the state adopt emerging tech from entrepreneurs to offer better services to its citizens – a win-win for all involved.
Mexico City saw the greatest improvement from 2017 – moving from #45 to #29!
Critical to achieving this huge jump is the incredible increase of women in education and legislature in Mexico City. The city also increased corporate vendor procurement programs and access to capital for women entrepreneurs through crowdfunding campaigns.
We were so excited to see this progress, as our Government Affairs team has been especially active in Mexico City over the past few years, in partnership with government officials, media and the UN Foundation.
Specifically, we’ve focused on empowering youth to pursue entrepreneurial paths…so I love seeing the city’s uptick in female representation and role models, which will only accelerate the next generation’s opportunity!
Dell’s home cities of Austin and Boston held strong, with Austin moving up to #14 and Boston holding strong at #4.
We continue to invest in our local communities, because we know this translates into global progress.
In Austin, we have numerous local partnerships and a huge presence at global events like SXSW, where we host members of Congress to advocate for entrepreneurs and small businesses. And in Boston, we’ve brought our research into conversations with more than 150 local policymakers and private sector leaders to actively shape of proposals implemented in the city.
While all of this progress is so encouraging – there is still room for A LOT of improvement across the board. We can’t rely on our past progress and we can’t stop advocating until the playing field is equal for ALL entrepreneurs, ALL over the world.
So where do we go from here?
I was excited to announce at DWEN the evolution of our network, giving a view of how we will offer even more value to all of our members over the next 10 years:
- Growing the network by broadening criteria for inclusion and expanding local chapters
- Investing in educational content, offering webcasts, live virtual events and more
- Aligning with our small business division, providing unique promotions and discounts
- Hosting more DWEN events during the year at our regional Dell Technologies Forums, with the first taking place in Utrecht, Netherlands on Dec. 3!
Ten DWEN Summits later, I am feeling more hopeful than ever of the opportunity we’ll unlock in the next decade – how we’ll share with each other to transform and inspire the next wave of progress.
With 5,000 women who are breaking down barriers and the emerging force of trailblazing girls in our ranks, I can confidently say the opportunities are endless.
Here’s to the next 10 years!
Are you a woman entrepreneur and want to join DWEN? Apply here.