In Massachusetts, a new hub in the works to bolster women entrepreneurship
This article originally appeared in the Boston Business Journal on November 23, 2021.
The Center for Women and Enterprise is building a hub to bring resources to women entrepreneurs, and those interested in entrepreneurship, under a new three-year partnership with the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, the organizations announced Monday.
The CWE Hub will offer technical assistance, training, access to experts and other resources to women entrepreneurs across the state, the organizations said in a joint news release. Among other things, CWE says women looking to start, grow or leave a business would have access to one-on-one consultations or workshops, which range from strategic planning and hiring the first employee to certifying a business as woman-owned.
The CWE Hub is also expected to provide a referral system, which would show what tools would fit the needs of each participant, and eventually an online community network.
MACP and CWE aim to launch the statewide component of the program by June. Once fully activated, success of the CWE Hub will be measured online and on the ground, paying close attention to the number of CWE Hub participants' business starts, revenue growth and jobs created.
“We are excited to partner with MACP to make sure that the commonwealth is not only a leading state for business, but also a leading state for women to do business,” Gaby King Morse, president and CEO of CWE, said in a statement. “When women are empowered to launch and grow their businesses, they drive economic growth, lift up their communities and create a more equitable world for Massachusetts and beyond.”
Women are the "fastest-growing, highest-performing and most economically underutilized subsegment of entrepreneurs," according to a March report from MACP with the Boston Mayor's Office of Women's Advancement, conducted by Deloitte. Despite Massachusetts' array of resources for entrepreneurs, women tend to struggle to identify and find the resources they need to advance.
CWE serves more than 4,500 annually with 64% being low and moderate income, and more than 30% being women of color. The CWE Hub is expected to offer resources for women across the state with a focus on women who are immigrants, people of color or residents of rural or Gateway communities.
“When women entrepreneurs have optimal access to the resources, financing, expertise and networks necessary to thrive, we all benefit,” said Jeffrey M. Leiden, chairman of the MACP board of directors and executive chairman of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. “We are delighted to partner with CWE to expand opportunities for women entrepreneurs in every corner of the commonwealth.”
MACP plans to help CWE with fundraising, including reaching out to foundations, corporate partners and other funders, as well as promoting the project and providing strategic guidance, the nonprofit said.
Under the partnership, CWE aims to create a "one-stop shop" for women entrepreneurs in hopes of reducing gender-based disparities. The CWE Hub includes a referral system to show what tools are available and which are the best fit, from trainings on developing a business plan to referrals to resources that could help funding women-owned businesses. The hub's referral system could also connect participants with job opportunities so they can work as an employee while saving up to start their own ventures.
In addition to the online referral system, the CWE hub is building an online community so entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can meet with people they could connect with based on common interests, industries or backgrounds, including company founders or experts.
"CWE is the best source of support for women-owned businesses,” said Vicki Gray, CEO and founder of New Chapter Home Improvement LLC and board member of CWE. “As a female entrepreneur, CWE has helped advance and expand my business through their entrepreneur educational workshops, technical support and government incentive programs ... CWE offers the resources and services that help level the playing field."