How can enterprise businesses support women-owned small tech businesses? It’s a straightforward question with a less than straightforward answer — or answers.
For Women’s History Month, Community Impact and Corporate Responsibility team lead for UBS in the Americas Jamie Sears, CEO and Founder of Posture Stacy Kirk, Co-Founder of tech company Meylah and Women in Cloud Chaitra Vedullapalli, and Hello Alice Co-Founder Elizabeth Gore met to discuss exactly this.
“Right now, only 3% of the corporate procurement dollars go to women and 5% of federal contracts go to women-owned,” said Chaitra Vedullapalli. “And when you slice that data, it’s less than 1% for tech founders.”
Here are some takeaways for enterprise businesses looking to support women-owned small businesses in tech.
1. Do Business With Women-Owned Businesses
This may seem obvious, but it’s hard to support women entrepreneurs when you never interact with them in a meaningful way. And the most meaningful way to engage these businesses? Simply use their services or purchase their offerings.
“It’s not just about investment dollars — it’s about buying from women,” explained Jaimie Sears of UBS. “We can provide mentorship and support and training, but at the end of the day, the ability to grow a company is going to be through customers and an investment.”
What does that mean for enterprises? Start by seeking out women-owned small businesses for procurement needs.
2. Support Female-Built Tech Stacks
When Stacy Kirk started her business, she knew she wanted to work with enterprise businesses. And eventually, the opportunity arose.
“My dream eventually came true, and I was able to work with enterprise,” Stacy Kirk said. “But then my nightmare started: I was sent to the security review board and asked to meet all of these cybersecurity requirements that I didn’t know how to do. And I had to be able to do it in the next week or two.”
This spurred Stacy to found Posture — an affordable cybersecurity solution for small businesses.
“[Entrepreneurs] have very limited budgets as founders, and we’re just trying to stay alive,” Stacy explained. “There are solutions out there, but they’re $50,000 starting, and that’s just not realistic.”
After all, most small businesses don’t have the capital to throw at cybersecurity. Elizabeth Gore shared during the panel that “MasterCard came out with some data that cyber is in the top three risks of shutting down a small business now.”
Enterprises can support women-owned businesses by providing cybersecurity or helping to refine their already in place cybersecurity measures.
3. Collaborate with Women Entrepreneurs
“Digital transformation in the enterprise is actually driven by data,” Chaitra Vedullapalli. “It’s really changing a process and automating the process with technology.”
And one of the best ways big companies can get that data? Work directly with the people you want to learn about.
“One of the ways enterprise [companies] can pull in women entrepreneurs,” says Gore, “is through content-based educational partnerships.”
A great example of this is the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, an initiative that uses MasterCard data to help small businesses learn and grow. Enterprise companies can create more strategic partnerships to empower women-owned small businesses.
For detailed stats about the current needs of women small business owners, read our full report here.
Finally, to hear the full discussion and discover more ways to support women-owned small tech businesses, be sure to check out the complete recording. Watch It Now!