Enterprising Women

Worldwide event aims to inspire more women to found businesses.
Enterprising Women

THIS FALL, universities are invited to take part in Women Entrepreneurship Week (WEW), a global event held each year during the third week in October. Launched in 2014 by Montclair State University’s Feliciano School of Business in New Jersey, WEW will take place this year starting on October 13. Last year, 76 universities in 15 countries (and 22 U.S. states) participated.

Sharon Waters, program manager at Montclair State’s Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, invites colleges, universities, and nonprofits to organize WEW events dedicated to promoting women’s entrepreneurship. Events can be big or small, stand alone, or include a series of activities, explains Waters. She says that most participating universities invite women startup founders—most often alumnae—to participate on panel discussions or act as guest speakers.

For example, in 2017, Lebanese American University in Beirut asked six guest speakers to share their experiences with students over two days. The University of Delaware in Newark asked a woman entrepreneur to offer tips on pitching a business idea as part of its existing “Workshop Wednesday” series. Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, held a speed mentoring session that brought students together with female alumnae who have pursued entrepreneurial careers.

Nonprofits also participate. In 2016, women entrepreneurs gathered in one woman’s home in Kigali, Rwanda, to talk about challenges they face. They called the group Agakiza Women, which means “Faith Women.” This gathering was set up with the help of a Feliciano School board member involved with a New Jersey-based nonprofit that does development work in Rwanda.

Waters plans to create a LinkedIn group where all WEW organizers and attendees can join and network.

In an October 23, 2017, blog post on Medium.com, Waters noted that women entrepreneurs are underrepresented globally—men outnumber them two to one. “Read any research paper or news article on why more women don’t become entrepreneurs, and a lack of female role models in the startup space is nearly always mentioned as one reason,” Waters writes. “A major aim of Women Entrepreneurship Week is to connect successful female founders with college- age women all over the globe.”

To learn more about WEW, visit WomenEntrepreneurshipWeek.com. To view videos of WEW 2017 participants sending short greetings, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKgCIQP6XVI. Email questions to [email protected].