An estimated 274 million women globally are involved in business startups and an additional 139 million women are owners/managers of established businesses, says the 2020/21 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Women’s Entrepreneurship Report. WBENC data identifies more than 13 million female entrepreneurs in the U.S. alone.
International expansion is a different story. Only 12 percent of businesses that export are owned by women, reports the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President. This despite a finding by the White House Council on Women and Girls that women-owned firms that export not only earn more, but also employ more people and are, on average, more productive than women-owned firms that do not.
Why are women-owned businesses more likely than male-owned businesses to face obstacles to international trade? Either they think they cannot successfully export or do not have the appropriate support, such as training, education, advisory networks, and community programs.
But, as the GEM Report notes, “Entrepreneurship training programs that target women tend to focus on markets and sectors in which women are already well represented. . . .However, women operating in male-dominated sectors are very much overlooked. These programs are the ones that need to do the most work on inclusion programming and evaluation to ensure that women are properly supported and inspired to create great companies with lasting impacts on their markets and industries.” To date, wegg has provided service to more than 4,000 women business owners and entrepreneurs.
Exporting remains a male-dominated sector. That’s why author, educator, and entrepreneur Laurel Delaney founded Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global® (wegg®) in 2008—to help women break through this barrier to growth.
Why wegg matters
At first, wegg was a one-stop website with articles and other resources for women business owners to use in growing their customer base and revenue through exporting. As time went on, Delaney noticed that many visitors to the site were women entrepreneurs with neither the time nor the money to spend on continuing education. Additionally, they requested in-person and real-time virtual programming. In June 2015, Delaney incorporated wegg as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and expanded its services so women anywhere with access to technology and the Internet could learn how to take their business global.
Today, the mission of wegg is to educate, inspire and nurture women business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide on how to go global so they can run healthier businesses and create a new future for themselves, their families and their community. Its vision is a world where every woman business owner has the opportunity and ability to take her business global wherever she lives.
wegg meets its mission and vision by providing women-owned SMEs worldwide with tuition-free online education that walks them through the practical aspects of exporting and provides them with concrete strategies for global entrepreneurship. Relying on sponsorships, small grants and individual gifts has enabled wegg to power its programming.
“Thanks to the Internet,” Delaney says, “even the smallest producer of goods and services can go global today. This allows for fast, breakthrough growth, provided a business owner has the know-how.”
Through an ever-expanding variety of virtual programming accessible at any time through its website, wegg provides that know-how for women business owners.
Make no mistake: wegg doesn’t just connect millions of women entrepreneurs to each other in the global marketplace. It gives each woman business owner the tools, skills, confidence and inspiration to run a healthier business. To date, wegg has helped more than 40,000 women business owners start and expand a business internationally. While a majority of wegg event participants are from the U.S., attendees have signed on from Belgium, India, Russia, Finland, France, Germany, Jordan, Ethiopia, South Africa, Sweden, Japan, and Canada.
To succeed in today’s economic climate — and beyond — it’s more essential than ever for women business owners to be informed and inspired to grow global. wegg is their resource.