Lots have been said about the unique challenges women face starting their own businesses, yet women outstrip men almost 4x in starting companies around the US, being an essential contributor not only to local economies but also to social & community endeavors.  Yet, the theme comes up repeatedly from documentaries, to panels with female founders, to articles & podcasts about the hurdles women face in starting companies. I was recently on a panel discussion for Ellevate’s screening of the documentary “She Started it” which follows the course of a female founders navigating their start-ups through the tech industry discussing these national and international trends.   I then came across a few podcasts and articles that addressed how Canada has already been supporting women business owners. Here are a few common lessons the US can learn from other countries as we head into International Women’s Day:

Specifically support women in Tech: Support girls and women to learn about up-and-coming technology; build confidence that tech isn’t just for boys & men.  In order to do that however, we also need to create safe spaces for girls and women to feel comfortable asking questions without being minimized-a place to make mistakes and grow from those mistakes.  That creation of a safe space can take place in girls/women only groups, work areas, and changes in culture.  On a side note, my father is a retired professor of computer science and always noted that ladies were outstripping the men in his classes, hungry to learn and came out better coders.  However, I’m also fully aware that my father made a conscious effort to always listen and be an open, supportive advocate for the girls in his classes. Even though, I never went into the tech field like the rest of my brothers, my dad was one of my biggest advocates in life, always creating a safe space for me to ask questions about anything, without ever feeling belittled because I didn’t understand the lingo.  Some of the ladies my dad taught while abroad in the UAE are now the most sought after coders and programmers in all sectors of UAE’s growing business and government agencies! We need these advocates!

Funding: Canada is pumping $50 million in investments to help women led startups.  Moreover, 12.5% of partners of VC firms are run by women in Canada, compared to almost 7% here.  Both still very low, but the US is still lagging behind.

Social policies: Providing support for entrepreneurs and their families.  Women need access to affordable childcare, healthcare, paid maternity leave and especially a strong education system.  These are things that my local state of Arizona should take heed of. Entrepreneurs look for places that have strong social and educational foundations and networks to put their kids in.  These structures enable women to take risks to launch and lead their startups. It also gives the peace of mind to dedicate their time, money and energy into their businesses.

Finally, robust networks for women:  Having hubs under one roof to connect women entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals.  There is a case for creating that critical mass of people together to ignite synergy and movement. Women need a place where women entrepreneurs can help other women entrepreneurs.  This is why there is a rise in women co-working spaces across the globe!  Safe spaces to connect, collaborate, work, and lift each other along the way in a way that creates an atmosphere to enhance the synergies.

Hopefully, states across the US can begin learning from our neighbor up north to help support our local women business owners and our local economies and communities! #internationalwomensday #womeninbusiness #femalefounders #women #womenentrepreneurs #womenintech #wowab #safespace #learn #lead #lift #yesphx #phxx #phoenix

Here are the links to those podcasts/articles for more info:

http://betakit.com/startup-canada-podcast-chic-geek-founder-kylie-toh-on-building-a-community-for-female-entrepreneurs/

http://fortune.com/2017/02/22/ivanka-trump-tech-women-canada/