Starting a business requires more than just a great idea and will to succeed.
It takes connections, support, mentors, help, more connections, more support, more mentors, more help, and lots of money … rinse, repeat.
Just like you wouldn’t climb Mount Everest without a Sherpa and a backpack, you wouldn’t climb the mountain of entrepreneurship without investments and additional guides.
Unfortunately, there’s one other thing that seems to really help when seeking guides and starting a start–up business: Being a dude.
For example, digital startups founded by men are 87% more likely to be funded by venture capitalists and 58% more likely to be funded by angel investors, compared with female-founded startups.
The process of finding guides, making the relationships that pave the way for funding and advice when you need it most is not really working the way it could for ladies.
According to a report by the Kauffman Foundation, of nearly 350 female CEOs, presidents and leading technologists of tech startups in the U.S., almost half reported that “a lack of available mentors” was one of the top challenges they faced with their enterprises.
So question is how do you set a goal to create female mentors for women? And how do you achieve it?
It’s all about knowing a few key people and then strategically bringing them together. In an email to Upworthy, Romero puts it frankly: “Athena gives our members access to the skills and knowledge that small businesses and startups often don’t have — and more importantly collaboration and support.”
On top of that, Facebook allows women, particularly in remote areas, an opportunity to connect. As Romero mentioned: “Facebook is one of the most powerful platforms for community building and, of course, connecting people. Especially when you want to connect with people from all walks of life and in remote places. I’m in the Philippines right now, staying in a rural town where people still pump water and cook on wood fires yet almost everyone and everything is on Facebook. That’s pretty incredible.”
With in-person mentorship plus Facebook, the benefits of explicitly forming female mentorship relationships just take off!
Organizations that are intentional about bringing people (especially women) together create opportunities for development, training, media training, and so much more.
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Listening to Elyse Anne, a personal finance consultant and member of The Athena Network Singapore, describe its benefits, it’s clear this stuff is valuable. “When I joined Athena my goal was to get more media coverage and I closed about $10k in sales in the first year thanks to media coverage. I was able to raise my profile and increase my rates to charge what actually I’m worth.”
Organizations like The Athena Network are very important. They give female entrepreneurs the opportunity to share learnings, create their own networks and “collaborate for mutual success.”
Currently Romero’s trying to change things in Asia, but the lack of female mentors is international. Of 320 women from 19 countries and 30 businesses, a whopping 65% had never had a mentor. While 67% of that same group listed mentorship as one of their most important priorities.
What’s really interesting is that 65% of women who have been mentored go on to become female mentors themselves, according to a Catalyst survey.
Romero is 100% an example of that. As she told Upworthy, “My calling is to connect people. Connecting people in a meaningful way can be very dominant.”
Being aware that this problem exists is the first step. Creating more opportunities for female entrepreneurs and more opportunities for mentorship is the next.