By Editor of SocialBusiness.org
As previously discussed at length in a few blog posts this month, for instance, in posts called “For us, buy us: women, consumerism and social change” and “Women in social entrepreneurship,” the role of women in business can be an interesting one. Here, I decided to shed light on a few organizations that focus on young women, technology and business. Here are three gender-focused business incubators, networks and support groups mainly directed at young women: 1) Girls Who Code Ah, “Girls Who Code.” Even the name in itself sounds a bit cutting-edge, right? And maybe that’s a sad thing to say in itself. Much like the trend today in social entreprises, non-profits alike, Girls Who Code describes itself as a “movement.” But if we look beyond the trendy buzz language prominent in the giving world, it’s a simple idea that works to counter the fact that a minuscule percentage of women head fortunate 500 companies. “Girls Who Code is a new organization working to educate, inspire and equip 13- to 17-year-old girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in technology and engineering,” the website writes. 2) Young Female Entrepreneurs Young Female Entrepreneurs is similar to Girls Who Code but it’s for an older crowd, that is, twenty- and thirty-somethings. It’s also more comprehensive in that it’s like a social network for young women who are starting and have started businesses of their own. They offer support, Twitter chats, blog posts, podcasts and live streams. But they’re not only online; IRL meet-ups are also key to the collaborative feeling. Lately the organization has received a bunch of good press. “Everything that Young Female Entrepreneurs does online is utilizing technology that young women already use,” Director Jennifer Donogh told Fast Co Exist. “It’s not crazy to ask them to jump onto Twitter, they’re already there. We have a topic, the YFE Twitter handle moderates the questions, and people connect and say, ‘Hey, we have similar interests, similar goals, and our businesses are serving similar audiences, let’s do some sort of joint venture.’” 3) WESST Enterprise Center WESST occupies an interesting position because it’s been around for over twenty years (since 1988) and thus didn’t necessarily use the language of “social entrepreneurship” to define itself an its goals. Here’s how the non-profit organization describes some of its work:
Over a period that spans two decades, WESST has assisted a diverse roster of clients at every stage of business. Historically, we have focused on transforming people’s lives and creating a pathway out of poverty by helping low-income women and minorities achieve financial self-sufficiency through sustained self-employment. WESST is distinguished in New Mexico as the only organization offering long-term, comprehensive training, technical assistance and loans specifically targeted to low-income women and minorities.
According to CNN Money, entrepreneurship in New Mexico has flourished because of a lack of high paid jobs in the area. All three of these organizations—Girls Who Code, Young Women Entrepreneurs and Enterprise Center—are responding to a similar need even if they’re responding to it in creatively different ways.