Reuters: Marking The First-ever Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

November 19th marks the launch of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, a global movement to celebrate, empower and support women entrepreneurs worldwide. In an interview with Wendy Diamond, founder and CEO of the initiative, we discussed the origins and inspiration behind the movement, why women’s entrepreneurship is a powerful force for global change, and much more.

Tell me a little bit about the original idea of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. How did it come about and what inspired you to realize this vision?

Since 1999, I’ve been a female entrepreneur and woman spearheading in small businesses. I personally encountered the many challenges that women deal with daily in the business world.

My animal advocacy work started when I learned over 12 million animals were euthanized a year in the US. I launched Animal Fair Media in 1999, a pet lifestyle media company that brought pop culture and celebrities (Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Renee Zellweger, Halle Berry, Ellen DeGeneres) to the animal welfare world.

The number of animals has dropped to 5 million per year. I know the true meaning of being a startup entrepreneur and making a difference in the world!

I have dedicated my whole life and career to helping the underdog. Historically, women worldwide have been underdogs: underpaid, undervalued, underrepresented, underfunded, and underestimated. I’m dedicated, determined, and driven to this change this current state of affairs. The women entrepreneurs involved in WED are inspirational role models for women and girls globally.

Why is women’s entrepreneurship, in particular, a powerful force for global change?

From my constant research and thirst to learn more, I discovered that when women are provided economic empowerment they outspend men on their family’s health, nutrition, and education by threefold: 90% women to 30% men. Together as a global community we can make the planet a better place.  It’s a win-win locally and globally!

Also, According to the World Economic Forum Gender Gap report, the U.S. has experienced 11 percent growth over the last 40 years as a direct result of the increased participation of women, which has translated into $3.5 trillion. Investing in women promotes economic and social development as women reinvest in their communities and homes. The number of $10-million-plus women-owned firms increased by 57 percent — a growth rate nearly 50% more than $10-million-plus firms overall — and grew more than 40% from the previous year, according to the Center of Venture Research.

One of my main focal points is to empower women worldwide and create a movement where people will invest in their futures, ultimately driving and promoting economic vitality and security locally and globally. It should be noted that Twenty-first-century leadership skills, such as cooperation, communication, and sharing are more commonly associated with women. I want to inspire other to celebrate the unwavering positives that women entrepreneurs bring to the global economy as well as inspire and support next generations of women entrepreneurs.

What are some ways in which we can empower women entrepreneurs, both in the Western world and the developing world?

On a Honduras trip last year I spent time with an organization that gives microcredit to locally impoverished women.  I witnessed firsthand how these beneficial startup loans empowered Honduran women, benefited their families, and provided the opportunity for their children to attend school. My trip was also an inspirational point when deciding to launch WED to empower women and girls globally.

I have traveled the world and been to developing countries such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The fact that there are 250 million girls living in poverty globally is unacceptable. I found the developing world and women are financially poorer but rich in spirit, creativity, and will. They just need direction, mentors, and startup help. These women seek success and a positive change but don’t have the knowledge or financial resources that their Western female counterparts to get started.

I knew that if we created a grassroots movement of women such as WED, who support women worldwide and are ready to activate their local communities, we had a real chance of making a lasting difference for women and girls. WED ambassadors from all over the globe are highly enthused to get involved; from Princess Reema in Saudi Arabia, to the women who created the largest employment agency in China to college students from Barnard, Harvard and Oxford have joined the movement.

How can businesses, civil society, foundations and other organizations participate and support this movement?

We are proud to have PWC as out leading worldwide sponsor, and their support has been instrumental with making the WED initiative a reality. PWC is impressive as a global leader and business example; they actively hire and promote women within their company to prominent decision making positions.

Businesses and individuals can join us with our WED & #WOW initiatives. Just like Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday initiatives that drive millions in awareness and dollars to the groups that are associated, the launch of WOW, Women on Wednesday (#womenWOW), will be activated through a network of companies in connection to the launch of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on November 19th at the UN.

We are also creating social media campaigns and a media outlet countdown leading up to and on WED to drive awareness, traffic, and support to the initiative. Please post, share, email, and help us get the word out and make a global difference. The world can certainly use a positive shift through helping women and girls!

Wendy Diamond is Founder and CEO of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.


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