DWEN Explores Africa and Best Cities for Women Entrepreneurs

The countdown is on for the seventh annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Annual Summit (DWEN) — a global gathering of 150 of the top female entrepreneurs, business leaders, media and Dell partners that this year will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, June 27-28, 2016.

Cape Town was chosen this year because Africa has the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population, and is widely considered the world’s largest source of untapped talent.

Real business happens around the globe as a result of these events. For example:

  • Jacqueline Arias, Founder of Republica in Australia is now importing organic baby food to India as a result of connections made at DWEN New Delhi in 2012
  • Lili Hall of KNOCK, Inc., and Elisabete Miranda, of CQ fluency developed a mutually beneficial relationship. KNOCK developed the rebranding identity elements and strategic positioning for CQ fluency, and in turn, CQ fluency is the go-to resource for KNOCK for multicultural communications that are locally relevant as well as accurately translated.
  • Maria-Helena Pettersson, Partner at Ernst & Young Brazil, established a Winning Women program after making significant alliances at DWEN in Rio

This year we will also be discussing new research Dell conducted in partnership with IHS that will be announced on June 22 at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Palo Alto, California. This 2016 Women Entrepreneur Cities Index will measure a city’s ability to attract and support high-potential women entrepreneurs.

The 25 cities in the ranking were chosen from the list of 50 global cities in the Dell Future-Ready Economies (FRE) Model in order to make comparisons between the two indices, with geographic diversity utilized as key criteria in city selection.

This research began during the 2016 DWEN Future Ready Research Symposium chaired by Dr. David Ricketts from the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard. The research symposium brought together 40 Global thought leaders, women entrepreneurs, academics and media to develop insights for the model.

“By focusing on where change is happening, where it isn’t, and examining what interventions are working, we can facilitate even greater change,” Geri Stengel wrote in Forbes after the event.

Key takeaways from the conversations at the Symposium included:

  • Access to capital is still the No. 1 challenge that women entrepreneurs face, although the numbers are showing a slight improvement
  • Creating robust ecosystems with incubators, accelerators and mentors makes a world of difference for entrepreneurs—it’s all about the network
  • Cultural norms and their policy implications put serious binds on female entrepreneurs; everything from parental leave to supplier diversity regulations to financing for education have an impact

Ayanna Kai Morton (left), winner of the Seventeen Magazine STEM contest met Laura Brounstein (right), special projects director at Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Magazine, while attending the DWEN Youth Track last year.

At the 2016 DWEN Summit discussions will explore how women can grow and scale their businesses in tangible ways through networking, keynotes, panel discussions, interactive breakouts, workshops and community engagement.

“I’m not sure how much revenue the DWEN initiative generates,” Mandy Gilbert, founder and CEO of Creative Niche, commented last year. “But I can tell you that I’m involved with several global and local entrepreneurial events and conferences, and this is by far the most positive, meaningful and important network of which I’m a member.”

I like to think that is because DWEN is about more than revenue generation. It’s about Dell’s commitment to help power the success of entrepreneurs – by not only developing technology solutions, but also nurturing a community of female entrepreneurs.

Speakers this year will include:

To keep up with the conversation join me in following #DWEN on Twitter, and watch @DellInnovators for live updates. To learn more about DWEN visit here.

About the Author: Laura Pevehouse

Laura Pevehouse was profiled as one of five “social media mavens” in the March 2009 issue of Austin Woman Magazine and named an AdWeek’s TweetFreak Five to Follow. She has been part of the Dell organization for more than 15 years in various corporate communications, employee communications, public relations, community affairs, marketing, branding, social media and online communication roles. From 2014-2018, Laura was Chief Blogger/Editor-in-Chief for Direct2DellEMC and Direct2Dell, Dell’s official corporate blog that she help launch in 2007. She is now a member of the Dell Technologies Chairman Communications team. Earlier in her Dell career she focused on Global Commercial Channels and US Small and Medium Business public relations as part of the Global Communications team. Prior to that, she was responsible for global strategy in social media and community management, as well as marcom landing pages, as a member of Dell’s Global SMB Marketing, Brand and Creative team. When she was part of Dell’s Global Online group, Laura provided internal consulting that integrated online and social media opportunities with a focus on Corporate Communications and Investor Relations. She managed the home page of Dell.com, one of the top 500 global web sites in Alexa traffic rank, and first brought web feeds and podcasts to the ecommerce site. In her spare time she led Dell into the metaverse with the creation of Dell Island in the virtual world Second Life. Laura has earned the designation of Accredited Business Communicator from the International Association of Business Communicators, and received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Louisiana State University. Before joining Dell Financial Services in 2000, she worked at the Texas Workforce Commission and PepsiCo Food Systems Worldwide.