Join the Global Dialogue on Advancing Women Entrepreneurs

Globally, entrepreneurial businesses account for roughly 70 percent of job creation and, in some emerging markets, more than 90 percent, according to Endeavor. Yet many countries don’t have legal, institutional and political conditions for entrepreneur-led businesses to scale and thrive. And there is one group of entrepreneurs who are acutely disadvantaged – women.

Infographic on Barriers to Female Entrepreneurship across the globeEarlier this summer at our Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network annual gathering in Austin, we announced the results of the second annual Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (Gender-GEDI), an index for the development of worldwide high impact female entrepreneurship. What we found is that the fundamental conditions to develop female entrepreneurship are lacking in 75 percent of countries surveyed. So what do we do about it?  

Last week, I was thrilled to join Kathy Calvin, president and CEO of the UN Foundation, Elizabeth Nyamayaro, executive director of UN Women, and Ruta Aidis, vice president of research at the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI) Institute in Washington D.C. to begin a global dialogue on what the public and private sectors can do to break down the barriers for women entrepreneurs worldwide.  You can learn more about what we covered in this excellent US News & World report article by Katherine Peralta, who joined us at the event and spent time with Ruta and me discussing the issues.

At the session, we were joined by Jamille Bigio, director for Human Rights and Gender at the National Security Council at the White House, along with Liz Allen from the U.S. State Department, Erin Andrew from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and a host of media, NGOs, government representatives and corporations who, like Dell, have a strong commitment in this space.

While we all agreed that our Gender-GEDI research demonstrates the economic imperative to invest in women entrepreneurs, we also recognize that we need to focus on sustainable actions in order to close the opportunity gap for women. It takes collaboration and hard work. The public sector must work to make global policies friendlier to women entrepreneurs. The private sector – companies like Dell and our global peers – must play our part in giving women entrepreneurs access to technology, networks, capital and other skills to further their economic progress. This is the main reason we founded the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network in 2010.

At the end of a highly-interactive discussion, we came away with some actionable next steps, particularly around sustaining the collaboration we started, and a renewed sense of purpose for finding workable solutions to the issues raised by our research.  We invite you to share your ideas here around the kinds of policies and actions you think we need to implement in order to make significant, sustainable change. 

At Dell, in addition to our women’s entrepreneur network and investment in the Gender-GEDI Index, we are investing in tomorrow’s leaders through Youth Learning partnerships with organizations like Girl Scouts and GirlStart, and spend more than $4B a year with diverse suppliers worldwide. But, we know it can’t stop here – there is more to be done. Along with the UN Foundation, Gender-GEDI and partners like Intel, we’re focused on keeping this important dialogue going and finding real solutions to help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses globally.

To quote Elizabeth Nyamayaro: “The world had better watch out!”  I look forward to your ideas – let’s keep the dialogue going. Also join the conversation on Twitter using #DWEN or our LinkedIn group here.

Left to right: Ruta Aidis, VP of Research, Gender-GEDI Institute; Kathy Calvin, President and CEO, UN Foundation; Karen Quintos, SVP and CMO, Dell; Jamille Bigio, Director, Human Rights and Gender, White House National Security Council Staff; Elizabeth Nyamayaro, Senior Advisor to Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women   

About the Author: Karen Quintos

Karen Quintos is Dell’s first Chief Customer Officer (CCO), leading a global organization devoted to customer advocacy. Under Karen’s leadership, the CCO organization defines and develops Dell’s customer experience strategy and programs, with the goals of maximizing customer satisfaction, acquisition, retention and profitability. Karen is also responsible for Dell’s strategy and programs for Corporate Social Responsibility, Diversity & Inclusion and Entrepreneurship — business imperatives she is passionate about and that matter to our customers and team members around the world. Previously at Dell, Karen served as senior vice president and Chief Marketing Officer; vice president of Public Sector Marketing and North America Commercial; and she also held executive roles in services, support and supply chain management. Karen joined Dell in 2000 from Citigroup, where she was vice president of Global Operations and Technology. She spent 12 years with Merck in marketing, operations and supply chain leadership positions. Karen earned a master’s degree in marketing and international business from New York University, and a Bachelor of Science in supply chain management from Pennsylvania State University. She is on the board of Lennox International and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She is also on the board of Penn State's Smeal College of Business, and a 2014 recipient of its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award. Karen was listed among the most influential CMOs in the world by Forbes, and named 'Mother of the Year' by Working Mother magazine. She resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three children.