Business: Supporting Female Entrepreneurs

December 2013

Colorado is wonderful for female business owners and workers, right?

After all, the state has a strong chamber of commerce and a higher percentage of women-owned business than the national average. But as we reported in December’s “The Colorado Woman,” there’s a massive wage gap between the genders (in the metro area, women make $.85 on the dollar compared to men). In addition, women-owned businesses still hover just under a third of all businesses. It seems obvious: There’s a need to support women and their entrepreneurial endeavors in our home state. 

It's exactly what brought Amy Scerra and Steve Haase of Think Global Institute to Colorado. After years of work with women entrepreneurs internationally, the couple-turned-business partners decided to bring their global program full circle—and they’re starting in Denver.

The nonprofit hosts a 12-week “business accelerator” program for women entrepreneurs who have “hit a roadblock or hurdle,” says Scerra. After working with more than 250 women in 26 countries, she says across the board, they have trouble securing the funds and support they need.

Finding Coloradan entrepreneurs here and there is no problem, says Scerra. But finding a community of women-owned businesses is more difficult. It’s not that there aren’t support programs—a quick Google search will tell you otherwise—it’s that they aren’t connected. “There are many, but they don't talk to each other,” says Scerra. “It’s sort of this underground, disjointed group of business owners. They don’t have a platform to say, ‘We’re women entrepreneurs.’”

Global Think Institute hopes to provide this platform and to help women entrepreneurs on an individual basis. The program is part hands-on mentorship, part handbook, and part virtual support. A team of advisors works one-on-one inside each business and with each business owner.

Even after the program is over, Scerra says, they are available “indefinitely,” for any questions or concerns the participants may have. “We give them a literal instruction manual, that says these are the things you need to fix and opportunities that we see for you, such as partnerships possibilities, strategic plans, etc., so they’re not left hanging,” Scerra says.  

One aspect that doesn’t vary country to country is the entrepreneurial spirit. "Every woman has reasons she started her business,” Scerra says. “It's amazing how you can see the tenacity and courage across the board.”

ACT NOW: Know someone? Read the qualifications, fill out the application, or send it to a friend. Think Global Institute has extended their application deadline for Denver female entrepreneurs to February 1. (They also take applications for mentors year-round.)