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7 Ways To Support Female Entrepreneurs Affected By The Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has affected us all, but some more than others. Women, and especially female entrepreneurs, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The hardest-hit service industries, such as the tourism, travel and transport, retail, and food industries, are more likely to have companies that predominantly hire or are run by women. Meanwhile, the tech sector, which has long been an area dominated by men, has received a massive boost.

Furthermore, studies show that women are more likely to have a caretaker role in their families, meaning that child care duties mostly fall in the hands of mothers and grandmothers. With ever-changing school schedules and virtual classroom requirements, female entrepreneurs with children are struggling to survive the pandemic and still put in the hours necessary to run a successful business. Making matters worse is the fact that only 3 percent of business investments have gone into businesses run by women since the pandemic began.

In this article, we will discuss seven ways in which we can help female entrepreneurs as they navigate this crisis. Some of our suggestions are applicable to anyone reading this article, whereas others refer to specific government programs we should consider supporting or advocating for locally. 

 

1. Support women-owned service companies

One of the reasons women were so adversely affected by this pandemic is because many of them work in the service-related industries that were among the hardest hit.

Although you may not be going out at the moment, now is a great time to educate yourself on who the business owners of your community are. That restaurant you’ve always been meaning to try out may be owned by a local female entrepreneur. Considering ordering takeout one night or buying gift cards to use later or to give to family and friends as holiday presents. 

If you have a trip planned, instead of canceling it consider rescheduling or accepting your refund in terms of credit for a future trip. When shopping, instead of ordering everything online via Amazon, consider checking out your local boutiques and stores and seeing if they offer delivery or pickup. 

 

2. Donate to causes that educate girls about STEM and help female startups learn about tech

Unfortunately, there is a huge gender gap in the tech industry. Donating your time or money to causes that educate girls about STEM or help female-owned startups learn about tech is a great way to help eradicate this. Consider teaming up with organizations like Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code to host a program in your community. Women Who Tech is an organization that can help you connect with other females in the tech industry, whether it’s simply to network, or to find business partners or potential companies to invest in. 

A study conducted by BrainStation in the fall of 2020 found that 89 percent of business professionals agree that improved data skills among employees would help improve success at their organization. By encouraging female entrepreneurs in data-driven, tech startups, you can lay the groundwork for future careers for men and women alike.

 

3. Place women in decision-making processes

Although this doesn’t directly support female entrepreneurs specifically, promoting and encouraging the professional growth of female colleagues will go a long way in fostering equality. A female director of operations, for example, may be more likely to choose female vendors and services. 

Women in positions of power are the best resources for female entrepreneurs, both of whom generally want to see the other succeed in a male-dominated world. Women in decision-making processes can help mentor and inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs. 

 

4. Support grants that favor female startups

Consider supporting grants and funding that specifically help women-owned businesses. If the grant is a government grant, consider writing to your legal representative or local politician to voice your opinion that there should be more grants geared specifically to women, and why. If the grant is a private one, consider donating to the organization that handles the money or, if you have the resources, start your own grant. You can pitch the grant to potential investors or crowdsource the funds. 

The European Union, for example, has a variety of grants available to small businesses and startups, and many of them are geared specifically toward women. Educate yourself about the available grants for female-owned businesses and help spread the word. 

 

5. Increase investor community contribution 

Did you know that only 3 percent of the Venture Capital workforce is female? This is especially problematic when considering that VC funds are often the driving factor behind a startup’s success. 

If you work in VC, think about how your company can increase gender equality in the workplace. If you don’t work in the industry, realize that your financial support may be even more appreciated by a woman-owned business which may not have access or familiarity with venture capital. 

 

6. Understand that child care usually falls on women

Your go-to consultant may be a little less available than she was before, or the female-owned company you contracted with might have to change their usual schedule because child care duties have increased. Try (within reason) to be accommodating of this, and understand that child care falls mostly on women. 

A recent study showed that while 37 percent of Fintech employees are women, only 19 percent find themselves in the C-suite. While there are many theories about this, many feel that women just don’t have the work/life balance permitting a job in a highly demanding role with long hours. Try to be flexible, when possible, when faced with child care related issues among the female-owned companies, consultants and vendors you work with. 

 

7. Even out the imbalance

The good news is that this can start from your own home. Try to think of the women you know who may have had their work negatively affected by increasing child care duties. Offer to help with babysitting, cleaning or other household errands, if you can. By doing this, you can give working women valuable time in which they can focus on improving their work performance, their careers or even plot the next move for their new business.

 

Conclusion

Generally, an unexpected calamity tends to hurt the marginalized more than the people in power. That’s why it’s not surprising that the coronavirus pandemic, with the stringent government lockdowns and their corresponding ripple effects, negatively affected women far more than it did men. 

There is a lot we can do to support female entrepreneurs, who are already struggling in a male-dominated world. The first thing you can do is be aware and educate yourself about the problems they face. The next is to take action and actively support female-owned businesses and the organizations that empower them.