Gender Smart | July 24, 2018

How Singapore, Austin, Mexico City and other cities are tapping the talent of women entrepreneurs

Dennis Price
ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Women’s entrepreneurship rates were up 13% last year. Already in the first half of this year, U.S. women-founded and -co-founded startups are on pace to raise more venture capital than last year.

Yet “access to capital and technology, as well as cultural and political barriers, continue to limit the success of women-owned businesses,” says Dell’s Karen Quintos.

New York, San Francisco, London, Boston and Stockholm ranked atop last year’s Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities Index, a ranking of 50 cities on their ability to attract and support women entrepreneurs. This year Dell went deeper, providing blueprints for how 10 cities could foster high-potential women entrepreneurs. For example:

  • In Singapore, ranked No. 8, more venture capital funds flow to businesses with at least 25% female executives than in most cities. It’s a relatively safe city, provides paid maternity leave and at 72%, has the third-highest female labor force participation rates (only behind Beijing and Shanghai). Singapore’s commitment to meritocracy, however, limits the kind of positive discrimination that could help women-owned businesses. More flexible work practices could help women take on leadership roles.
  • Austin, which ranked 15th, deserves its rep as a technologically progressive city. It gets high scores for women’s proficiency in digital skills and organizations training women on tech. While the Texas capital has also burnished a rep as an emerging hub for entrepreneurship, this hasn’t yet translated to equitable opportunities for women. Austin needs more organizations like Women@Austin promoting women’s business leadership and mentorship, according to Dell’s blueprint. Austin could also follow cities like London and guarantee paid maternity leave for women entrepreneurs.
  • Mexico City, coming in 45th, scored the highest of all cities in female-owned startups as a percent of startups in the city. A relatively low cost of living also benefits women entrepreneurs, though high crime rates and violence against women do not. Venture capital funding has not followed women’s participation in entrepreneurship; only 12% of funded startups have a women on their founding team. Some funds, according to the blueprint, including Jaguar Ventures (40%), Auria Capital (33%), ALL VP (29%), and Variv Capital (27%) invest in women at higher rates than their peers.