The Millions of High-Growth Women Entrepreneurs You Don’t Hear About
I have a question for you. Where in the world do you think these women work?
The founders and CEOs of: an architectural firm with multi-country business and acclaim, a nationally recognized PR firm, an animation company, a multi-country high-tech company, a mobile application development company, an online review site, a consulting firm, an event planning business, an eco-travel business, a gaming company, and a business that transforms antiquities into beautiful home furnishings.
If you guessed the United States, Europe, or Canada, you guessed incorrectly.
These women founders and CEOs are from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Russia. They represent a very small sampling of hundreds of women that I have had the immense privilege to meet, interview, and study as the founder of The Way Women Work.
This level of achievement among women in the developing and emerging markets may be surprising to some people given that the vast majority of images and stories about women in these countries show them as victims, oppressed, uneducated or struggling. Although we don’t hear nearly enough about them, my research indicates that there are millions of high-growth women entrepreneurs in emerging and developing economies.
My research indicates that there are millions of high-growth women entrepreneurs in emerging and developing economies.
My son’s generation is sometimes called the “first globals.” And although I was technically born at the tail-end of the baby boomer generation, I consider myself a global citizen. Originally from the Middle East, I grew up in the developing world. I have lived all over the Arab world as well as in England, Iran and India and have traveled extensively. I attended high school in Bahrain with students from 40 different countries. The girls (and boys) I went to school with were intelligent, confident and driven. I came to the United States at age 16 to attend university and grad school at Georgetown University where I continued to study with incredibly intelligent women and men from all over the world.
Like many entrepreneurs in developing countries, my professional experience started in the corporate sector. I had a wonderfully rewarding 16-year corporate career at Bank of America, and its predecessor banks contributing in a variety of capacities. Achieving results and with the right assignments mentors and sponsors, I attained a senior leadership position. In 1997, I left the corporate world to launch my own business. Over the next 15 years, I successfully built an executive business coaching, business consulting practice where I worked with and mentored men and women around the world.
Over time, I saw a gap and a great need. In my travels, research, and conversations, highly successful and aspiring business women around the world repeatedly told me that they didn’t have enough confidence, qualifications, mentors, sponsors, role models, networks, information, access and/or funding.
Highly successful and aspiring business women around the world repeatedly told me that they didn’t have enough confidence, qualifications, mentors, sponsors, role models, networks, information, access and/or funding.
So two years ago, I took another leap in business to create The Way Women Work, a free resource and the go-to place for women globally to seek and share business and career advice.
I’ve always been weary of the barrage of images and talk about obstacles and barriers women face because I’ve regularly seen women in emerging and developing countries (including myself) who overcome and work around obstacles to succeed. Yet we continually hear more about their obstacles than about business women who are succeeding and how they got there. This is why at Way Women Work, our approach is different. Our approach is : “They did it – so can you! And here’s how…”
At The Way Women Work we believe that when women share their successes, they inspire ALL women to succeed professionally. We:
- Focus on successes and workarounds, not obstacles
- Share women’s progress, not their plight
- Are driven by optimism, hope, confidence and equality
- Believe that women are heroes not victims
- Provide a place for self directed learning where women learn from and are inspired by the stories and advice of other women, virtual mentors and role models.
- Feature and celebrate women entrepreneurs, professionals, women in corporations and family businesses, women who are just starting out, women at the top, and women in the middle, from developing, emerging, and developed nations
- Introduce women globally to the organizations and resources that support and enable their success