The 1% Dilemma

A Letter to Corporates

Sincerely, All Women Owned Businesses 

Monday, March 20th was WEConnect International’s “International Day” at the WBENC Conference in Nashville, TN. As a shareholder of a women-owned and certified business, I was thrilled to attend and represent our global business, MESH Experience.

The mission of the event is to help connect Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) to corporate clients with the specific intent of increasing the amount of spend going to women-owned businesses. The event was filled with amazing speakers, incredibly inspiring stories, and many friends from across the globe. But I couldn’t help but stay stuck on a few data points:

  • Women make or influence 85% of all consumer purchasing decisions
  • Women are 50% of the world’s population
  • Women own 33% of all privately owned businesses

And yet…

Women-owned businesses earn less than 1% of corporate and government spend globally.

Let that sink in.

Women-owned businesses earn less than 1% of corporate and government spend globally. They also receive less than 2% of total venture capital funding all while generating 63% more value for investors and a 35% higher return on investment compared to all-male startups, according to an article I read from First Round Capital and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

While I was encouraged to hear many of the big, global corporations at the event discuss their intent and dedication to increase spend to women-owned businesses by 2025, (much like I’ve heard in years past) I couldn’t help but wonder how many women-owned businesses will have to close their doors over these next two years due to a lack of spend and funding.

I look at you, corporate partners, and ask why not NOW. You are losing out on partnerships that are delivering unparalleled results, that are revolutionizing industries, and who may be gone by the year 2025 due to a lack of spending and funding from you. It is not that women-owned businesses are incapable; it is that you are not taking chances on us. We are more than capable. We are more than ready.

To the global corporations that are making an effort to spend with women-owned businesses, I applaud you. Thank you for making an effort and making a difference. To the global corporations who are still holding out, or quite frankly making it next to impossible for smaller women and diverse owned businesses to work with you- take a chance and commit to your intentional statements NOW. We know we are incredibly capable business leaders; show us that you are capable of making a change today.

Thank you WEConnect International for championing this cause, as it is so important to many, including myself. I have never been prouder to be a certified women-owned business stakeholder than I am in this moment and time in my career. And like so many other WBEs, I am energized to keep climbing and fighting for all the Women Owned Businesses who are making a difference and providing exceptional products and services to the world.

Author: Dana DiGregorio - Global Managing Director

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