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                                                                                 4th Quarter 2009
              Womenable E3 News
In This Issue
Womenable's Top Ten List
Our New Year Wish
The Top Womenabler Blogposts of 2009

RSS feed iconWomenable's most recent blogpost focuses on recent transitional events in women's enterprise in the UK, which leaves us musing about the need for more revolutionary action. Click on the following link to read, "Transition Time in UK for Women's Enterprise."

And, in case you missed them, here are the five most read Womenabler Blog posts of 2009:

Charlotte Bunch

"Feminism is an entire world view or gestalt,        not just a laundry list of women's issues."

 ~ Charlotte Bunch (1944 -  ), founding director,
Center for Women's Global Leadership,
Rutgers University
E3nabling News

It is typically our goal, in this quarterly newsletter, to provide a concise digest of news, information and links to 1: educate, 2: enlighten and 3: empower your work on behalf of nascent, new, established and growing women-owned enterprises around the world.

In this issue, with apologies to Dr. Bunch (see quote above), we offer a year-end view of the top ten womenabling (or unenabling) events/trends/news items of the year.
Womenable's Top Ten List of 2009
The most noteworthy events/trends of the year

Top TenIn a departure from our usual e-newsletter highlighting the latest womenabling news and providing womenablers everywhere with insights to educate, enlighten and empower your efforts, we thought we'd end the year by compiling what we see as the most interesting and relevant activities that have taken place in the field of women's enterprise development in 2009. Here - in no particular order - are what we see as the ten most noteworthy trends and events of the year:
  1. The feminization of US entrepreneurship policy? With a new administration and a new Congress in 2010, for the first time ever, four of the five key political figures in small business in the United States are women: SBA Administrator Karen Mills, Senate Small Business Committee Chair and Ranking Member Mary Landrieu and Olympia Snowe, and House Small Business Committee Chair Nydia Velazquez. Might that be one reason why, for the first time in years, there's been an increase in the budgets for the Women's Business Center program and the National Women's Business Council?
  2. The "male" recession. It's been referred to as a "man-cession," mostly because of the disproportionate impact it has had on manufacturing and other male-dominated sectors. (One could also say it was caused in large measure by testosterone-fueled behavior in the financial sector.) It remains to be seen, though, whether the recovery will lead to a return to "business as usual," or if some female common sense will start to be taken more seriously. Right now, it doesn't look good for the latter scenario.
  3. The growing case for investing in women's economic empowerment internationally: We're seeing more and more evidence coming to light showing a broader impact from and greater return on investment in women's enterprise development compared to gender-blind program support. Right now, the focus is on developing economies and micro-enterprise. Up-market ROI seems more elusive to capture.
  4. Glossy recognition for advances women have made in the workplace in developed economies: The Shriver Report, "A Woman's Nation" made a big splash this year by bringing some attention to the progress that women have made in the workforce in the US, largely in spite of lagging public policy. Ernst & Young has also published two glossy reports on women as "groundbreakers" and on the need for more women to "scale up" in business. While all are welcome additions to the knowledge base, women's entrepreneurship is largely missing from these discussions.
  5. Organizational implosions: Two organizations that have helped to make great strides for women-owned businesses, the Center for Women's Business Research in the US and Prowess in the UK, each imploded this year - with their founding directors (of 20 and 10 years, respectively) both leaving somewhat less than voluntarily. Here's hoping that these two valuable womenabling organizations will emerge stronger from their current states of limbo.
  6. Skål to women in Scandinavia: Yet again, when the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report and the UN's Gender Empowerment Measure and Human Development Index were published, Nordic countries came out on top, showing women in the region to be closer to men than in any other part of the world in terms of health, education, labor participation and political empowerment. Still, entrepreneurship rates for women lag behind those of men there and elsewhere around the globe, according to the annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reports.
  7. A new journal for women's enterprise: 2009 marked the official launch of a new academic journal focused on women's entrepreneurship issues, the International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship.
  8. A growing focus on people over profits: We've noticed more talk of social enterprise this year - businesses that exist to reach goals that go beyond the financial. Some of the sources of that increased attention may be coming from: the Ashoka Fellows program, now in its 28th year; the Skoll Foundation and its World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship; and a new "Social Enterprise Mark" for products and services offered by social enterprises in the UK. May it continue to spread in the new year.
  9. One size does not fit all: 2009 saw the launch of new or expanded women's business centers in Egypt, Pakistan, and Peru - and a promising effort in the UK to set standards for the essential elements of women-friendly and female-focused business support services (see wbcinternational.org). All efforts recognize that one size does indeed not fit all in terms of supporting enterprise development.
  10. Most noteworthy non-event: In this, the 10th year of the annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor series of reports on entrepreneurial activity, where was the annual report on women's enterprise? Missing in action! Let's hope that 2010 will see the resumption of this important analytical effort.
Our Wish for 2010

2010 on the beach
And what do we wish for the new year?
  1. A greater diversity in the faces and voices at the table when economic policies are being discussed and implemented;
  2. increased inclusion among thinkers at think-tanks; and
  3. more concrete collaboration among women's business organizations around the world.
To what end? Toward a sea change in our lexicon, in our way of describing the power and empowerment of entrepreneurship, the value of business creation, and the reasons why commerce is good for society. Womenable knows that women business owners approach business ownership differently, have broader goals for their businesses, and lead their enterprises in a much less hierarchical and less "zero sum game" manner compared to their male counterparts.

Perhaps given the economic tumult of the past year, the world can learn from the 'gestalt' of enterprising women, many of whom feel that:
  • bigger is not always better,
  • profits are not always paramount, and
  • growth is not a goal in and of itself but for what it can do for employees, families, communities, and society as a whole.
Womenable feels that if this more holistic approach to the role and impact of business in society were to gain greater currency, the world would not only be a more prosperous place, but more peaceful as well.
Happy holidays and best wishes for a womenabling 2010!
Julie R. Weeks