WIPE is NOT about empowering women. WIPE is about making the business case for women. Providing an unparalleled access to networks and resources that foster women entrepreneurship.
Radically Yours, as part of the WIPE initiative, interviewed and continues to interview leading women investors and founders across the globe. Our interactions revealed the challenges women entrepreneurs faced. Given the same expertise, a man might rate himself higher for ex 9/10, while a woman will rate herself as 6/10. That aggressiveness helps in pitches and the conservatism, in general, could tend to be counterintuitive when pitching to investors. There is a morbid apprehension to invest in solely woman founded enterprises. The conservatism also tends to take women on the path of self-doubt. In most cases, women tend to stay silent, or silently accept negative feedback or criticism as legitimate feedback, as against men which are more likely to counter such criticism.
The innate masculine aggression on the other hand galvanises higher projections and possibly makes for a better investor pitch – an area where women sometimes tend to hold back given their proclivity to be conservative. Even though that conservativeness leads to long term orientation, focus on cashflows, apprehension to leverage – making businesses more sustainable and well governed improving the overall returns on equity.
One critical area is lack of women centric networks. As per a recent HBR report, measures to encourage women entrepreneurship are focused only on giving financial capital and human capital. Yet, one of the most important reason for the gender gap is the lack access to networks by women. Research by several groups including the Asia Foundation revealed that peer-to-peer networks encourage women to set higher aspirations for their businesses, plan for growth, and embrace innovation.
WIPE is not just about up-skilling women founders. We also seek to bring about a systemic change in those that write investment checks. Women centric investment funds are increasing, yet often seen as an inclusivity measure or an ‘impact investment’. We are against the very idea. We want to share real stories with real data to allay unconscious biases against women founded businesses; to prove that women businesses are equally, if not more, successful than men founded businesses; to establish that sustained well governed businesses could be better than short-term high growth businesses. We have spoken to, and continue to speak to, hundreds of global women centric investment funds and women investors. Their success stories will help create many more.