Women in Entrepreneurship – A Multi-Regional Project

The Women in Entrepreneurship MRP during their opening in Washington, DC with the Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Marie Royce

This 3-week International Visitor Leadership exchange sponsored by the U.S. Department of State illustrated the impact of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and explored the progress of women’s participation in the global economy.  53 Participants from 53 different countries visited private companies, business incubators, financial institutions, schools, and mentoring networks.  As they traveled across the United States in thematic sub-groups, they looked at the social, economic, and political factors that influence and encourage women as entrepreneurs and owners or managers of small, medium, and large-scale businesses.  They examined leadership development, job creation, access to capital, marketing, education, and innovations that encourage entrepreneurship in the U.S. and they studied incentives for entrepreneurship offered at the federal, state, and local levels of government. 

The project both began and ended in Washington DC. In between, the group split into four thematic sub-groups for travel to 10 separate cities. The four sub-groups focused on:  Social Entrepreneurship; Education and Training for Entrepreneurs; Leadership and Management; and Tech Entrepreneurship and Startups. The program included lectures, workshops and keynotes, expert panels, and guided tours. In addition, the international participants had a chance to meet with young people, volunteer alongside U.S. Americans, participate in networking receptions and home hospitality dinners.  

In Washington, the full group enjoyed kicking off their program with a fast-paced roundtable dialogue with experts assembled by the U.S. Small Business Administration. After three days, they split into their thematic teams to travel throughout the U.S. 

For half of the group, highlights included a visit to the National Entrepreneurship Center and a dialogue series in Orlando Florida; a discussion with CincyTech in Cincinnati about regional support for tech entrepreneurs; a meeting with students and faculty from UNH’s Center for Venture Research in Manchester; a conversation on access to capital at the Capital Factory in Dallas; and a networking event with local businesswomen hosted at a woman-owned brewery in Charlotte. 

For the other half of the group, highlights included, a day of “Fast Trac” training at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City; a site visit to the Louisiana State University Innovation Park in Baton Rouge; dialogue at  Philadelphia’s Tech Girlz, which is working to build women’s leadership in traditionally male-dominated fields; a site visit to Women in Kind, an innovative co-working space designed by and for women in Denver; a roundtable on effective mentoring and networking strategies with the Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast in Pensacola.

Upon reuniting in Washington, the group appreciated the opportunity to present their expertise as part of the Women in Entrepreneurship “Mini University,” with program participants providing brief talks on topics ranging from Lean Start Up methodology to the importance of intersectionality in women’s empowerment. 

Overall, the group made strong connections with their U.S.-based interlocutors and the incredible global network of women entrepreneurs traveling on the project. There are many plans to continue the conversations and collaborations started here, including international mentoring initiatives, resource sharing, and collecting stories from the inspiring women of the program. Stay tuned!  

Project Photos

Sponsors and Partners

U.S. Department of State
International Visitor Leadership Program, U.S. Department of State
Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council
New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council
Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia
World Affairs Council of Central Florida
World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth
International House of Metrolina
World Affairs Council of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky
World Affairs Council of New Hampshire
Global Ties Kansas City

Project summary