Denver’s female entrepreneurs have a new resource at their fingertips. The Women’s College of the University of Denver is unveiling a Center for the Advancement of Business Leadership and Entrepreneurship for Women (ABLE for short).
Some facts that highlight the need for the center:
- Despite growth in female-owned business (18.4% from 17.9% in the past year) they are much more likely to fail than their male counterparts.
- A 2002-2006 study (run by the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy) analyzing the survival rate of new businesses found that only 66% of women-owned business came out of the four year period in comparison with 72% of businesses owned by men.
The reason behind this discrepancy? Jeanne Callahan, the center’s newly appointed director, points to access to funding. “I find that men have these networks they’ve developed through business or social contacts that give them more connections to lenders and investors.” Women on the other hand cultivate networks “more geared to family or social issues.”
In order to begin to remedy this cultural difference, the Women’s College introduced an Entrepreneurial Studies Certificate with classes focusing on entrepreneurial theories and models as well as providing instruction on developing business plans and managing a new venture. ABLE was the final result of these first entrepreneurial steps. The center will offer mentoring, workshops, funding opportunities, and an angel investment fund for female led start-ups.
Callahan’s personal and professional background could well serve as an inspiration success story for the center’s new entrepreneurial recruits. Moving out west with a M.B.A from Columbia Business School in New York, she worked as a sales and strategy analyst with Walt Disney Co. When her apartment was destroyed in the Northridge earthquake of 1994, Callahan transformed disaster into opportunity by relocating to Colorado and starting a landscape company with her brother. This company ultimately became Avalon Development, which Callahan now runs, along with Chris Kopp Bicycle Works, a custom bicycle shop she owns with her husband. She cites the thrill of making her own business decisions and being held accountable for them as the impetus behind her entrepreneurial drive.
“That’s the level of confidence and empowerment I’d love to impart to other women through mentoring groups and my own experience.
Renee Leck is a resident blogger for Embarkability. She enjoys yoga, cooking, and curling up on the couch with a cup of coffee and a good book.