For the third year, the Small Business Administration is offering a nationwide business competition that focuses on empowering more women in investment and innovation.
2007InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge, aims to drive attention and resources to innovative products and services that make lives easier and longer. Competitors vie for $70,000 in prize money provided to the SBA through a gift from the Sara Blakely Foundation. Blakely is the founder of Spanx and her foundation focuses on empowering underserved women and girls.
“Women represent half of the U.S. workforce and control 80 percent of the nation’s purchasing power, but still make up less than five percent of venture capitalists,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. She said this competition addresses that opportunity gap.
The number of women venture capital partners has dropped from 10 percent in 1999 to just six percent in 2014, a trend directly correlated to women’s access to capital, according to the SBA. Only about seven percent of venture capital funding in the United States currently goes to women-owned ventures.
InnovateHER competitions begin this winter with local competitions hosted by universities, accelerators, SBA resource partners and other economic development organizations. Winners in local competitions will advance to the semi-final round. From that round, SBA will select up to 10 finalists who will be invited to a national challenge where they will pitch their products and ideas to a panel of expert judges.
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