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Stories from the Innovation Quarter

Why Winston-Salem and Women Entrepreneurs Make Good Partners

The demographics of entrepreneurship are changing. More and more, women are taking the lead.

There are over 11 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., a number that has increased by 45 percent over the past nine years. Over that same span, the number of women-owned businesses has grown five times faster than the national average.

And Winston-Salem’s entrepreneurship scene is getting in on the act. Held in locations across the Innovation Quarter, programs like the Forsyth Tech Small Business Center’s Women 2 Women Business Partnerships—conversational sessions on the challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs—demonstrate a growing desire and need among women entrepreneurs to connect, learn and advance their business acumen.

Arising from the conversations at these meetings, it is clear that Winston-Salem offers two valuable assets that can help female business owners thrive.

Access to Expertise
Winston-Salem is full of successful women who have owned and operated businesses, and these entrepreneurs want to share what they’ve learned. Events like Women 2 Women provide access to these leaders who offer expertise in a range of topics, such as managing clients, developing product lines and creating marketing strategies.

And it’s not just the leaders who provide value to other women entrepreneurs. Among the women participating in Women 2 Women, a wide variety of backgrounds, such as fashion, business consulting, microbiology and identity monitoring, and expertise, from successful startup owners to entrepreneurs just starting out, are represented. The conversational format of the meetings creates an environment where participants are both teacher and student.

Gatherings like Women 2 Women exemplify a culture of collaboration in Winston-Salem. A community that fosters entrepreneurship provides women with the opportunities to interact and to build the social support their businesses need.

Access to Resources
Winston-Salem’s growing innovation economy creates access to expanding resources that provide the programming and financial support that women entrepreneurs need to launch and sustain their businesses, including workshops, accelerators and investments. Representatives from many of these resources attend events like Women 2 Women to ensure women entrepreneurs in Winston-Salem take advantage of these opportunities.

Located at Flywheel Coworking, innovateHER, a nonprofit initiative launched to empower local women, created a weekend startup workshop on July 15-16 specifically aimed at women-owned businesses. Other local organizations, such as the Center for Creative Economy, an advocacy organization for creative industries and entrepreneurs, offers additional programming for women to learn and grow. And entities like the Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, dedicated to building a community of female philanthropists who fight for social issues impacting women, provide funding for women with startup aspirations.

As women-owned businesses continue to increase, Winston-Salem and groups within the Innovation Quarter are providing the resources and networking needed to help women plug into the community and reach out to each other.

by Jessica Brown