More than 126 million female entrepreneurs are now active worldwide. Although the statistic sounds promising, Babson College discovered there was one catch.
According to a recent report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, co-sponsored by Babson, “there are fewer women than men starting and running new businesses, but there are even fewer running mature ones.” To Babson Professor Donna Kelley, lead author of the report, the news raised “a red flag about the ability of women to easily transition from starting to sustaining their businesses.”
The College is now building a bridge, however. Babson announced Monday the launch of its Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab. The first-of-its-kind business accelerator is focused on fueling the success of female entrepreneurs, whether undergraduates, graduates or alumnae of the institution.
The WIN Lab was developed by Babson’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership in partnership with serial entrepreneur Sharon Kan, the co-founder of online community Tikatok, which was acquired by Barnes and Noble in 2009. Through the Lab, women will be given the road map, expertise, inspiration and community necessary to achieve their goals.
“More can and must be done to help women further grow their businesses,” said Babson President Kerry Healey in a statement. “Babson’s WIN Lab is designed to do just that.”
The WIN Lab serves as a residency program comprised of weekly work sessions. From September to December, participants will go through “Series I,” which focuses on “pushing boundaries as entrepreneurs in order to develop market-ready prototypes.” The second series will run from January to April, and help women “shape an entrepreneurial team and develop a launch and funding strategy.”
WIN Lab entrepreneurs will be tasked with delivering monthly updates and pitching their entrepreneurial ventures to peers, guest entrepreneurs, angel investors and others who have links to potential funding sources. The accelerator will also provide access to bank loans, potential advisory board members and networking opportunities.
The incubator’s first group of 16 women hail from nine different countries—a promising statistic in a world where Kelley’s aforementioned red flags remain. It’s no wonder Babson was recently ranked No. 1 in entrepreneurship for the 17th year in a row.