Google Encouraging More Women-Led Startups

Google is committing $1 million to 40 groups that work with technology and other startups to encourage them to find ways to bring more women into businesses that are beginning from the ground up.

Google is giving $1 million to 40 global organizations that work with startup companies to encourage them to find ways to bring more women into the fields of business and technology.

The program, called #40 Forward, aims to increase the number of women working within the communities served by the global startup-focused organizations by 25 percent in 2014, according to a March 5 post by Bridgette Sexton Beam, Google's global entrepreneurship manager, on the Google Official Blog.

"In an effort to find new ways to advance female entrepreneurs, this week Google for Entrepreneurs is committing $1 million in aggregate to 40 startup-focused organizations, challenging them to increase the representation of women in their respective tech communities," wrote Beam. "From simply changing the times of events to accommodate busy moms to teaching young girls to see themselves as entrepreneurs, 40 of our partner communities will soon launch new programs and outreach initiatives to encourage women founders."

The #40Forward project will include participating organizations such as 1871 in Chicago, which is launching an accelerator program for women founded or co-founded companies that's more flexible and family-friendly, with a customized plan for each startup; Gaza Sky Geeks in Gaza, which is providing rewards for women attending startup events to demonstrate the economic value of them getting involved in tech to their families; Startup Grind chapters all over the world, which are hosting Women Take the Stage fireside chats featuring successful women business leaders in their communities; and Outbox in Uganda, which is launching a yearlong training to teach young women programming and entrepreneurial skills, according to Beam's post.

"Women-led tech companies achieve 35 percent higher return on investment, and, when venture-backed, bring in 12 percent more revenue than male-owned tech companies," the post reported. "Yet women are still underrepresented in startup communities. We think there are substantive ways to be more inclusive."

Having more women involved in new business projects is important, according to the project's Website, because "studies have shown that diverse teams create better products and run more successful companies. We also know that women are highly efficient with capital, running companies on two-thirds the funds of their male counterparts, yet receiving roughly 4 percent of venture capital."

Also included in the list of project organizations are American Underground in Durham, N.C.; BongoHive in Zambia, Africa; Campus for Mums in London, U.K.; CoCo in Minneapolis, Minn.; Communitech in Waterloo, Canada; Galvanize in Denver; General Assembly in New York City; Grand Circus in Detroit; MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region in the Middle East; Nashville Entrepreneurship Center in Nashville, Tenn.; SifTech, the Jerusalem Entrepreneurship Center in Israel; Silicon Sentier in Paris; and Manos Accelerator in San Jose, Calif.

For Google's Beam, the new program has an especially personal meaning. "At age 40, my mom quit her job to start an employment agency for people with disabilities," she wrote. "Over the next few years and without a college degree or any formal funding, she grew her business to employ more than 30 people and serve thousands of clients."

That real-life experience made its mark on her, wrote Beam. "Though to me she's one-of-a-kind, it turns out there are other women like my mom out there. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, women make up 30 percent of U.S. business owners and employ nearly 7.8 million workers. Even though women-owned enterprises operate with far less capital, in the venture-backed tech industry, they produce 12 percent higher returns. That means that not only is supporting women in business the right thing to do, it's also the smart thing to do."