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Philadelphia: A Community for Women Entrepreneurs

Growing Resources Expand Women's Entrepreneurship In Technology and More

Women Entrepreneurs

February 25, 2016

For years, technology companies and entrepreneurial startups have been booming in cities across the nation, with little diversity to accompany. Until recently, there were few outlets available for women entrepreneurs. Now, these sectors aim to be more inclusive and tighten the palpable gender gap. Philadelphia joins this growth with a variety of resources and events.

Communities are realizing that one of the best ways to promote and encourage women entrepreneurship is to make sure there is a strong focus on it encompassing their city. In Philadelphia, there are many resources. While many of those resources are tied directly to the technology sector, there are more general organizations as well. Outside of these organizations, the Close School of Entrepreneurship plays a role in empowering women entrepreneurs. Here are some of the organizations making waves:

Girl Develop It is a non-profit organization that offers opportunities for women in web and software development. These development skills are integral to any entrepreneur or person looking to work in a technology field. Girl Develop It offers classes, but more importantly, they offer a community; a place where women can come together and meet like-minded individuals and learn or fine tune their skills together. A list of events and classes can be found on their website. Yasmine Mustafa, a prominent Philly entrepreneur who spoke at Drexel Startup Day 2015, founded the Philadelphia chapter in 2011.

Another relevant event in Philadelphia is the Women in Tech Summit. This conference provides workshops and lessons on various technological skills, career paths, and networking. Profits from the event support, a nonprofit working to reduce the gender gap in the computer and technology industries. Women in Tech had a successful conference in 2015 and the 2016 conference is already sold out. A testament to the rising popularity of technology-driven career paths for women, and the community working together to eliminate the gender gap. More information about the event can be found on the Women in Tech 2016 summit's website.

Philadelphia has female-focused working communities outside of the tech sector as well. The Female Professionals Collective, a private Facebook group that serves as a hub for women entrepreneurs in Philadelphia, is a group where business owners can network and support each other's businesses. Both young female entrepreneurs and established, successful female entrepreneurs utilize this initiative.

Michelle Silbermann, an entrepreneur and Baiada Institute member, speaks about her experience with the Female Professionals Collective, a networking group started by Karin Wolok to connect and empower entrepreneurial women. "The biggest value add is that it is a private group where everyone goes to post what's going on with their companies. We support each other. There are a little over 300 members of Philadelphia women."

The Female Professionals Collective has supported Michelle's Baiada Incubated company, ChocAmo, and, in turn, she helps out the other members. She continues about Philadelphia's emerging entrepreneurial atmosphere. "There is not a ton of structure, yet. But there is a lot happening to empower women in the region."

The Walnut Club, a private club geared toward professional women is centered around advancement, both personal and professional. Members receive perks throughout the city and also associate with like-minded, successful, women leaders in the community. The Walnut Club puts on events that are both social and business related.

The Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship itself is a leader in this community. Starting with the Founding Dean, Donna DeCarolis, who received the Iris Newman Award from the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs, to courses specifically designed to teach about women and minority entrepreneurs.

The Close School also runs the Maguire Empowerment Program for Women Leaders, a program centered on enabling young women to become entrepreneurs. This application-only, two-credit course offers an entrepreneur's boot camp and group training which purposely targets college students to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset.

As a thought leader in Philadelphia, the Close School of Entrepreneurship aims to empower in their programs and curriculum. Through the Close School efforts, coupled with the various organizations and events around the city, Philadelphia's women entrepreneurship community strengthens each day.

Christian Larsen, Communications, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship