“This girl is on fire” — Alicia Keys
Is that a good or bad thing?
Well, I can tell you as a girl who has been accused of being on fire in a good way, this also leads to being on fire in a not so great way.
Let’s break this down. I’m building my second manufacturing business and raising investment, I’m statistically an outlier. I see evidence of this in meetings where I am typically the only woman in the room and it is not unusual that I must continue to speak even when it’s implied that I don’t have the experience to deserve that right. In this regard, I am indeed in my personal element and definitely on fire — I will not be hushed!
The private side of being on fire, is dealing with my emotional response to these situations. I think of the process as similar to tempering the metal of a sword. I know I have potential, but unless I am willing to feel the flames of prejudice, underestimation, disregard and ridicule, it would be fair to say I am not living in reality.
I am standing on the shoulders of the women before me, but I am also seeking the shoulders of the minority of men who are willing to take the perceived risk. They are in fact going against cultural norms and aligning themselves with the statistics, which in Canada are:
- 47% of SMEs are owned by women
- $117 Billion per annum of economic activity in Canada is generated by female owned businesses
In the US the statistics show:
- 45% increase in female owned businesses compared to just a 9% increase among all businesses since 2007 — that’s five times the national average
- 18% increase in employment at female owned businesses as opposed to a 1% decline since 2007 nationally
- 30% higher increase in female owned businesses than the national average
Am I a disruptor? Statistical evidence says that I am in fact part of an explosively growing sector of business. So why do female owned companies enjoy only 5% of venture capital?