In February 2015, Chase Bank announced that it’s offering a $175,000 grant to the Arizona State University (ASU) Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative. The purpose of this program is to encourage, support, and enhance women-led businesses, starting from the college years. The university’s Dean For Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Mitzi Montoya, says, “Women are woefully underrepresented,” when it comes to the entrepreneurial landscape, even in an era when there are more successful startups than ever.
In celebration of the grant, the Phoenix Startup Week event has kicked off and offers over 130 complimentary workshops geared towards female entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs. From workshops and breakout sessions, to networking and facility tours, there have already been over 1,700 people who have signed up for the event’s first year. In collaboration with Up Global, a non-profit that nurtures entrepreneurship, Chase Bank is committed to helping more women join the entrepreneurial forces in coming years.
Started from the Bottom…
At Startup Week, attendees can network with one another and learn much-needed tools, tricks, and tips for becoming, "successful entrepreneurs," according to Phoenix’s Mayor, Greg Stanton. Dubbed crucial to the “entrepreneurial ecosystem” of Phoenix, Stanton credits entrepreneurs and small business owners with nurturing the local economy back to health. A regional manager at Chase Bank, Noreen Bishop, agrees. She says, “Startups of today are job creators of tomorrow.”
However, it’s not just women who are amped about Startup Week. A local non-profit manager, Ray Cabrera, says he wanted “to see what other big thinkers are doing,” at Startup Week. Yet, it’s important to bear in mind that this is just one of the many local events happening around the world that’s centered around startups and entrepreneurship. With the generous grant from Chase Bank, though, it’s one of the few which are making major headlines.
Encouraging Female Entrepreneurs
It’s no wonder that Chase Bank is focusing on female future entrepreneurs currently in college. That’s the training ground for everyone’s future success (should they choose and are able to attend college, of course.) The relationships made, classes taken, internships scored, and individual life experiences - can all set the stage for a successful business venture.
There are, of course, also still disparities in terms of gender on college campuses and in the real world. The startup culture needs gender diversity (amongst other types of diversity) just like any other landscape does. By focusing a keen eye on entrepreneurship in general, and women entrepreneurship in particular during their college years, this process will help level the playing field which is ultimately beneficial to everyone—fellow entrepreneurs, future customers/clients/employees, and of course female entrepreneurs themselves.