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Essential Resources for Female Founders in the South

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If you’ve been on Twitter or Facebook this week, you probably caught some clips of this week’s United#StateOfWomen Summit. The daylong event celebrated what’s already been done by and for women, and took a collective pulse check on our unfinished business. Not surprisingly, one of the key gender equality issues discussed was entrepreneurship and innovation. The Internet will tell you that women entrepreneurs are having a moment (#GirlBoss), and the Internet is kind-of right. Last year’s National Women’s Business Council report says 36% of US businesses are women-owned (up nearly 10% from the year before), but less than 2% of those companies achieve revenue of $1M or more.

Being that we’re DIG SOUTH, we had to wonder, are Southern women getting the support they need to launch and scale their businesses? How far can our women entrepreneurs really Lean In? Here are ten resources that caught our attention.

  1. The South Carolina Women’s Business Center launched in 2011 with the help of a grant from the SBA. Women in 26 counties across the state can access free one-on-one coaching, workshops, and networking opportunities, like their Founders Lab and online Think Tank sessions.
  2. Hatch Tribe is a newly launched networking and peer-to-peer mentorship group for women business owners in Charleston. Hatch Tribe hosts monthly “Women Entrepreneurs’ Hour” meet-ups as well as one-on-one and small group coaching.
  3. There are 203K women-owned businesses in metro-Atlanta, and the City wants that number to grow. Thus, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, a city-funded organization that provides community outreach, mentorship, and workshops to current and aspiring female founders. WEI also hosts WEI 15, a competitive fifteen-month accelerator program for 15 Atlanta-based, woman-owned businesses to scale sans overhead costs.
  4. A Fortune story earlier this year had three Tennessee cities on its list of best places for women entrepreneurs. Chattanooga is home to The JumpFund, an angel group founded in 2012 by a group of women entrepreneurial leaders. The JumpFund invests solely into female-founded businesses and actively recruits women interested in funding scalable ventures.  You may have met their Managing Partner, Kristina Montague, during DIG 2016.
  5. Memphis-based Upstart is one of the nation’s first accelerators dedicated to women-founded tech startups. The organization selects six startups per session to receive $25K in seed funding, mentorship, a customer network, workspace and pitch opportunities in Tennessee and Silicon Valley.
  6. Women At Austin is a community-driven organization that provides mentorship and access to role models and funding networks. The group hosts regular peer roundtables and an exclusive quarterly forum for women entrepreneurs and executives to connect and learn from one another.
  7. Babson College and The Knight Foundation just launched the Miami WIN (Women Innovating Now) Lab, an eight-month, industry-agnostic accelerator for 20 female founders. Participants meet weekly, get paired with their own mentor, and receive co-working space during the program. (Note: WIN Lab has seen great success in Boston for four years; this is its first Southern expansion).
  8. Durham-based SoarTriangle offers a competitive, nine-month Deep Mentoring Program targeted at female-led companies looking to raise money in the next 12 to 18 months. Over the course of the program, eight women entrepreneurs are paired with mentors to prepare their business for the fundraising process. The group also hosts speaker and networking events called ELSI Talks.
  9. e51 is a Raleigh-based organization working to build an ecosystem of women entrepreneurs across North Carolina. Their offerings include regular peer-to-peer advising and networking events as well as bootcamps and classes for early stage and seasoned entrepreneurs.
  10. Arlington Women Entrepreneurs is a networking and mentorship group for, you guessed it, female business owners in Arlington, VA. The group limits membership to only five women per industry and offers collaboration sessions, regular meet-ups and speaker events, and six-month Accountability and Mastermind groups.

These ten organizations are a nice start, but we’re sure there are more. If you know of one, share with us on Twitter!