Valley Venture Mentors, VVM, is launching an entrepreneurial renaissance in the pioneer valley of Western Massachusetts. VVM’s unique model supports entrepreneurs to create scalable ventures with the help of a community of lovingly critical mentors. Within the VVM model, companies pivot as entrepreneurs grow.
It became apparent in VVM’s early days that to increase diversity VVM would need to provide childcare during mentoring events, so they did just that. Since 2011 the organization has supported 94 ventures and the mentor community has grown to 600 in 2015 (30x its original size).
Sheila Rivera, Founder of Hot Oven Cookies, regularly brings her girls, Amelia 5 and Mia 7, to VVM while she participates in the Mentorship Program. Sheila says, “Having access to quality childcare during VVM events has given me the freedom and confidence to pursue my goals and allowed my girls to feel like they are part of the process.”
VVM Executive Director, Paul Silva instituted babysitting for other reasons as well saying, “having babysitters on site sends an important message to VVM’s growing community of entrepreneurs and mentors. Everyone can participate, everyone is welcome. Everyone can show up.”
While both men and women take advantage of VVM’s childcare offerings, women are more likely to need the service. Engaging more women in VVM programs is a core value for VVM. The entire community benefits from increased diversity and women make successful entrepreneurs, though they are less likely to start a venture. Research backs this up.
According to the July 20th Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneurship Policy Digest titled, Women Entrepreneurs are Key to Accelerating growth, “Today, women remain underrepresented among the ranks of entrepreneurs. In fact, they are half as likely as men to start a business. This discrepancy is not just a gender or fairness issue—it is an issue of economic growth.”
But women also make excellent entrepreneurs. The Kauffman report continues:
Women entrepreneurs bring particular sets of skills that not only set them apart from their male counterparts, but also lend themselves to being successful entrepreneurs.
- Women entrepreneurs have a more nuanced view of risk, identifying more strongly than men as financial risk takers, while remaining concerned about “fool hardy risks.”
- Women display greater ambitions to become serial entrepreneurs than their male counterparts.
- More broadly, an increase in the number of women in business leadership positions is correlated with increased business returns and payout ratios.
To learn more about VVM and its programs please visit www.valleyventurementors.org.