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Thinking big - EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women - Realizing the potential of women entrepreneurs - EY - United States

Thinking big: EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™

Realizing their potential

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"We utilize EY's vast network and depth of resources as the leading advisor to entrepreneurs and high-growth companies to accelerate the growth and success of these women-founded companies."Herb Engert
EY Americas Strategic Growth Markets Leader

Women entrepreneurs are a powerful force in the American economy. Because of their success in launching new ventures, 46% of the privately held firms in the US are now at least half owned by women.1 These companies represent almost 16 million jobs.

However, despite robust growth in the early stages, these companies are not scaling up to the degree they could. Businesses owned by men are three and a half times as likely to reach $1 million in annual revenues as are businesses owned by women.2

Shining a light on Entrepreneurial Winning Women

After studying the reasons, such as lack of access to capital and influential networks, why companies started by women often fall short of their promise, in 2008 we decided to invest in a meaningful solution.

We created an annual competition and leadership development program called EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ that identifies women entrepreneurs whose businesses show real potential to scale up — and then helps them do it.

With Entrepreneurial Winning Women, we saw an important opportunity to bridge the missing middle – those second-stage entrepreneurs at a crucial stage of growth who often can't readily find the tools needed to continue to scale – and help them make their way towards market leadership.


A model that works


Our long experience advising high-growth companies suggests that the most successful entrepreneurs do five key things to scale small companies into large ones.

  1. Think big and be bold
  2. Build a public profile
  3. Work on the business, rather than in it
  4. Establish key advisory networks
  5. Evaluate financing for expansion

Three years into Entrepreneurial Winning Women, results demonstrate that channeling essential information, guidance and connections in these five areas can spur dramatic growth.

Assessing the impact

According to a recent independent impact assessment directed by the Babson College Center for Women's Leadership, revenues of program participants' companies have grown almost 50% each year on average, with a corresponding average annual job growth rate of more than 25%.

This paper explores the impact of the Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program over its first three years, as well as its implications for women entrepreneurs everywhere who hope to build large businesses – and for everyone in a position to help them do it.



We extend a special thank you to Babson College's Center for Women's Leadership for its critical role in co-developing and administering the Entrepreneurial Winning Women impact assessment that serves as the foundation for this case study. We are grateful to Babson for contributing its valuable resources to undertake this study and for its support of the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ Program since its inception.




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1 U.S. Census Bureau, "Census Bureau Reports Women-Owned Firms Numbered 7.8 Million in 2007, Generated Receipts of $1.2 Trillion," December 7, 2010.
2 U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Business Owners—Women-Owned Firms 2007. Summary of Findings, Charts 2 and 5.

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