We’ve been clear from the beginning: We can’t afford to lose another voice, to miss out on her voice. We’re talking about the voices of women and girl innovators around the world who are pioneering the next big ideas that could change the world, but who face persistent, structural barriers in starting, running and growing their big business ideas.
From interviews with over 800 female social entrepreneurs across 5 continents, we discovered that no matter where she lives or what she does, female social innovators struggle to access capital and critical expertise to launching and sustaining viable business models that address large-scale social challenges. For seed-stage and early-stage female social entrepreneurs, the capital starvation cycle was most pronounced while building a case for revenue generation and measuring social impact.
Resoundingly, nearly every female social entrepreneur we interviewed underscored how lonely and emotionally tenuous social entrepreneurship can be (always leading the charge, but scarcely having the opportunity to recharge) and the pitfalls of working in isolation and invisibility without a supportive peer network.
We recognized that all of the challenges female social entrepreneurs encountered while starting and running their ventures were compounded by varied degrees of a “double bind,” the way in which gender stereotypes, biases and discriminatory – and sometimes oppressive – laws and environments stymied, disabled or threatened their ability to thrive and maintain their visions. We learned that a lot of female social entrepreneurs – brilliant leaders – were operating on the fringes, wondering whether they’d make it another year.
When a female innovator does not receive the support she needs for her venture and is forced to close its doors, we lose more than a social enterprise. We lose a voice with a vision. Her voice. We lose her leadership presence, wisdom and insight. As this cycle repeats over and over again in every region of the world, we experience the loss of millions of women and girls’ voices. We decelerate both opportunity to bring forth innovative ideas to persistent global challenges and the visibility of women and girls in leadership positions that are so crucial to advancing women and girls’ agency around the world.
We knew that it was time for a ‘think tank’ and a movement dedicated exclusively to courageous and brilliant women and girl social entrepreneurs all around the world. That is why we’re focused on building the largest community of female social entrepreneurs in the world and global ecosystems of collaboration and resources to ensure that we support this generation – and many generations to come – of female leaders. From Mumbai to Seattle, we refuse to lose another voice.
Today, the girltank movement is stronger and more diverse than ever. girltank is a collective of women and girls starting businesses in big cities, building movements in slums, forming clubs from Vietnam to San Francisco and innovating in fields like STEM where few women hold visible positions of power. These are the women and girls who are undertaking a cause bigger than yet inseparable from who they are.
To all these women and girls, we’ve got your back. To all of you reading this, we invite you to join us and dare to change the world.