Best Practices Playbook for Elevating Women in Entrepreneurship

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Advice on how to best tune programming to women of all demographics, how to give them the tools to succeed, and how to improve the investment picture for women entrepreneurs.

What would it look like if women were given equal opportunities to become successful entrepreneurs and/or become a higher representation of the CEO club?  

These are the questions tackled by the newly released Elevating Women in Entrepreneurship playbook commissioned by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) and supported by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Authors Erika R. Smith, CEO of the biotech company ReNetX Bio, and Brita Belli, a writer at Yale University, draw advice from numerous experts—primarily women—across entrepreneurship centers, universities, and the investment community. This playbook delivers proven strategies for supporting and growing the communities of successful women entrepreneurs.

Best Practice: three categories

The authors break down best practices into three overarching categories—engagement, launch, and scale—with advice on how to best tune programming to women of all demographics, how to give them the tools to succeed, and how to improve the investment picture for women entrepreneurs. There is also special attention given to supporting women faculty and post docs in commercializing their innovations.

“Smith and Belli identified inspiring, fresh takes on actionable practices that incubators, accelerators, angel funds, and other organizations can take to elevate women up from being underrepresented in starting and growing sustainable ventures,” said Andrea Wesser-Brawner, InBIA Senior Vice President of Strategy & Partnerships. “They understand that what is needed is a real overhaul of the existing system, and they are sharing the most current implementation steps to help us get there.”

Some featured notable experts include: Marian Nakada, PhD, VP of Venture Investment at J&J Innovation; Jo Ann Corkran, Managing Director of Golden Seeds; Maha Ibrahim, General Partner at Canaan Partners; Amy Millman, Founder and President of Springboard Enterprises; Natalia Oberti Noguera, Founder and CEO of Pipeline Angels; Kathleen Kelly Janus, lecturer at Stanford University’s Program on Social Entrepreneurship; Cornelia Huellstrunk, Executive Director of the Keller Center for Innovations in Engineering Education at Princeton University; and Kathleen Kurre, Director of Program at digitalundivided. 

As the playbook notes, women are still half as likely as men to start a new business, and when they do, receive only 2.7% of all venture funding. And yet, the most underrepresented population, African American women business leaders, “outpace all other startups” by six times the national average, according to Melissa Bradley. The experts cited in the playbook have achieved real strides in attracting and supporting women entrepreneurs to succeed by focusing on increasing diversity at all levels, building solutions for work/life balance, increasing the visibility of women in tech, and fixing the pipeline for women in venture capital, among other solutions. Key findings include the need to build supportive communities and to de-emphasize the importance of the pitch as the only measure of a founder’s potential success.

The elephant in the room

Elevating Women in Entrepreneurship addresses the elephants in the room: the pervasive bias against mothers and older founders, the limitations of women-only events, and the worries around men with relevant, meaningful expertise mentoring women in the #MeToo era. The playbook also examines successful programs, women-focused investment funds, and strategies toward establishing more women board members. “We’re carrying the baggage of generations of stereotypes and expectations of women, as well as our own angst,” says Canaan Partners’ General Partner and interviewed expert Amy Millman. “My biggest concern is how do I get women to feel confident about what they already know and what their capabilities are?”

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.6 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management.

A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at

The International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) is a global nonprofit with over 2,200 members that lead entrepreneurship centers in 62 countries – including Berytech in Lebanon. For over 30 years, InBIA has provided industry best practices through education while enabling collaboration, mentorship, peer-based learning and the sharing of innovative ideas for entrepreneurs across the globe. InBIA is the premier organization for business incubators, accelerators, coworking spaces and other entrepreneurship support organizations.

If you are interested in accessing the playbook, click here.

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