The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) announced today the formation of the Task Force for Women Entrepreneurs. The task force will be dedicated to the recruitment, funding, and operational support of women-owned and-led startups in Maryland.
The TEDCO Board of Directors Executive Committee commissioned the task force in conjunction with the TEDCO management team. Myra Norton, Vice Chair of the TEDCO Board of Directors and President and COO of Arena, will lead the task force. Jennifer Hammaker, TEDCO’s Vice President of Business Development, will serve as chief liaison between TEDCO and the task force. The task force will assess and analyze the challenges that women entrepreneurs in Maryland face when accessing seed capital and ways to overcome those challenges. The task force will deliver a report to the TEDCO Board of Directors with its findings and recommendations.
“I am honored to be a part of this important TEDCO initiative,” said Norton. “One of the main reasons I joined TEDCO’s Board of Directors was to ensure that women entrepreneurs and women-owned startups in Maryland have equal opportunity to obtain funding and support. The task force is another great step in that direction.”
Studies show an industry-wide problem with women-owned companies receiving support from venture capital firms. One study showed that, in 2018, just 10% of all global venture dollars went towards solely women-owned startups. While this is an increase from previous years, it is still significantly less than the 83% of all global venture dollars that went towards men-owned startups that year. Similarly, the percent of global seed dollars in 2018 that went towards women-owned startups was just 6% compared to the 80% received by men-owned startups.
“This task force is something that we at TEDCO have been looking to implement for some time,” said George Davis, CEO of TEDCO. “We have had great success with TEDCO’s Builder Fund, which financially and operationally supports startups run by entrepreneurs from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and we are excited to apply the lessons learned there to this task force. Our goal will be the eventual creation of a similar fund geared towards women-owned startups. Additionally, we expect that through this initiative we will be able to better assess our internal service delivery operations to ensure we are responsive at all levels.”
In 2016, TEDCO commissioned a study into the demographics of those startups applying for funding and support from TEDCO to try to identify underserved entrepreneurs. As a result of that study, TEDCO launched the Minority Business Pre-Seed Fund, which eventually became the Builder Fund. That fund is in Governor Larry Hogan’s proposed 2020 budget for first-time funding of $1 million to expand funding for startups run by entrepreneurs from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds.