Three leaders discuss why diversity in ownership matters and how we can support women-owned businesses.
Monica Smith Griffin
Reagan Smith President and CEO
Supporting and partnering with women-owned small businesses is crucial for growing Oklahoma’s economy and developing our workforce. As an Oklahoma woman-owned small business, we focus on maintaining our unique company culture by staying innovative and agile in order to offer cutting-edge customized services that align with our clients’ goals. Oklahoma businesses like ours are able to support local charities by understanding the needs of the community while providing opportunities to women in a variety of STEM careers like biology, GIS, archaeology and natural resource management. By promoting women entrepreneurs, we encourage innovation, create more job opportunities and contribute to the success of state, federal and tribal projects in Oklahoma and beyond.
Brenda Jones Barwick
APR State Chair, State Chair of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women
Many women launch their own business for a variety of reasons — salary or wage gaps, lack of upward mobility opportunities, financial independence, provide for her children. Regardless, it takes courage, sacrifices for her family and a strong belief in herself because there is a lack of access to capital for women-owned businesses. Only 7% of venture capital is invested in women entrepreneurs, and banks typically provide lower business loans to women. As state chair of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women, we encourage Oklahomans to support women-owned businesses that largely rely on true grit to create their own economic opportunities and empowerment. These women are heroic role models for their children who see a woman creating her own future and financial independence.
Plains Ventures Investment Principal, I2E Venture Advisor
As an investment principal with Plains Ventures, my overarching perspective is that folks who are adept at identifying the problems that are truly worth solving will always win! Anytime the question of ‘Why are there not more (insert inherent characteristic here)-owned businesses?’ pops up, we as a society need to consider our own efforts to support that group from the beginning. For example, efforts to grow women-owned businesses can start with increased support and accessibility for young girls (and anyone else interested!) in STEM and STEAM programs. These efforts start in the home and must be synergistic with grade school programming. We know for sure that innovations from folks across all walks of life have increased our quality of life as a society. In return, we must support true innovation wherever it is, otherwise, we all lose!