May’s Note from Doyenne Group Executive Director


The American Express Open 2016 Report was recently released and even though the numbers for women starting and scaling their businesses are going down over the past 5 years, numbers in Wisconsin are up!

The Pluses…

Nationally, women-owned firms have grown 5X the national average since 2007 (11.3 Million total), 38% of all businesses are women-owned, they employ over 9 million individuals, and bring in $1.6 Trillion in revenues annually. Plus 44% of all women-owned firmed are owned by women of color (up from 17% in 2007) and 8 out of 10 new businesses are being launched by women of color.

For the last two years Wisconsin has ranked last in the Nation for women-led businesses, this year we rank 38th! This is a huge increase in our ranking! We have always known women are starting and leading amazing businesses in Wisconsin, it’s so great that we’re seeing gains.

The minuses…

Even though Wisconsin’s overall ranking is on the rise, the number of women starting businesses has decreased. In 2012 an average of 12 businesses per day were being started by women in Wisconsin, today we’re at 6.  We also are employing on average only 1-2 employees (not including founders) and still lag in high-growth business sectors. The amount of money being invested in women-led businesses in Wisconsin has remained the same (9% of total investment dollars available) and we still hoover right around the 25% of all business ownership being considered women-owned. Both of these stats are below the national average.

More downer moments…
We’ve all heard the average woman makes 79 cents for every $1 a man makes, in Wisconsin we’re at an average of 64 cents (and even less if you’re a woman of color) and it won’t be until 2068 (52 years) until we have equal pay . A new report from Manpower Group (I know what you’re thinking about the name) states it will take 22 years before gender leadership roles are equal in the workplace.

What can we all do…

We’re making headway, but we still have a lot of work to do as a state! Doyenne Group’s mission is to make Madison and Wisconsin a top 5 region for women entrepreneurs. We say it, work towards it, and live it every day to meet this goal, but we need your help too!

Recently I was interviewed on WPR’s Central Time to talk about the state of women entrepreneurship in Wisconsin, they asked if there is anything our state government can do to support women-owned businesses. My firm belief is, at the government level, the only way to make change happen is by supporting all entrepreneurship. Wisconsin’s ranking for startup activity overall has been on the decline for the past 4 years.

Doyenne leaders have started talking to State Representatives and agencies to make sure they know the needs and constraints entrepreneurs are facing, but they need to hear from you too! If you would like to know how Doyenne Group is taking action email me to find out more.

The biggest way we can increase our ranking as a state is by supporting one another!
Women sometimes are even harsher critics of each other than we ever see from our male counterparts, this needs to stop!
Today women have the greatest amount of personal wealth than ever before in history, yet the number of women investors and financial backers is not even recognizable in comparison to the number and amounts men invest. While talking to an entrepreneur recently who is trying to raise capital through investments for her business she said to me, “I knew raising money and signing with investors was going to be hard, but I can’t believe how much more difficult it has been to sign on woman investors than men”. I was honestly thrown by this statement and couldn’t believe this is the experience she is having.

We have a lot of work to do, and every day we’re still facing an uphill with no path to follow climb as we try to make it to the top. I’m choosing to remain optimistic and remember that each day is a new day, and a day to pull back another branch to create that path to move us one step closer to the goal of be coming a top region for entrepreneurs, leadership, wages and professional equality for everyone.


Thank You!
Heather Wentler

Executive Director of Doyenne Group, Inc.