Leisa: Hello, I’m Leisa Holland Nelson and welcome to another edition of Woman Mean Business where we’re going to take you up close and personal with extraordinary women doing extraordinary things. My guest today is Kim J.J. Davis – J.J. runs Dell’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Network.
J.J.: That’s right.
Leisa: Welcome to Women Mean Business.
J.J.: Thank you Leisa, it’s great to be here.
Leisa: Well tell us all about Dell’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Network.
J.J.: Sure, we lovingly call it DWEN or #dwen on Twitter. So it was about 2010 when we were coming out of a recession as you know here in the United States, Western Europe wasn’t any better, and we were hearing from a lot of our small and mid-sized customers that they were having some issues around access to capital. For the smaller companies a lot of the bank loans they were used to getting and paod on time were starting to dry up and as we talked to our customers – women even more than their male counterparts – were impacted. So they were coming to us and saying I need to do a technology overlay, what alternative financing options do you have for me? We have a Dell Financial Services arm that helps our customers finance their technology, but they needed financing for a lot more than just technology and that’s not the business we’re in.
So we decided to do a pilot, form the Dell Women’s Entrepreneurial Network, and take a group of women from 10 countries – we had 75 in our first year – to an emerging market so they could talk to each other and us and our partners about what they really needed – which we know it’s three things – access to capital, access to technology and access to networks – so they could start to overcome these hurdles around the things they needed so they could scale and grow. And by holding it in China we exposed them to an emerging market that had a growing middle class and money to spend on the products and services that they had.
And so that was the first year and it was just an idea that worked. So now here we are 7 years later, we run a big summit every year in a different country; we now have about 150 women a year that come to the summit from 13 countries. We have over 600 women in our network total. We have a very large and growing Linkedin group that goes beyond that, but these are women that have several million dollars in revenue, they’re international or plan to go international and really see technology as core to their strategy because women don’t have enough role models once they hit that 1, 5, 10 much less $100 million threshold and we want to help them grow.
Leisa: So how would our listeners know how to get in touch with you?
J.J.: Sure, so you can go onto Linkedin and join our group. So Women Powering Business, if you just search for that, that’s one way. You can come to Dell.com. We also have a very active conversation always happening on Twitter so that’s a way. We also have regional meet ups and you can subscribe when you come on to Twitter to our newsletter and find out where those are; we do about 25 to 30 smaller regional events around the year in addition to the summit and we show up at places like The Circular Board and The Circular Summit so that we can meet women that may be in other circles that we haven’t yet encountered.
Leisa: Thank you for being here.
J.J.: Thank you.
Leisa: There you have it, another extraordinary woman doing extraordinary things. I’m Leisa Holland Nelson, President and Co-founder of ContentActive, Houston’s leading web and mobile technology company. You can find me at ContentActive.com or follow me on Twitter @LHNelson. We’ll be back again next week with another edition of Women Mean Business.
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