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San Francisco Bay Area is top city for female entrepreneurs


San Francisco Bay Area recently won the number one spot out of 50 cities in the Women Entrepreneur Cities Index for fostering growth of women-owned businesses. PHOTO: Alex Fotos

San Francisco Bay Area recently won the number one spot out of 50 cities in the Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index for fostering growth of women-owned businesses. This index is a global study by Dell Technologies and IHS Markit, that measures a city’s ability to attract and support high-potential women entrepreneurs, and the Bay Area took first position by awarding more women entrepreneurs with capital and mentors.

The top 10 cities in the study were Bay Area, New York, London, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Seattle, Paris, Toronto and Stockholm. The cities were ranked based on the impact of local policies, programs and characteristics, as well as national laws and customs to help improve support for women entrepreneurs and the overall economy between 2017 and 2019. The study serves as a tool to advise policy-makers on how to better support women in business.

Capital and culture important in business

“The 2019 Dell WE Cities Report not only ranks 50 global cities on their ability to foster women entrepreneurs, but shows how the cities have improved from their 2017 benchmark. This year we see some patterns emerging. Ranked cities have collectively made the most improvement in the capital and culture pillars, which shows the importance of measuring the operating environment and the enabling environment for women entrepreneurs,” says Karen Campbell, Consulting Associate Director at IHS Markit.

The San Francisco Bay Area out ranked New York for the number one spot this year, largely in part because the Bay Area is one of the best places for women to gain access to capital. It also moved from sixth place to second place in culture, showing that the number of role models and public dialogue around eliminating the ‘bro culture’ is making an impact.

How were the cities ranked?

The cities were ranked on five characteristics including access to capital, technology, talent, culture and markets and the overall rating was based on 71 indicators. Out of a total of 100 possible points, the San Francisco Bay Area scored only 63.7. This shows there is still much work to do to level the field for women and validates the need for this research and outreach to policymakers to move the needle for female founders.

Lack of funding, high-cost of living, low representation of women in leadership roles and lack of government led policies that support women entrepreneurs continue to be among barriers globally. Based on the findings of the study, Dell Technologies has developed policy recommendations focused on access to and development of financial and human capital; the private and public sectors role in increasing access to local and global networks and markets; and how government and business leaders can help women entrepreneurs thrive in the changing-face of technology.

All 50 cities have improved Since 2017 all 50 cities have improved on the majority of their indicators year-over-year. Latin America and Europe saw the highest percentage of their cities move up. Mexico City had the greatest improvement ranking 45 in 2017 moving up to 29 this year. The city increased women in education at top business schools and in its legislature, increased corporate vendor procurement programs, and access to capital for women entrepreneurs via crowdfunding campaigns. Most improved cities represented nearly every region which indicates how broad-based the improvements have been around the world.

Study shares best practices

The WE Cities Index results highlight the successes and challenges that each city faces, and where cities can learn best practices from one another. These key learnings, if supported by local governments, can add up to big changes for women-owned businesses, globally.

"When we invest in women, we invest in the future, communities prosper, economies thrive and the next generation leads with purpose. By arming city leaders with actionable, data-driven research on the landscape for women entrepreneurs, we can collectively accelerate the success of women-owned businesses by removing financial, cultural and political barriers,” says Karen Quintos, EVP and chief customer officer at Dell Technologies.



The top 50 cities in the Women Entrepreneur Cities Index which measures a city’s ability to attract and support high-potential women entrepreneurs.

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