Self-Employed But Not Self-Interested: Female Entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs are starting trends that extend beyond their bottom line. These women are the owners of start-ups that create businesses or organizations that give back. Through this social work, their businesses become even more impactful as local communities and economies depend on these women. So what is it that drives these them? More than just maternal instinct, logical decision-making combined with compassion for a cause sets a standard for savvy women and men around the world.

Read on to learn about female entrepreneurs who are self-employed, but not self-interested and the causes behind their companies.

Women in Business

You can't get through an article about women in business without mentioning Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. In the last two years, she's done a lot of work in recognizing women in general, not just in business. Her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and her involvement in female-motivating movements such as Ban Bossy, plus her executive position at a Fortune 500 company, makes her an important figurehead for women entrepreneurs.

Sandberg isn't the first female executive, but she's certainly the most vocal when it comes to causes she cares about. While Sandberg isn't exactly the entrepreneurial mind behind Facebook, she has set a public precedent for women in power.  

Sandberg is so relevant when discussing women entrepreneurs because she's at well-known, high-grossing company. But there are women in business who receive little recognition for their efforts yet continue to drive their businesses with careful detours planned only for the causes they hold most dear. They recognize that they don't have a platform, but they do have a voice, and they use it both exactly and symbolically.

Self-employed entrepreneurial women who look beyond their businesses and to their local communities and economies are empowered by women like Sandberg, but they have the potential to surpass her in their ability to see even further beyond gender and workplace politics, making their own way.

Where They Come From

While Facebook COO Sandberg may have a degree from Harvard Business School, many women entrepreneurs are taking different routes. Since these female moguls care less about "big business" and more about their businesses and causes, they don't need flashy degrees. A Master of Science in Social Administration or social work sets these entrepreneurs up to take on the issues that both excite and challenge them as women.

The Causes That Move Them

While many women entrepreneurs may have their own, unique causes, there are several social issues that stand out among the majority of them. According to, "Women perform the majority of the world's work, but control a disproportionately small share of its resources." That's likely why, as they gain power, the very social issues that impact them are the ones they focus on; however, gender isn't always the main motivator – rather, it's the community as a whole.

Education - Wendy Kopp of Teach for America created a program that allows college graduates to get their feet wet as teachers, providing these bright minds to underprivileged schools around the U.S.  

Health -Wendy Nguyen founded HealthyOut, an NYC-based service that helps people easily search for and pickup healthy takeout meals nearby. Her mission is to inspire the community to eat healthy every day and not just at home. Countless other entrepreneurs and their organizations also fight for women's health care dating all the way back to Planned Parenthood's Margaret Sanger and Ethel Bryne.

Employment - Forbes reports, Connie Duckworth founded ARZU STUDIO HOPE to specifically address the employment issues that women face in Afghanistan. According to Forbes, "Over the past 10 years, ARZU has employed 700 weavers from 7 villages, and 95 percent of the employees are women. Significantly, funds raised through sales of rugs go directly into education and food."

Social entrepreneurship isn't just a woman's cause; however, women increasingly take the lead on projects that benefit society more than their bottom line.

What social cause sparks your interest? How would you like to see women entrepreneurs change your community? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 


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