Get Think Tanked Distilled with Danielle Kayembe

The ETF Think Tank joins in the celebration of Women’s History Month by speaking with entrepreneur, author and speaker Danielle Kayembe. She is dedicated to empowering women through her global work in business, social impact, writing and public speaking. Through her company GreyFire, she advises governments, companies and startups on how to integrate forward-looking initiatives and is the author of “The Silent Rise of the Female-Driven Economy” a white paper that re-positions women as central to the future of business and innovation.

The theme of this week’s conversation centered around the challenges and disadvantages that women face in both the workplace and the consumer landscape. Viewed through the lens of someone who has faced her own difficulties in advancing through the male-dominated investment banking world as well as creating opportunities for other women with similar experiences, Danielle was able to offer some unique perspectives about why impact investing is vital to the growth of women’s success in the economy and advice for those looking to advance themselves. During the show, Siran Cao, founder of Mirza, a company whose goal she described as “ending the motherhood penalty” in the workplace, and Alexandra Fine, founder of the sex-tech company Dame Products, later joined the call to add to the discussion.

The conversation highlighted a number of problems that women face as they attempt to advance their careers, specifically, competing against men in the workplace, gender stereotyping, the costs and benefits of exiting the workforce to start a family and the challenges of trying to re-enter it after time away.

Among the statistics that were shared:

  • 43% of highly qualified women don’t return to the workforce or “downshift” following starting a family.
  • One year out of the workforce for a woman translates to a 39% loss of lifetime earnings as women face the challenges of choosing between salary and childcare.
  • 20-35% of new mothers never return to their original employers, adding to structural inefficiencies that can also be costly for companies as they have to find and train new employees.

Also discussed was the idea of “impact investing” and how people are able to support women-led businesses both fundamentally and financially. Impact investing, for example, goes beyond just the common business goal of making a profit for stakeholders. It’s a means of understanding that projects have multiple benefits beyond the bottom line and can (and should) benefit multiple people throughout the community. Danielle noted that, in terms of venture capital, 35-40% of new entrepreneurs are women, but they only receive 2% of all funding for new innovation. Women of color only receive about 0.02% of total funding. Impact investing can help change that disparity.

Danielle talked about how women-founded businesses often rise out of personal problems that do not have a ready-made solution. ThirdLove, the women’s lingerie retailer, was founded out of the idea that it created garments for women using direct feedback from women. Whereas Victoria’s Secret may produce lingerie geared towards what men want, ThirdLove makes lingerie geared towards the needs of women and solves for real women’s issues. More entrepreneurial women need to be at the table to create solutions like these.

Alexandra and Danielle wrapped up the discussion by offering their advice for any woman looking to obtain investor capital for their own startup – develop something you believe in, believe in yourself, know your plan, know what you want and show them you can make money, define your values and use that as your guide, look for who has supported women-founded businesses and build those connections, and learn to tell a story that investors can get excited about.

This week we have Paul Jackson, Global Head of Asset Allocation Research at Invesco. We’ll be discussing Uncommon Truths and The Big Picture, as well as asset allocation. Come join us! As always, bring your questions.


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