Feminine Capital
Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs
Barbara Orser and Catherine Elliott


Contents and Abstracts
chapter abstract

The Introduction sets the stage for the book. Feminine capital is defined and positioned within the broader landscape of women's entrepreneurship. The reader is taken on a brief journey to Wolfville, Nova Scotia, a small town in Atlantic Canada, to meet seven feminist entrepreneurs, the women of Wolfville who served as the unexpected source of motivation for this book. All had founded business or social ventures; all spoke about the need for social change. Their commitment to equity through enterprise was inspiring. The chapter then moves forward by outlining the framework of the book, providing a preview of the chapters ahead. It concludes with additional observations by the authors that led to the writing of this book.

1 Reframing entrepreneurship
chapter abstract

Chapter 1 debunks misperceptions about female entrepreneurs and explains how expert thinking has contributed to the invisibility of feminine capital. The pervasive nature of stereotypes is discussed and how these unconscious biases help to explain why females are less likely than males to consider venture creation as a career option. The chapter opens with the introduction of five women whose stories are followed throughout the book. After becoming acquainted with these entrepreneurial heroines, readers step back in time to understand how early stereotypes continue to influence the ways in which entrepreneurs are portrayed by academics and the media. Different theoretical perspectives are briefly introduced: neo-classical economics, feminist criticism, liberal, social and entrepreneurial feminism.

2 Intention, success and identity
chapter abstract

Chapter 2 gets to the heart of feminine capital by exploring how being female can influence entrepreneurial identity, a building block for enterprise creation. The entrepreneurial identity gap is exposed and discussed. The Entrepreneurial Identity Framework illustrates how identity, success and intention interact as individuals weigh the trade-offs associated with venture creation. This information helps business owners map out how perceptions of success and intention are reflected in their entrepreneurial identity.

3 Getting to go
chapter abstract

Chapter 3 describes pathways to venture creation and how women entrepreneurs are 'getting to go.' Motivated by the desire for change—themselves, families and others—women are launching enterprises that align personal values with market opportunities. Readers are presented with four theoretical models: planned strategy, effectuation, family embeddedness and organizational creation. These are illustrated through inspirational stories. The chapter content is then summarized through a gendered matrix of venture creation. Exemplars for each quadrant are provided and this helps to merge theory with practice.

4 Enterprise growth
chapter abstract

Chapter 4 explores why some enterprises grow and others do not. Four research-based explanations are presented. Strategies that align founders' expectations with performance are described. A key asset of many successful enterprises is the business model. Innovative business models that fuel enterprise growth are illustrated through three case studies. Many of the enterprises that women start are radically different from traditional, profit-focused ventures. This information can help to broaden the reader's vision of venture creation and guide investment decisions. Learning aids provide tips on defining a suitable growth strategy that fits the reader's business objectives and values.

5 Social capital
chapter abstract

Chapter 5 explores the gendered nature of social relationships—the who, what and why of social capital. Readers are introduced to a framework of social capital, centered around the foundational element of trust. Scenarios, reflections and learning aids provide practical advice on building trust and value-added relationships. Research-based insights are provided about the gendered nature and configuration of social networks. Readers are prompted to think about the characteristics of their own social networks so that they can manage their social capital in a strategic way. Different sources of social capital are introduced, including advisory boards, industry and professional associations, informal networks, mentors and friends and family. Special attention is devoted to mentors, because mentoring is a highly effective source of entrepreneurial know-how. Best practices in developing healthy mentoring/protégé relationships are discussed.

6 Money matters
chapter abstract

Chapter 6 presents a snapshot of the sources of capital available to aspiring entrepreneurs and how being female is associated with preferences for sources of capital and with success at obtaining financing. Innovative small firm financing strategies are discussed. Four popular myths about money matters are debunked. Diagnostics are then provided to assist readers in assessing their fiscal literacy. Upon completion, readers can match their entrepreneurial intentions with the appropriate types of financial capital. Strategies to increase women entrepreneurs' access to capital are then presented.

7 Power in policy
chapter abstract

Chapter 7 describes why it is important for business owners to engage in policymaking and how policies can be used to better support women's entrepreneurship. Scenarios illustrate the implications of gender bias in entrepreneurship policy and programming. These challenges lead to a discussion about gender-based interventions including the relative merits and limitations of mainstream and female-focused small business programming.

8 Never underestimate the underestimated woman
chapter abstract

Chapter 8 summarizes the key themes of the book by revisiting feminine capital and entrepreneurial feminism—the foundational concepts advanced in the book—to explain how women's entrepreneurship is changing the ways we think about wealth and power. The paths and outcomes of venture creation are rarely predictable. This is exemplified by the entrepreneurial heroines who are re-introduced in the chapter. Each has sought different goals, faced different challenges, employed different strategies and realized different outcomes. The book closes with a broader discussion about strategies to propel women's entrepreneurship forward.