Starting a business has enough challenges in itself, but being female and starting a business in the U.S. has its own set of challenges. Female entrepreneurs do not have the same access to funding, connections, or business instruction as do male entrepreneurs. Eighty-five percent of venture capital funded start-ups are led exclusively by men. Even in the beauty industry, where most customers are women, female founders are still underrepresented. SEPHORA, the leading beauty retailer, is taking action. It has launched the SEPHORA Accelerate program to build a community of innovative female founders in all areas of the beauty industry. The Accelerate initiative embraces a more collaborative and supportive structure, creating an approach that will be a catalyst for growth, infusing social impact into each new brand’s work.
SEPHORA Accelerate is an initiative that operates under SEPHORA STANDS, the company’s broad philanthropic arm, which works to inspire confidence among women in business. It has a pioneering mission to build long-term social impact programs for women by cultivating the next generation of beauty businesses. The qualifying candidates are invited to apply for one of up to ten coveted spots in the year-long program, with applications reviewed in partnership with OpenIDEO, the social innovation platform of IDEO, the award-winning global design firm.
Each ‘Fellow’ must meet specific criteria, including being a founder or co-founder of their business, being committed to building social impact into the company’s DNA and to fit within two broad categories: leading a company that creates a cosmetic product, or a company that creates technology or provides services related to beauty or that could be relevant to the beauty industry. Once selected, the Fellows participate in a boot-camp at SEPHORA’s Headquarters in San Francisco which is designed to teach the necessary skills to run and build their businesses.
These Fellows also gain access to an exclusive mentorship program comprised of Sephora’s network of beauty industry leaders and become eligible for possible funding through SEPHORA. The SEPHORA Accelerate ambition is to support more than 50 women-led beauty businesses by 2020. The inaugural SEPHORA Accelerate cohort will be announced this March.
SEPHORA will also introduce Classes for Confidence in April 2016, a series of specialised in-store complimentary classes. They are developed to help inspire confidence in women facing major life transitions by offering a supportive environment where participants can learn and have fun. These Classes will also help SEPHORA store employees to make a difference in their local communities. The program is currently being piloted in six U.S. states. It aims to inspire confidence in 100,000 women by 2020 through these special classes; it has already benefitted local women re-entering the workforce, including those in transitional housing and shelter projects.
These new programs demonstrate how SEPHORA is uniquely positioned to support and inspire women, and is doing so.
Photo Credit: SEPHORA
– See more at: http://www.justmeans.com/blogs/sephora-helps-women-entrepreneurs-face-business-and-gender-challenges#sthash.XaIiKoO3.dpuf