04/23/2013 10:41 am ET | Updated Jun 22, 2013

A Shot at the 'American Dream' of Entrepreneurship


This post is part of the Global Mom Relay. Every time you share this blog, $5 will go to women and girls around the world. Scroll to the bottom to find out more.

When I was three years old, I crawled up in my grandfather's lap and said "Paw (yes he spells it P-A-W), how we come so lucky?" Today, almost 40 years later, my kids look at me and ask that same sweet question. Yet far too many boys and girls around the world will never know the blessings and freedoms we have here in America.

Together, we can change that. Together, we can give kids -- and their moms -- around the world a shot at making their dreams come true. We know for a fact that when women are economically empowered, there is a direct impact on the future prospects for their children and communities. That's why my personal passion is centered on helping women start and grow businesses. And as a mom of three boys under nine, it is very important to me that my boys grow up seeing firsthand the role of a strong woman at home, in business and in our global community. That they grow up not only respecting women, but valuing the leadership, problem-solving and collaborative qualities of women and girls whether it's in sports, school or their future business endeavors.

Helping today's and tomorrow's dreamers, thinkers and innovators turn their ideas into businesses or social enterprises is not just a passion of mine and a business strategy for us at Dell, but a corporate philosophy. One anchored in our sole purpose as a company -- to create technology solutions that give our customers The Power To Do More.

It's this belief that inspired the creation of the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network four years ago. At that time, Women Impacting Public Policy and its partners released an eye-opening statistic for us -- "If women-owned businesses in the U.S. alone where a country, they'd be the 5th largest GDP in the world." And Booz&Co calls women and their impact on the global economy over the next decade The Third Billion -- at least as significant as that of the billion-plus populations in both China and India. As Hillary Clinton has said many times -- the economic empowerment of women isn't just a moral issue but an economic one!


DWEN Session. Photo courtesty of Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network, New Delhi, India

Yet, women founders struggle to access the capital, networks and knowledge of their male counterparts to start or take their businesses to the next level. If we can change this ratio, we can have a dramatic impact not only on women but on their children -- our next generation of business owners.

Over the past four years, we've focused on creating and fostering a community of like-minded women founders who are looking for ways to grow -- primarily by expanding into fast-growth, emerging countries like China, India, Brazil, Turkey -- and who need a venue to exchange ideas, learn and do business with one another to make it happen.

Today, we have hundreds of women who have attended our annual, invitation-only Network event and thousands more connecting through our LinkedIn Group. They call themselves DWEN sisters and we are growing together! By connecting women to sources of capital, technology, knowledge and networks, we've helped women enter new markets in countries with growing economies. Our members have made valuable business connections through the network that have led to breakthroughs that have enhanced their success. And we have passed on our knowledge around technology to provide them with ideas for new ways to scale their businesses. This is why I love the work I do and cherish each and every encounter I have with an entrepreneur who is trying to expand her business.

What we know is that the rise of women-owned businesses and increasing the talent pool is essential to global economic growth and to giving kids, especially in the poorest parts of the world, a chance for a better life! When I think about what more we could be doing to spur economic development and opportunity, I quickly realize we can't do it alone. We have to partner with organizations like the UN Foundation, governments and departments of state around the world, universities, other companies and the future generation -- it's the multiplier effect that will help all our efforts build faster.

In June at our annual Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network event in Turkey, we are announcing a new "Pay it Forward" campaign -- 100 percent focused on the multiplier effect. If our Network of thousands of successful women founders and business leaders (including the women at Dell) "pays it forward" to 10 future and up-and-coming women entrepreneurs (especially those who are staring businesses to raise themselves and their families out of poverty) who in turn pay it forward to 10 more, we can have an impact far beyond what we're able to have on our own. Helping the next generation of women business owners who need capital, advice, or mentoring is what this commitment is all about. And we'll be tracking our progress through a Website and app with the goal of helping one million women entrepreneurs worldwide by 2015.

To get involved, learn, share your ideas and support innovative female entrepreneurs from around the world, join our Women Powering Business Network on LinkedIn.

Each time you share this Global Mom Relay piece on Facebook, Twitter, or Email, or donate $5 or more through clicking on the above graphic, a $5 donation (up to $500,000) will be donated by Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Shot@Life. $5 protects a child from polio and measles for his/her lifetime. Funds go to WHO, UNICEF and the GAVI Alliance who distribute them to the programs and countries with the greatest need at the time. Join us by sharing it forward and unlock the potential for women and children around the globe. For more information, visit The United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, BabyCenter, The Huffington Post, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation created the Global Mom Relay, a first-of-its-kind virtual relay with a goal of improving the lives of women and children around the globe.