Women-Owned Businesses and the Spirit of Entrepreneurship

WISE Symposium

WISE: Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship

According to, over the past decade and a half, the number of women-owned businesses has grown substantially by 54% (roughly 8 million). However, though 30% of companies are now owned by women, only 5% of venture capital is invested in women-owned ventures.

To combat this imbalance, organizations like WISE: Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship, here in Syracuse, have stepped up to the plate to help boost a league of their own.

Focused on fostering “innovation, development, growth, and networking” for women entrepreneurs, WISE accomplishes this via two main means: an annual conference that brings together over 1,000 women; and a business center that focuses on meeting the needs of women-owned companies.

Symposium: The Inspiration

The WISE Symposium is an annual event held at Syracuse University that has become a very popular and empowering day for women. The event consists of exhibitions from woman-owned businesses and organizations, networking, guest speakers, and even a cafe-style meeting place that introduces event-goers to the WISE Women’s Business Council. (For ticket info go to

This year’s speakers include Tory Johnson (Good Morning America), Maria Contreras-Sweet (U.S. Small Business Administration), Sandra Gault (serial entrepreneur), Shanti Das (music marketing executive), Jamila Payne (Queued Digital), and many more.

The event attracts business leaders, entrepreneurs, and “anyone interested in networking with smart, savvy women in business.

The Business Council: The Rest of the Story

“The WISE Women’s Business Council is a 364 day long answer to one day long question posed by the Symposium,” explained Joanne Lenweaver, Director of the WISE Women’s Business Center at Syracuse University. The center is a project of the Whitman School of Management

Through the WISE Women’s Business Center, WISE is able to help women through the many struggles of starting a business: from startup to ongoing support. The center operates from the Syracuse Technology Garden in Downtown Syracuse and is part of a larger network of women-owned business mentorship organizations.

Check out their website: for more information and tune in Thursday for our podcast – “The Next Best Thing” to hear the full interview with members of WISE about the great work they are doing to inspire and support women entrepreneurs in our community.

Feature Photo: | Solon Quinn

The Next Best Thing Podcast

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