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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
News & Media
Feb 28, 2020

Reflections from the 2020 Kenan Institute Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Conference

By Abby Staker, Kenan Scholars Class of 2020

Attending the 2020 Kenan Institute Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Conference (KIFE) at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida was an amazing opportunity! In my pursuit of a business degree with an entrepreneurship minor, the entrepreneurial ecosystem has continually fascinated me. My interest in the field even led me to my topic for my senior honors thesis – exploration of the gender funding gap in entrepreneurial ventures. My participation at the KIFE conference proved invaluable to deepening my knowledge and understanding of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the varying elements at work both in capital accumulation and participation.

Before the conference, I hypothesized the gender funding gap as smaller than believed, because it correlated more with the industries pursued by each gender than the effect of gender bias. However, throughout the conference, my theory was continually challenged – a necessary element to truly grow my understanding of the entrepreneurial space.

One conference session focused on how the private sector can promote more diverse entrepreneurs and investors. The two-hour session proved to be the most memorable for me. While I learned many valuable lessons and takeaways, the challenge posed by the session provided me with my greatest insight. Each panelist in this session was asked what they believed to be the “biggest bottleneck” for entrepreneurs. The panelists unanimously agreed that in order to increase the number of diverse entrepreneurs, the number of diverse investors must increase. With this consensus, the next step becomes – how do we increase the number of diverse investors? Going forward, I plan to consciously pursue answers to this unanswered question in my quest to be a positive force for change in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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