Sep 9, 2022 - Business

New accelerator aims to foster growth in women's health industry

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A new business accelerator will work to breathe life into a profitable, yet underserved research area — women's health.

What's happening: Oklahoma City-based StitchCrew and NWA's FemHealth Founders are creating the FemHealth Accelerator to help develop women-focused health and wellness startups.

  • They're especially interested in companies founded by women or people of color.
  • Part of the effort's funding comes through a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

State of play: Not including cancer research, only about 1% of health care's innovation is invested in female-related conditions, according to one study.

  • Yes, and: Organizations that have women in the C-suite or top management are generally more profitable, another study claims.

Context: Led by three women, FemHealth Founders is working to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem for women's health in the U.S. heartland.

  • StichCrew is a nonprofit focused on connecting underserved entrepreneurs with resources, networks and capital.

Details: Set to start sometime early next year, the eight-week FemHealth Accelerator will accept five companies in its pilot cohort. Programming will be available online to accommodate participants' schedules and locations.

  • Entrepreneurs with a product or service related to the female health care industry can apply, and a committee will select companies.
  • Participants will receive a $10,000 grant that doesn't require any company equity.
  • On completion, the cohort will gather in Bentonville, where they can network with other entrepreneurs and investors.

What they're saying: "Even though we represent 50% of the population … we represent 40% of businesses, 50% of the labor force and 80% of consumer spending … decisions continue to be made for us instead of by us," Erika Lucas, founder of StichCrew and co-founder of angel investment group VEST Her, told Axios.

  • "There're so many [people] in the political environment, it's actually making it worse for women entrepreneurs and … for health providers and for those that are looking to create solutions in the femhealth space," Lucas added.

What's next: StitchCrew and FemHealth Founders are hosting a panel discussion about funding options for women-founded startups and additional details about the FemHealth Accelerator on Sept. 27 from 4:30-6:30pm.


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