CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The state of Illinois was ranked tenth by Merchant Maverick in women-led startups moving into 2023.
Each year the website ranks states in several categories including firms led by women and the percentage of women employees. Merchant Maverick said Illinois moved up by improving its business success rate and making gains in venture capital investments.
The U of I Research Park and EnterpriseWorks is at the forefront of providing women the tools they need to achieve. Director of External Engagement Laura Bleill said having organizations that support women on their entrepreneurial journey are crucial for success.
“We do that through a variety of resources that includes educational workshops,” Bleill said. “Educational courses that teach things like customer discovery. As well as providing mentors.”
One person who took advantage of the opportunities given to her was Bianca Bailey. She is the CEO and founder of Agriwater. The company takes animal waste and turns it into clean water for farmers in the livestock industry.
“We basically inject electricity into the wastewater,” Bailey said. That reaction allows us to precipitate out all of the bad contaminants that are in the water and render water cleaner than it was before.”
Thanks to EnterpriseWorks, Bailey’s company has gotten funding from several partners including the Department of Energy’s Innovation Crossroads Program. She hopes it inspires more companies to take a chance on women.
“When you invest in a woman you invest in a community and you invest in improving the rest of the world,” Bailey said. “Employing more women administratively within incubators like EnterpriseWorks definitely makes a large impact on women being comfortable to even work in the space.”