Virginia Littlejohn (she/her/hers) is Co-Founder and President of Quantum Leaps, Inc., a global accelerator for women’s entrepreneurship, that works to identify and fill gaps in the women entrepreneurial ecosystem. She was VP Public Affairs and later President of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) in the US; worked closely with the presidential Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise; led the advocacy campaign that made the Office of Women’s Business Ownership in the US Small Business Administration permanent; led NAWBO’s participation in the 1986 White House Conference on Small Business; and was a primary architect of the US Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, which resulted from Congressional hearings that she helped organize. She also served two terms on the National Women’s Business Council, advising Congress, the Small Business Administrator, and the US President, and has testified at numerous legislative hearings.
Ms. Littlejohn was Vice President of the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs, the OECD’s Senior Advisor for 3 global best practice conferences on women’s entrepreneurship in Paris and Istanbul in 1997, 2000 and 2004, and 2 regional best practice conferences focused on the Middle East and North Africa in Istanbul in 2005 and 2006. She created the Global Banking Alliance for Women (recently renamed the Financial Alliance for Women), which is now in more than 140 countries, and co-incubated WEConnect International, which certifies women’s businesses in 50 countries. She has worked with IBM in 18 countries and worked with women entrepreneurial leaders from 130 countries. Ms. Littlejohn helped incubate FutureForward to drive women entrepreneurial engagement with innovation. In this capacity, she has worked with IBM Watson on design thinking to train high-growth women suppliers on big data and analytics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, Blockchain, and other advanced and emerging technologies. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Foundation of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), recently ranked by Nature magazine as ninth globally for scientific research and number 1 in Japan.
From 2010 to 2018, Ms. Littlejohn served as Lead International Consultant for the Women & Trade program for the International Trade Centre (a joint agency of the UN and the World Trade Organization in Geneva). She created ITC’s SheTrades Call to Action and has conducted capacity building on supply chain readiness for ITC’s SheTrades Global initiative. In 2020, she helped ITC develop global definitions of women-owned and led firms, due to become ISO standards. She represented the US at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India in 2017, where she spoke on Women in Trade & Global Value Chains. In 2021 she worked with Banyan Global to develop website content for the US Agency for International Development on how to create a women’s public procurement program.
Ms. Littlejohn participated as a women’s entrepreneurship expert for Turkey in the Women20 in 2015 in Istanbul, and chaired or co-chaired the US Delegation to the W20 Summit in Argentina in 2018, Japan in 2019, Saudi Arabia in 2020 and Italy in 2021. She chaired the Digital Inclusion Group for Germany’s W20 in 2017, and informally coordinated women entrepreneurial issues for W20s in Germany and Argentina. She co-chaired the W20’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Working Group for Japan, Saudi Arabia and Italy, which also included Finance for Japan and Italy. She is currently global coordinator for the W20’s Women Entrepreneurs Act (WE Act) initiative, which drives action and implementation on multi-year policy initiatives, including gender-responsive public procurement, and is also an advisor to the Women7’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Working Group in 2022.
Ms. Littlejohn has received dozens of US and international awards, including being the US Small Business Administration’s first Women in Business Advocate of the Year; winner of the Enterprising Women Hall of Fame; a winner of WBENC’s Applause Award; the Priyadarshini Award from the Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs; and 3 Lifetime Achievement Awards from The International Alliance for Women (TIAW), America-China Business Women’s Alliance, and the Stevie Women in Business Awards. In September 2021, Forbes magazine named her to their Women 50 over 50 list, for her decades of global work on investment and women’s entrepreneurship. She has also served on SME advisory boards for American Express, IBM and Walmart, and lived, worked in, or traveled to 96 countries. She has lived outside of the United States for two decades. This includes having lived in Asia for six years, in Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. She has also served on the APEC Women Leaders Network for ten years, and done extensive work in India and China.
Ms. Littlejohn is married, lives in Fairfax, VA, USA, and has two sons and a 10-year-old granddaughter.