Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Linkblogging: Women Entrepreneurs

  • The Gulf Daily News has an interview with Huda Janahi, the first Bahraini woman to receive the GCC Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Getting a commercial registration (CR) was the biggest obstacle as I was told at the Labour Ministry that only males were allowed a CR for cargo businesses. However, there was a misunderstanding. When I joined the United Nations Development Organisation (Unido) for its Arab Regional Centre for Entrepreneurship and Investment Training (Arceit), I told them my problem and they said there was no law that stated that women cannot get CRs for cargo businesses. They advised me to go to the ministry after they contacted officials there and soon I was granted a CR.
  • An article in the Maryland features Jennifer D. Collins, recently honored by Enterprising Women magazine.
Jennifer D. Collins had been steadily growing the event-planning company she started in 1997 until the hospitality industry was hit hard by the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. People stopped traveling to hold meetings, so she had to tap into her communications expertise to also provide clients with meeting strategies to keep her business afloat, she said.
To be sure, getting your MBA isn't a prerequisite for becoming a successful entrepreneur. But one thing is for certain, at least according to our sources at some of the nation's top-ranked MBA programs: Whether you're looking for a program with the best professors, the best classroom experience or the greatest opportunity for women, business schools are the place to be--especially if you are interested in innovation, entrepreneurship and real-life case studies.
  • Business Opportunist blog posts about niche marketing for home-based businesses:
You don’t have access to viable means and amenities to compete directly with large business houses and serve a broad spectrum of consumers. In such an adverse business scenario, niche marketing emerges as the most feasible and cost effective strategy that can help home business owners to stay ahead of their competitors and maximize their profits.

To Our Credit Microfinance Documentary

Here's a clip from a Rooy Media produced PBS documentary about microcredit in the US.
Rooy Media LLC has created over fifty programs that educate people about important social issues. This video clip is a sample from To Our Credit: Bootstrap Banking in America, a PBS documentary that profiles microenterprise development, an important new self-help strategy that shows significant promise in the fight to combat poverty in America. The
Rooy Media website has a whole microfinance section so check it out.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Women With Mojo

Just for fun, here's a series from (a web video magazine) on the top 50 women with mojo, as determined by the show's viewers.
You can see the individual clips for each woman here. The list is pretty celebrity-heavy.
What do you think? Who are your top women with mojo?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Brooks Times Op-Ed on Social Entrepreneurship

This New York Times Op-Ed from David Brooks talks about social entrepreneurship:

America Forward, a consortium of these entrepreneurs, wants government to do domestic policy in a new way. It wants Washington to expand national service (to produce more social entrepreneurs) and to create a network of semipublic social investment funds. These funds would be administered locally to invest in community-run programs that produce proven results. The government would not operate these social welfare programs, but it would, in essence, create a network of semipublic Gates Foundations that would pick winners based on stiff competition.
There’s obviously a danger in getting government involved with these entrepreneurs. Government agencies are natural interferers, averse to remorseless competition and quick policy shifts. Nonetheless, these funds are worth a try.
The funds would head us toward this new policy model, in which government sets certain accountability standards but gives networks of local organizations the freedom to choose how to meet them. President Bush’s faith-based initiative was a step in this direction, but this would be broader.
Furthermore, we might as well take advantage of this explosion of social entrepreneurship. These are some of the smartest and most creative people in the country. Even if we don’t know how to reduce poverty, it’s probably worth investing in these people and letting them figure it out.
They won’t stop bugging us until we do.
Not sure why this is an opinion rather than a news report, but Brooks is certainly self-fulfilling his prophecy when he says that "Fashions in goodness change, just like fashions in anything else, and these days some of the very noblest people have assumed the manners of the business world — even though they don’t aim for profit."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Contra Costa Ribbon Cutting

We're very excited about our new Contra Costa County office in Concord. We just had our opening/ribbon-cutting ceremony last week and The Contra Costa Times wrote an article about it.

For those of you keeping count, that's our sixth official office! (The others are San Francisco, Oakland Downtown, Oakland Fruitvale, San Rafael, and San Jose.)
Continue reading "Contra Costa Ribbon Cutting" »

Wednesday Linkblogging: Women Entrepreneurs

Reality is women are still unsafe, insecure, jobless and weak from malnutrition. She continues to be repressed, forced to abort her children, and if allowed to give birth at all, to abandon her own flesh and blood or face social ostracization unless society approves of the way it was conceived. She still cannot adopt easily, she cannot sign for her own surgery (kisiko saath mein layein hain aap?)or admit her children to school if the father refuses to acknowledge them. In most cases she is still deprived of her father’s property on one flimsy pretext or the other. She still can’t rent a house easily if she is alone in a strange city. (People think she is going to have sex and produce illegitimate babies or generally create some trouble or the other
  • Tulsa World has an interview with Yvonne Hovell, the only African American female Chrysler dealer in the country. Here's a little insight into owning a franchise.

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Media Women Entrepreneurs

Nmwe_logoWow, what a great project! The New Media Women Entrepreneurs:
will fund three women-led start-ups that will generate new ideas in the world of news and information and model a spirit of journalistic entrepreneurship. Winners will be given $10,000 to launch their ideas and blog about the process over the next year.
NMWE is a unique initiative addressing opportunity and innovation, recruitment and retention for women in journalism by spotlighting their ingenuity and entrepreneurial abilities. Pilot projects will show what can be done. Research will tell us what more to do. And an awards program and summit will showcase women’s creative ideas. NMWE is supported by the McCormick Tribune Foundation.
Application deadline is May 1, 2008! You can get all the info you need here.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

First Lady Visits Women's Initiative!

Shriver_at_swarmWe had an exciting week last week. California's First Lady Maria Shriver visited our Oakland office and three client sites, including Svea Vezzone's Swarm Gallery, where we held a reception in her honor.
The visit was organized to announce Shriver's statewide initiative or invest in women entrepreneurs, called "We Invest." Shriver committed $100,000 to Women's Initiative to support 100 women's training.
The Oakland Tribune had a great article about it:
"When you give a man a loan, you help him. When you give a woman a loan, you help her children, her family and her community," said Shriver, explaining that it was in the women's nature to pass the good along.
... The event was held at SWARM Gallery on Second Street, the business of Svea Lin Vezzone, a graduate of the Women's Initiative. Before she made her appearance at the gallery, Shriver visited the businesses oftwo other graduates, Sheron Campbell, the owner of World of Braids, and Allison Barakat, the proprietor of Bakesale Betty who employs 75 workers.
Shriver, dismissing the many praises being showered upon her when she took the stage, reminded her audience that she had never started a business as they had.
"I'm completely in awe of you," she said.
The Women's Conference is an annual event launched by the governor that unites 60 world leaders with 14,000 women in one arena to share stories of success and life lessons.
... The launch of WE Invest was announced at the Women's Conference in October. Shriver said she picked Oakland for the launch venue "because I've wanted to do something in Oakland. I wanted to start in a place that really needed it."
We're not sure what to be more excited about: the money (which will help us help 100 more women with trainings and loans), the publicity (which will help bring in both support and new clients), or getting to meet the first lady!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday Linkblogging: Microenterprise

One blessing of microenterprise is that it gives people a taste for entrepreneurship; many like the life so much, they go on to run a string of small but successful enterprises. Makela began his first elder-care center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and operated it for five years. Then he and his wife decided business ownership had lost its luster and sold the center. But after only a year or so, they found they missed the flexibility and independence of running their own show and found an existing center they could take over.
"This type of business is certainly not for everyone," says Makela. "We both work almost every day for at least part of the day. But, at the same time, we have a lot more time and money for our hobbies, recreation and our [children] than most people do." Those attractions are what keep microbusiness blooming despite the obstacles.
The non-government organisations that run micro-credit business have failed to help the ultra-poor come out of poverty trap and get self-employed with dignity, resulting in scourge like monga — seasonal joblessness, economists have said.
They also criticised the government’s manpower training bureau and overseas recruiting agencies in the private sector for failing to create job opportunities for the northern poor.
... ‘Yes! Micro-credit can pay dividends to moderate poor and be effective only if the economy grows in a healthy manner.’ Both Muzaffer and Akbar termed the monga ‘nothing but a poverty syndrome’, let alone a seasonal distress, because income opportunities have not been created.
"Monga" means famine, by the way.
No NGOs are allowed to do microfinancing without the licences from MRA under a law that came into effect on 27 August 2006.

“We've no mechanism of our own to detect NGOs engaged in micro-financing without licences,” a top official of the MRA said in the wake of recent scandals.

In the last couple of weeks, some NGOs disappeared with around Tk 500 crore after swindling poor villagers in northern districts.
... According to government statistics, there are some 49,000 NGOs registered under the Social Welfare Department, about 10,0000 under the Cooperative and Joint Stock Companies and another about 2,000 under the NGO Affairs Bureau.
With rapid economic development, for years the banks have easily granted small loans, raking in very high rates of interest. Now many professionals, small businessmen, and farmers are no longer able to pay. Experts: the phenomenon is contained, but there is the risk that it could expand.
... In February, the government said it will cover 15 billion dollars in debts held by farmers.  Many have observed that this will not so much help the rural population - which is in any case strangled by rising costs for fertilisers and petrol, and by the pollution of irrigation water - as it will the credit institutions, which will immediately recover the entire value of loans with difficult prospects of repayment.
  • has fellowships and sends their fellows out to the field ... from whence they blog! It's a pretty extensive blog. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How To Avoid Being Blindsided In Business

An interview from First Wives World with Amy Dorn Kopelan, Executive Director of Coach Me, which:
teaches women how to "master the subtle skills and unwritten rules" necessary for career advancement and leadership. The COACH ME Institute specializes in group coaching, business education, and professional development programs that target emerging talent. COACH ME's research-based curriculum gives women the edge to maximize their individual potential and nurture their initiative. The Institute helps companies develop and retain their bench strength inside the corporation.
COACH ME targets:
  • Women with talent and promise who cannot afford professional coaching on their own
  • Women in middle management or first-line managers who want to take on leadership roles
  • Women from underserved multicultural populations who want to leverage their unique talents
She's marketing a book on this topic, but there's some good advice about taking power in this video.