Friday, June 25, 2010

Job Creation Through Microenterprise

Women's Initiative has released a new research paper on “Job Creation through Microenterprise Development.”

The research shows that our training support program is a proven method of job creation. In 2009, when major corporations were downsizing and announcing layoffs, Women’s Initiative graduates created 2,244 jobs. Other highlights of the research include:

·Nine in ten clients are employed or self-employed twelve months after training.
·More than six in ten are self-employed twelve months after training.
·One year after training more than one in ten clients provided part-time, full-time, temporary and contract jobs for others.
·Five years after training, more than one in five provided jobs for others, with an average of nearly two jobs provided for others per client.
·For every 100 women who receive training, an average of 245 local jobs are created and retained five years after graduation.
·With an average cost of $1,525 per woman served, a $1 million investment in Women’s Initiative’s programs would result in 132 new jobs being created within 12 months and a total of 480 new jobs in five years.

Congratulations to the strong clients of Women's Initiative who are having a significant impact on the Bay Area economy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Finding your tribe of support


I attended two very inspirational events last week. And although the speakers had extremely different backgrounds, their messages were quite similar and right in line with the Women’s Initiative philosophy.
On Thursday, I attended the ERA luncheon with keynote speaker Arianna Huffington. Arianna talked about the need for women to not only break the glass ceiling and achieve success, but to do it differently. Women, she said, do things with empathy, which is exactly what the world needs now. If the Lehman Brothers had been the Lehman Sisters, things would be a lot different today!
She also talked about the personal obstacles women face, including facing our own worst critic in ourselves. Arianna refers to her inner critic as her ‘obnoxious roommate’. This is the voice that tells you you can’t do it, you’re too old, you’re too fat, you don’t know what you’re doing. The challenge is getting past that inner critic. Arianna’s book On Becoming Fearless addresses this and says that fearlessness is not the absence of fear, but the ability to not let your fears stop you. The key she said is to form our own tribe of people who support us. People who lift us up and tell the obnoxious roommate to shut up.
On Friday morning, I went to the Women’s Initiative North Bay Fundraising Breakfast. We had several guest speakers, including our own charismatic Julie Abrams, and Alison Davis from Belvedere Capital, one of the most influential women in Bay Area business. But the most powerful speaker that morning was Mara.
Mara is a recent graduate of Women’s Initiative. Mara’s background is about as far from Arianna Huffington’s as you could imagine. Her mother was an alcoholic so Mara was left to care for her younger siblings as her mother was either absent or unable to care for them. Her father physically abused her mother. At 17 Mara could no longer take it and ran away from home, despite the guilt she felt at leaving her younger siblings. She soon married her boyfriend and found herself with two babies and in a not much better situation than what she had left. Her husband was verbally abusive, telling Mara that she was useless, that she would never survive on her own, and that her children would starve.
Despite that, Mara did find the strength to leave. Shortly after, she saw an interview on television with a Women’s Initiative graduate. A Latina like herself who had started her own business and become successful. Inspired but scared, Mara called Women’s Initiative and signed up for the business training course. There, she found a warm, caring group of women who never told her that she couldn’t do it, but only gave her words of encouragement and helped her discover her own path to success. She had found her own tribe of supportive women.
Mara’s goal is to start a local publication for Latina women that addresses the issues of domestic violence, self esteem, raising children in the United States and other issues that Latinas face. Mara doesn’t just want to succeed, but she wants to give back and help other women.
I’m confident that Mara will succeed, and that she will do it differently. She will do it with empathy and with a tribe of supporters.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cause of Death: Bad Neighborhoods

Although life expectancy in the US has increased by 30 years in the last century, if you live in a neighborhood with high poverty rates, chances are, you and your family can’t expect to live as long as those living in affluent communities. People who live in West Oakland die an average of 10 years earlier than those who live the Berkeley Hills and Bay View/Hunter’s Point residents die 14 years earlier than those living on Russian Hill.

A report published in Race Poverty and the Environment, a project of Urban Habitat shows that the neighborhood you live in directly impacts your health.

Bob Prentice, Director of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) writes that physical and social improvements such as food and water sanitations, workplace and traffic safety, declines in tobacco use, and housing conditions have contributed more to life expectancy than advances in antibiotics and vaccines over the past century.

Community economic development may have more than an economic impact on low-income communities; it may help people in these communities live longer and healthier lives. Women’s Initiative has been awarded a grant from the UCSF’s University Community Partnerships Council to investigate the relationship between economic development and health. Together with our university partners, Dr. Claire Brindis and Dr. Mary Kreger and at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF Women’s Initiative will be studying the impact of microenterprise development on community health and well-being, especially that of mothers and their children.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Miss Karen's Krew"

Recent Women's Initiative graduate Oriana Bolden created this heartwarming video about her Simple Steps class at Women's Initiative, led by trainer Karen Auguste. These 3 short minutes really capture the warmth, support and community that happens in our classes.

Thank you Oriana!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Women's Initiative in San Francisco Magazine

Beautiful article in this month's San Francisco Magazine on 'Reinvention'. Women's Initiative CEO Julie Castro Abrams is quoted and graduates Isabella Guajardo and Emily Dods are featured.