Empowering the Community: Womxn Entrepreneurs Discuss the Importance of Giving Back
This blog post was written by Emerging Leaders 365 donor and Committee Member Esha Pendarkar-Technical Program Manger at Oracle
On June 24, 2020, United Way of King County held a virtual speaker series, Womxn Entrepreneurs & Community Impact, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center and YP Impact. The event introduced attendees to a panel of local women entrepreneurs. The panel featured Laura Clise (Founder, Intentionalist), Nourah Yonous (Founder, African Women Business Alliance) and Sage Ke’Alohilani Quiamno (Co-founder, Future for Us), and was moderated by Rebekah Bastian (Founder, Own Trail).
The event kicked off with a moving poem, “Allegiance”, recorded by the author, Azura Tyabji, Seattle’s Youth Poet Laureate 2018-2019, followed by a moderated panel discussion, and concluding with audience Q&A.
Through the panel discussion, it was inspiring to hear these women’s’ stories and how they built their businesses from the ground up. They found a social gap and approached it head-on, always keeping in mind the impact on the larger community. It was impactful to hear this message from such strong women of color, especially given the current social climate. They all spoke from a place of authenticity and the passion they had for their business really showed.
Not only are these women great organizational leaders, they also bring their successes back to local communities and help them thrive. I learned that agility is important in a business. When COVID-19 hit, these leaders were able to quickly pivot and shift focus back into affected communities by meeting people where they now were.
As a techie, I live for numbers and data. Hearing that women of color make up only 3% of Fortune 500 C-suites was disheartening (though not surprising). However, it was inspiring to hear that juxtaposed with these women’s success stories and business growth. Despite the lack of diversity in larger corporations, black women are the largest growing pool of entrepreneurs in the United States.
It can be easy to forget the influence that individual community members can really have. We may not be venture capitalists, but we can still contribute to the success of small businesses. We have a choice on where to spend our time and money. It is this intentionality that will help drive minority-owned businesses forward. One of the actions I took away for myself was to be more intentional about my purchases; as local businesses start reopening, I will do my research and aim to patronize those owned by women and minority groups.
Thanks Rebekah, Laura, Nourah, and Sage for sharing your stories! I can’t wait to see the amazing things you accomplish next.
Join us on July 30th for our upcoming virtual Speaker Series with the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Guest Experience at Alaska Airlines. You’ll have a chance to start your year of impact as an Emerging Leaders 365 donor or as a Change Maker. Hope to see you there!