As many of you know, one of our core values is supporting women founders through the Standard Chartered Women in Tech Incubator. Besides bringing prominent women speakers to the City College of New York, and establishing a competition built specifically for women-led teams, Standard Chartered helps us open up doors and networking opportunities for our women entrepreneurs. One of the recent examples of this was attending the Anita Borg Institute’s 2nd Annual Women’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Summit here in New York.
The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) for Women and Technology is a nonprofit organization founded by computer scientist Anita Borg. The institute’s primary aim is to recruit, retain, and advance women in technology. The institute’s most prominent program is the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, the world’s largest gathering of women in computing. ABI was founded on the belief that women are vital to building technology that the world needs. It was their founder that said, “Around the world, women are not full partners in driving the creation of new technology that will define their lives. This is not good for women and not good for the world….Women need to assume their rightful place at the table creating the technology of the future.” Today, ABI works with women technologists in over 50 countries, and partners with leading academic institutions and Fortune 500 companies.
The 2nd Annual Women’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Summit brought together women entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, students, and community members for workshops on topics ranging from how to manage conflict at work to a discussion about investment in women-led companies. Two of our own founders–Reylyn Roldan (of Gol) and Leila Hessam (of Enrich)–attended the summit and shared their thoughts.
Both young women were especially inspired by the workshop on imposter syndrome, led by founder of the Collective of Us, Cyndie Spiegel. “The discussion around imposter syndrome was very powerful. It was incredible to hear that ‘fear is not real,’ but only a feeling. As an entrepreneur, I know it’s inevitable to not fear something, and that it does have physical effects (pit in your stomach, sweating, etc.), but that you can take action in spite of it. You can take that fear and leverage it, use it to your advantage.”
Leila agreed. “As someone about to graduate from college, I feel like I’m in limbo. I don’t know exactly what my next journey in life will be, and with that uncertainty comes a bit of fear.” Leila was impressed with the summit’s ability to incorporate advice for all “levels.” She shared, “Sometimes I go to conferences and workshops and they’re either tailored to students or professionals, not usually both. What I liked about this summit is that they incorporated a track for every type of person, whether you were a student looking to get into entrepreneurship or tech, or someone making a career change, this was the place for you.”
Both young entrepreneurs also enjoyed listening to more specific discussions. Reylyn, who leads Gol, a social enterprise initiative aimed at alleviating the water crisis in the developing world, was excited to hear Anie Akpe. Her discussion about how to get into the social enterprise space was enlightening to Reylyn. “I really enjoyed how she talked about social impact,” said Reylyn. “She said ‘social innovation doesn’t happen here, it happens in the third world.’ That hit home for me. Often, we get caught up in our own notions of what others need, that we forget what the real problem is.”
Reylyn was also impressed with Anie Akpe’s ability to ask for exactly what she needed. She explained that when working for a social enterprise, you’ll have to get creative about how to use your network to help your clients. Instead of asking for donations, she asks for skills–workshop leaders, finance help, etc.–which gets her more in the long run.
For a full recap of the workshops and discussions at the summit, you can still watch the livestream here: https://livestream.com/internetsociety/weif17/videos