Archive for the 'Economic growth' Category

President and CEO Julie Smolyansky on “Following Your Gut”

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This past Wednesday September 12th, President and CEO of Lifeway Kefir, Julie Smolyansky lead a wegg® workshop about the importance of following your gut on business and personal endeavors. Her inspiring talk covered the journey of Lifeway beginning in her parent’s basement, in the mid-eighties, when they began making Kefir, a food inspired by their home country, the former Soviet Union.  It is now a $120 million publicly-traded company, thanks to Julie. She grew Lifeway to the size it is now, without a business degree, and became CEO at age 27, when her father suddenly passed away. Smolyansky shared the story of how one of her father’s friends reacted when he died and she was made CEO…

“[He said] ‘forget it, the company is done. Sell all of your stock tomorrow. There’s no way a 27 year old girl could run a company.’ This is done. Lifeway is over…I go into the office Monday morning…and everyone had sold their stock….It was devastating…[I] picked my head up and moved forward. Then, we had 70 people, today we have 320. We’ve grown our business from 12 million to 120 million…We continued to execute on the strategy we believed in, and continued to follow our gut, and worked really really hard….That man who said ‘she’s never gonna do it,’…I literally think about him every day. I say ‘thank you’, ‘thank you so much for underestimating me, for pissing me off, and making me angry…You gave me the fuel to move forward.”

Smolyansky went on to describe how being a young CEO became a strength for her. She followed her gut and made Lifeway one of the first businesses ever to have an active social media presence. She explained, “We were ahead of the game…Vogue called us ‘avant garde’ for being on social media.”

She also shared her beliefs on the importance of female entrepreneurship,

“If women were employed at the same rates as men, we know the global GDP would rise exponentially…That I think is really important. A rising tide raises all ships, and when women create jobs, an entire community is more safe and stable….Women are the key to saving the world…Entrepreneurship…can heal the world.”

Other inspiring takeaways from Smolyansky’s talk…

  • Keep moving ahead no matter what your challenges are in life.
  • Make a big impact:  it only takes one person one step at a time to change the world.
  • Follow your gut (we should all listen to our intuition on important matters in life).

Thank you to Julie, and her team, Justine and Maria, for making our on-the-ground wegg® workshop a success.  And thank you to Bank of America, Moji Eagan and Aneta Mazur, for hosting us.

If you were not able to make this wegg® workshop, we are having a wegginar® on Wednesday, October 3rd with Katie Kollhoff, CEO, NUMIX.  She’ll present on “Small Startup, Big Impact.”  Thanks to our sponsors, IBM, UPS, Bank of America and GlobalCare Clinical Trials, the program is no charge but you must register to attend, here.

Women Entrepreneurship in the EU: The Numbers

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On a global scale, women are less likely than men to start their own businesses. This is evident from the above graph, taken from the “Policy Brief on Women’s Entrepreneurship.” The data shows that in every EU country, from 2010-14, there were significantly less female owners of new businesses, than male.

Why is this the reality?

The OECD SME and Entrepreneurship analysis proposes that a:

“…key factor in explaining the gender gap is the social and institutional context [of the countries]. Paradoxically, national-level gender equality is negatively associated with women’s self-employment choice compared to men’s (Klyver et. al., 2013), suggesting that gender equality policies in the labour market may cause women to prefer employment over self-employment (Nielsen et. al., 2010). Similarly, more supportive work-family institutions are associated with larger gender gaps in terms of business size, growth aspirations, innovativeness and use of technology. This appears to indicate that it is important to look beyond simple proportions of women and men entrepreneurs to the motivations and quality of the business, with the hypothesis that greater gender equality may improve good quality businesses and business creation based on positive choices by women, while reducing poorer quality business creation based on lack of choice.”

One of the economic reasons that women might choose employment over the entrepreneurial self-employed path, is that self-employed women make less money than self employed men, on average. This finding is displayed in the graphic below:

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Other factors, such as lack of resources and training for women in business, are consistently cited as justification for the lack of women entrepreneurs in the global . market. This apparent neglect of a business education for women is highlighted in the graph below:

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As displayed by the image, at least thirteen out of the twenty-two countries in the EU showed a significant gender gap in perceived accessibility to business training. This is where wegg™ can help. Our mission is to educate, inspire and nurture women business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide on how to go global so they can run healthier businesses and create a new future for themselves, their families and their community.

We provide monthly resources for women entrepreneurs to become educated on current business strategies in order to go global. If you are interested in entering business, or growing the business you already have, wegg™ can help you. Please check out our website, to discover possibilities you did not even know existed.

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JOIN us for our morning wegg™ workshop on September 12th and hosted by Bank of America (135 S. LaSalle Street, 44th Floor).  Julie Smolyansky, President and CEO, Lifeway Foods, will present “Follow Your Gut,” covering:

  • How global factors influence company values and mission
  • Why we should empower women entrepreneurs around the world
  • How to channel inspiration from travel experiences into marketing initiatives

Tickets $40 ($20 for students); includes Continental Breakfast.  To learn more and to register, visit:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/weggtm-workshop-follow-your-gut-presented-by-julie-smolyansky-tickets-48655708534
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How Mastercard is Investing in Women Entrepreneurs in Developing Nations

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In Michelle Martin’s recent Forbes article, “How Mastercard Could Close A $300 Billion Credit Gap For Women Entrepreneurs,” she reports,

“As of 2017, 70% of women-owned MSMEs [micro, small and medium-sized enterprises] in the developing world lack access to adequate financing, representing a $300 billion credit gap each year.”

This major finance inequality stems from MSMEs not having access to a digital record of transactions or the resources required by banks to obtain credit. Because of these issues, women entrepreneurs, in places such as Nairobi Kenya, are not able to gain the capital needed to purchase inventory in order to expand their enterprises. Expanding a business is critical to the success of a business, and makes it possible for the entrepreneur to potentially achieve success on a global level.

Thanks to Mastercard, this $300 billion credit breach is about to change. The corporation is launching technology, through the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, to aide women owned MSMEs in these countries. Martin explains,

“In partnership with Unilever, Mastercard recently launched the Jaza Duka program in Kenya, where they created a first-of-its-kind digital lending platform. The unique platform tracks how much Unilever product a store owner has purchased over time and combines that data with an analysis by Mastercard. The results are used to provide a micro-credit eligibility recommendation to Kenya Commercial Bank, who can then provide an interest-free credit line.”

The venture is already being met with success. In one instance, a Kenyan entrepreneur named Lucy Njoki, has been able to increase her sales at her shop by twenty-percent, thanks to the Jaza Duka program.

To read Martin’s full piece, and an interview she conducted with one of the executives of this Mastercard program, Shamina Singh, click here.

This support of global women entrepreneurs is the kind of change that we here at wegg™ are proud to watch. If you or a woman entrepreneur you know is trying to “go global,” we would love to help you, too.

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JOIN us for our morning wegg™ workshop on September 12th and hosted by Bank of America (135 S. LaSalle Street, 44th Floor).  Julie Smolyansky, President and CEO, Lifeway Foods, will present “Follow Your Gut,” covering:

  • How global factors influence company values and mission
  • Why we should empower women entrepreneurs around the world
  • How to channel inspiration from travel experiences into marketing initiatives

Tickets $40 ($20 for students); includes Continental Breakfast.  To learn more and to register, visit:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/weggtm-workshop-follow-your-gut-presented-by-julie-smolyansky-tickets-48655708534
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Closing the Confidence Gap is Key for Female Entrepreneurial Success

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In a recent Forbes article entitled, “What It Will Take For Women Entrepreneurs To Take Over The World,” author Carrie Kerpen explores what disadvantages women entrepreneurs face in our current market. Kerpen interviews Margaret Donnell, chief marketing officer of Capital One’s Small Business Bank, on how women can subvert the obstacles in their way, in order to succeed. Kerpen’s thesis is: closing the confidence gap between men and women will be a crucial factor in trying to level the entrepreneurial playing field.

Donnell attests the gender pay gap between men and women to be one of the main reasons women business owners are less confident than their male counterparts. She reasons,

“We have pretty clear evidence around us. We’ve seen studies out in media, I certainly have, that document a wage gap between men and women. It means that women don’t always have as much money as men because of that earning power. It also means that their confidence could have been eroded over time, and so I think there’s a lot we can do to lift each other up, and men as allies can lift women up, to help them feel confident and go after getting into business.”

Lacking in confidence can be a hindering quality for any business owner. Not having faith in oneself can lead to a fear of risk. One such risk could be the venture of expanding your SME into a global business, an important move for entrepreneurs.

A potential fear of risk taking is evident in statistics. Kerpen reports,

“…despite feeling more positive about their businesses than their male counterparts, female business owners are more hesitant to take big swings and heavily invest in their companies. According to the same Capital One report, 75 percent of men are likely to hire in the next year, compared to 63 percent of women.”

How do you think women can support and encourage each other to make the bold moves necessary for success in business? How can we increase our confidence to achieve heights greater than we could have ever imagined?

Read several proposed solutions to this issue, in Kerpen’s article, linked here.

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JOIN us for our morning wegg™ workshop on September 12th and hosted by Bank of America (135 S. LaSalle Street, 44th Floor).  Julie Smolyansky, President and CEO, Lifeway Foods, will present “Follow Your Gut,” covering:

  • How global factors influence company values and mission
  • Why we should empower women entrepreneurs around the world
  • How to channel inspiration from travel experiences into marketing initiatives

Tickets $40 ($20 for students); includes Continental Breakfast.  To learn more and to register, visit:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/weggtm-workshop-follow-your-gut-presented-by-julie-smolyansky-tickets-48655708534
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Women Entrepreneurs, the Global Market Needs You

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According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, In 2016, 97% of all exporters in the U.S. were small and medium-sized companies. The other statistic from this study that can’t be ignored is that only 12% of businesses that export are owned by women. Why are more women not accessing the vast world that is global business?

In Devishobha Chandramouli’s recent Entrepreneur article, “6 Global Trends Reveal How Women Are Redefining Entrepreneurship,” she reports the ways in which women entrepreneurs are critical to the global market. Within Chandramouli’s findings, WEGG founder, Laurel Delaney, reports on why women are often absent from business at a global level:

“Even in a developed economy, women business owners are less likely to explore and expand their products or services because they think they can’t do it, or that they don’t have access to the right training, education, advisory networks, mentorships and community programs. This perceived deficiency makes it difficult for women to access markets, conduct marketing and establish relationships.”

If women do not believe they are capable of global success, they will not achieve it. The secret is, that women are not only capable of global business, but are also exponentially beneficial to their communities when they have it. Chandramouli notes,

“As globalization is breaking down the barriers that limited businesses by cultures, gender and geography, many partnership and trade agreements have been developed in an attempt to encourage global economic activity among women. Women are known to give back about 90 percent of their earnings to the health and education of their communities and families, contributing to development directly, so it’s easy to see why it is critical.”

Women entrepreneurs, the global market needs you.

You can read Chandramouli’s article here, to learn more about how women have the ability to transform global business, for the better, from within.

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Why go global?  How do you start?  Where can you find customers?  How do you get paid?  Find out these answers and learn other best-kept secrets to expanding a business globally. 

JOIN us for our first weggchat™ (#weggchat) Wednesday, August 8 from 11:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. (noon) Central time on Take Your Business Global! and facilitated by Laurel Delaney, President of WEGG and founder of GlobeTrade.com.  Laurel will field questions and add insights on how to take a business global.  Small business owners can join the conversation by using the hashtag #weggchat to chime in with questions and answers.

Event is free of charge but you must use tchat.io or twubs.com to follow the conversation using the hashtag #weggchat.  See you there!
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Building Confidence in Global Women Entrepreneurs Ensures They Will Thrive in the Business World

As we are fully aware through our work at WEGG, opportunities for women entrepreneurs have been growing globally at a fast pace.  Take India, for example, where the number of women entrepreneurs is mushrooming, but it is very small when compared to the opportunities the market has to offer.

Recently, Mastercard, a technology company in the global payments industry, released the second edition of the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE). Shamina Singh, president, Mastercard Centre for Inclusive Growth, speaks to Jui Dharwadkar [Hindustran Times, Pune] about the findings of this [2nd] index.

Read more here.  And the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) can be found here.

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Note: Don’t miss our next WEGGinar™ 5/9/18 on “Building Your Global Brand Through Podcasting” and presented by Kathrin Bussmann, Ph.D., founder and principal, Verbaccino. Register here. Event is free of charge but you must register in advance to attend.
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GES: Keen to Support Women Entrepreneurs In Every Possible Way

The “Road to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) Series in Odisha, India,” brings together industry leaders, start-ups, serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors as well as enablers of the innovation ecosystem such as government, international agencies and industry associations not only from India but across the globe.  One of the top areas of focus is on women entrepreneurship and gender equality.

The leading woman entrepreneur of the state, Odisha Television Network Director Jagi Mangat Panda, says:

“The most important part of women empowerment is to create an entrepreneurial culture which can only happen if issues concerning women are addressed at the grassroots level. There are gender biases and stereotypes that are so deeply entrenched in our society that a simple passage of a law will not be able to take care of it, rather some extraordinary efforts have to be taken.”

Read more about the road to Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017, which celebrates women entrepreneurship.

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Note: Don’t miss our next WEGGinar™ 12/6/17 on “Harnessing the Power of Diversity and Inclusion:  Creating a Workplace that Works” and presented by Joselyn DiPetta, Google and Managing Partner at Present Possibility. Register here:
https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1837790091765976835
Event is free of charge but you must register in advance to attend.
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Women Entrepreneurs: A Global Phenomenon

In recent years, the rate of women entrepreneurs has been growing at a percentage at least double that of their male counterparts. And as Elaine Pofeldt for CNBC says, “the Golden Age for women entrepreneurs has finally begun. The stars have aligned to help trigger the trend as robust ecosystems churn out enterprising females equipped with inspiration, know-how and funding.”  We could not agree more.

Ms. Pofeldt goes on to say that a microcosm of the trend is CNBC’S inaugural Upstart 25 list, where 10 of the company fledglings were founded by women in a host of industries — from neuroscience to finance to retail.

Meanwhile, in the 40 economies participating in the sweeping Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey in both 2011 and 2016, women’s entrepreneurship rates rose by 13 percent on average, while male rates increased by 5 percent, according to lead author Donna Kelley, a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, which prepares the report with Baruch College.  The growth has been very swift in recent years.

Learn more about why women entrepreneurs will be the economic force to reckon with in 2017 and in years to come.

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Note: Don’t miss our next WEGGinar™ 12/6/17 on “Harnessing the Power of Diversity and Inclusion:  Creating a Workplace that Works” and presented by Joselyn DiPetta, Google and Managing Partner at Present Possibility. Register here:
https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1837790091765976835
Event is free of charge but you must register in advance to attend.
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WEGG Mission

Our mission is to educate, inspire and nurture women business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide on how to go global so they can run healthier businesses and create a new future for themselves, their families and their community.


Women Entrepreneurs GROW Global is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. EIN/Tax ID #47-2956522.

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