Archive for the 'Education' 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.

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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Unlocking the Full Potential of Women- led SMEs in Indonesia

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In a recent East Asia Forum article, “Unleashing the capabilities of women-led SMEs in Indonesia,” author Naimah Talib reports that 43 percent of the 26 million small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Indonesia are women led or women owned (WSMEs). Not only do these WSMEs make up for ten percent of the country’s GDP, they also lead to social development of the culture by empowering women economically. Besides these major benefits, support of WSMEs aids Indonesia in achieving the UN’s “Sustainable Development Goals”, specifically the tenets of ‘gender equality,’ ‘decent work and economic growth’, and ‘reduced inequality’.

The advantages of backing WSMEs are clear, but why are there limitations on the growth of these organizations? This is the question that Talib proposes. She illustrates just some of the difficulties women who head businesses face. Talib explains,

” …common difficulties for expansion [for WSMEs] include limited access to information about financial support, lack of business and entrepreneurial skills, lack of professional networks and limited government support and services at the local level. Financial support is available for WSMEs, but female entrepreneurs tend to lack information about these options. Female entrepreneurs find that information about government funding programs is often limited, difficult to access or unclear.”

One of Talib’s main arguments suggest that Indonesian policymakers fail to effectively provide WSMEs with the necessary resources to solve these issues. Talib writes of the necessary reform,

“Three areas require greater attention: increasing the accessibility of information, strengthening the institutional capacity of the Creative Economy Agency and improving government services at the local level.”

To read more about the specific solutions posed to the pressing issue of the neglect of Indonesian WSMEs, read the article 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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Middle Market Women-Owned Businesses Are on the Rise

According to the report The Middle Market Power Index:  Economic Might of Middle Market Firms, “Exporting is also increasingly important to middle market firms. While only 6.9% of middle market firms currently export, this number has grown steadily in recent years. The number of middle market companies that export their goods or services has quadrupled during the past six years, surging from 2,766 in 2011 to more than 12,341 in 2017.”

Middle market is defined as firms that have between $10 million and $999 million in revenue.

Middle market firms are increasingly owned by women. The number of women-owned middle market firms has jumped 119.6% from 2011 to 2017, and the total share of women- owned middle market businesses has increased from 6.0% in 2011 to 7.2% in 2017. Middle market firms are also more likely than average to be women-owned enterprises (7.2%) than companies overall (6.5%). As we look toward the future, small businesses that are on the cusp of crossing the middle market threshold − those with between $1 million and $10 million in annual revenues − are even more likely to be women-owned (10.1%).

KEY FINDING:  The number of middle market exporters is increasing rapidly and the number of minority- and women-owned businesses across the U.S. also is on the rise.

Read the report to learn how middle market firms are growing smart and growing globally.

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What is cloud computing?  As an SME, how can you benefit from it?  Find out key growth lessons from more than 50 startup owners using cloud computing. 

Join us for our next WEGGinar™ 7/11/18 on “Intro to Cloud Computing and How It Can Benefit You,” presented by Jayger McGough Tomasino and Carly Kizorek, Technical Evangelists at IBM.  They will give you the scoop on cloud computing, convey how SMEs use it to grow, and even show a demo of IBM Watson services.  Register here.

Event is free of charge but you must register in advance to attend.
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For Women Entrepreneurs the World is Your Market

by Laurel Delaney, President, Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global (WEGG)

In a manifesto I authored in 2004, “Shaking Things Up. Making Things Happen,” I wrote, “In the future, there will be two kinds of enterprises: those that go global and those that die.” Companies should be going global, and it is the women entrepreneurs who are pushing boundaries and targeting the world for business.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Women’s Entrepreneurship Report 2016-2017, “In 2016, an estimated 163 million women were starting or running new businesses in 74 economies around the world. In addition, an estimated 111 million were running established businesses. This not only shows the impact of women entrepreneurs across the globe, but highlights their contributions to the growth and well-being of their societies.”

The report sums up the following on international sales pertaining to women entrepreneurs operating globally.

  • The level of international sales varies dramatically. It is zero or less than 1% in three Latin American countries (Brazil, Guatemala, and Ecuador) and three Asian countries (Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam). However, more than three- fourths of women entrepreneurs in the UAE and over half of women in Saudi Arabia report international sales.

  • In innovation-driven economies, more than one-fifth of women entrepreneurs report 25% or more of sales go to customers outside their economies. This is four times the level of the factor-driven group.

  • Regionally, only 6% of sub-Saharan African women entrepreneurs are internationally oriented, somewhat more than half the level of men. In MENA, 29% of women entrepreneurs are considered international, and at a higher rate than men.

  • North America’s high average [of international sales for women entrepreneurs] is due to Canada, where 32% of women entrepreneurs list at least 25% of sales to international markets. This contrasts with the United States at 9% [hence the reason for organizations such as Chicago-based Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global that support global growth for USA-based women entrepreneurs and business owners].

While I believe that companies must go global, I also recognize that some companies may not lend themselves to that level of production. For example, if you are a mom-and-pop organization making jams and jellies in your kitchen, you could certainly sell a jar or two globally but you might not have the resources, or desire, to compete on a larger scale.

I am a fan of eBay and Amazon for a small-business person selling their wares but I am not a fan of using either platform as a model of going global when it comes to talking about selling a single item to a single customer in a foreign country. True globalization means that an organization is selling a large volume to a wide variety of customers across international borders.

A Website, blog or even a Facebook Page, is a great first step in moving a business out of the local market to the international one. After that, check out governmental resources such as buyusa.gov or export.gov, which both offer myriad information and tips.

You don’t have to do business in your own backyard, because the world is your market. And the technology that we have available to us now is the ramp to launch your business to the next level to boost its performance.

Additional articles and resources available to women entrepreneurs going global:

  1. About WEGG (https://womenentrepreneursgrowglobal.org/about/).
  2. Why Female Entrepreneurs Are the Key to Global Development (https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/girls-twenty/female-entrepreneurs_b_6249784.html).
  3. Women Are Confident in Their Own Businesses and the U.S. Economy, According to the 2014 Sage Business Index (http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/women-are-confident-their-own-businesses-us-economy-according-2014-sage-business-index-1972838.htm)
  4. Women Entrepreneurs Energize Economies (https://www.scribd.com/document/88179690/Enterprising-Women-2012).
  5. Women: Global entrepreneurship is affordable and accessible (https://www.godaddy.com/garage/women-global-entrepreneurship-affordable-accessible/)
  6. 5 Reasons Women are Natural at Going Global (https://www.leader-values.com/article.php?aid=165).
  7. It’s Time for Women To Take on the World (https://thestoryexchange.org/time-women-world/).

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Note:  Did you just bag a customer in Argentina, Ireland or Korea? How do you structure the deal?  Don’t let lack of financing knowledge be the reason you lose the contract.

Join us for our next WEGGinar™ 6/6/18 on “Grow Globally By Offering Competitive Financing Solutions” and presented by Tamara Maxwell, Director, Minority and Women Owned Business & Multiplier Outreach Division, Office of Small Business, Export-Import Bank of the United States.  She will guide you on how to get paid.  In addition, we have added special experts on this WEGGinar™:  Laura Blodgett, who holds both the corporate Treasury Analyst role and the Accounts Receivable/Credit Administrator role for one of the divisions of Jergens, Inc. and Chantal Wittman, WEGG Board Member and VP of International Trade Sales, International Banking Division, MB Financial.  Register here.

Event is free of charge but you must register in advance to attend.
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Putting Wind Behind Global Startups

Photo credit: IIM Bangalore

Are you based in India and thinking of starting a business?  StartupWind, Inc., a digital platform for ideation, design thinking, business model canvassing and business planning  — has on-boarded over 6,000 women entrepreneurs across India as a platform partner of IIM Bangalore’s Women Startup Programme that will provide training, mentoring, networking and financial support to budding Indian women entrepreneurs.

The programme is for women of all ages and educational backgrounds who have been thinking about starting a venture and not knowing how to do it.

The IIM Bangalore programme is coupled with the software framework and tools provided by StartupWind to help women entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life.

At WEGG, we hope to partner with StartupWind to serve as a support arm by providing international expansion training to the Indian women entrepreneurs.

Learn more about the exciting program here.

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Note: Don’t miss our next WEGGinar™ 4/4/18 on “How a Wicked Road Trip to Minturn, Colorado Inspired a Thriving Global Design Business” and presented by Julia Knight, founder of Julia Knight Collections. Register here. Event is free of charge but you must register in advance to attend.
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Women Leading Globally

In honor of International Women’s Day, S. Bronfman Chair in Management at McGill University Nancy Adler, is offering  free of charge a download of her article, “Women Leading Globally: What We Know, Thought We Knew, and Need to Know about Leadership in the 21st Century”, but only for the month of March.

The article recognizes that:

“Whereas most societal commentators continue to review the historical patterns of men’s leadership in search of models for 21st-century success, few have begun to recognize, let alone appreciate, the equivalent patterns of women’s leadership and the future contributions that women could potentially make as leaders. What could and are women bringing to society as global leaders? Why at this moment in history is there such a marked increase in the number of women leaders? Are we entering an era in which both male and female leaders will shape history, both symbolically and in reality? And if so, will we discover that women, on average, lead in different ways than men, or will we learn that role (global leader) explains more than gender? This chapter reveals the accelerating trends of women joining men in senior leadership positions, establishes the relationship of women leaders to our overall understanding of global leadership, and sets forth an agenda to accomplish much needed research and understanding.”

Enjoy and happy March.  Access the article here.

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Note: Don’t miss our next WEGGinar™ 4/4/18 on “How a Wicked Road Trip to Minturn, Colorado Inspired a Thriving Global Design Business” and presented by Julia Knight, founder of Julia Knight Collections. Register here. 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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