Empowering Women Through Entrepreneurship
Powerful. Transformative. Paradigm-shifting. These are some of the words I associate with my personal experiences as a woman with entrepreneurship. It is atypical for a junior in high school to claim that she has had “experiences with entrepreneurship,” but I am, in fact, an entrepreneur.
Oftentimes when I make this claim, I am met with blank stares or raised eyebrows or perhaps a single syllable: “Huh?” The incredulity and confusion is understandable: young people, specifically young women, rarely take initiative when it comes to concretely implementing the outstanding ideas that they may have. This is a reality that needs to be consciously deconstructed; the strength that entrepreneurship fosters in an individual is a valuable quality in a young woman’s life.
Your thoughts are valuable. Your solutions matter.
A primary reason that women shy away from the pursuit of entrepreneurship is fear that arises from a lack of knowledge. Unfamiliarity with entrepreneurship, which doesn’t provide many young, female role models, leads to a premature sense of imminent failure. This causes girls to often instantly reject the field simply because they feel overwhelmed by seemingly insurmountable odds. A simple way to combat this issue is by making entrepreneurship more accessible.
As with many fears, seeking counsel and gathering more information can make a world of difference. By talking about it more and expounding what it really means, girls begin to realize that they aren’t too far off from being entrepreneurs at all. The entrepreneurial spirit is passionate, creative, risk-taking, and unlimited. The true entrepreneur does not restrict herself based on what could go wrong; rather, she is inspired by what could go right, and what possibilities could be achieved by striving toward a particular goal. Entrepreneurs build by using their resources, but they also reach out and ask for help. When entrepreneurship is broken down into concrete, identifiable traits and skills, it becomes much easier to digest and appreciate.
Entrepreneurship Is A Joy
Witnessing the manifestation of your mind’s creation brings unadulterated happiness – happiness that girls who come from rough upbringings, little technological experience, and families with limited access can truly benefit from. I saw this phenomenon firsthand last summer through my nonprofit, Empowered. I ran a 7-week training program for minority high school girls to learn technical skills, such as web development and graphic design, as well as business soft-skills.
The girls grew increasingly bold and inventive with each passing day over the course of the summer. They came up with ideas for mock businesses, and several of them decided that they would use their newfound technology skills to build real businesses one day. More importantly, the perspective revolution that I witnessed was phenomenal. Almost none of the girls entered the program thinking that they would start a business in the future. However, every single one ended the summer with the idea that technology is a tool that can change the world, and that they can be the ones to do it by identifying real problems and building businesses to provide viable solutions. The girls were inspired time and time again by positive role models who came in and spoke throughout the summer about their personal experiences as community leaders, describing the hardships that they encountered on the road to entrepreneurship. Empowered’s girls, although daunted, said that they “looked forward to the challenge”.
Entrepreneurship Is Life-Changing
This is the best word I can use to describe my experience with entrepreneurship. The extraordinary women and men I’ve met over the past few years have inspired me in ways I will always remember. I will never forget that life can be explosive with color, creation, and ideas. It is not just billion-dollar startup founders who can call themselves entrepreneurs. Your thoughts are valuable. Your solutions matter. Help to make a difference to the people in the world, no matter how big or small, by pursuing entrepreneurship. Let your dreams take shape.