Global Women’s Leadership Summit

September 13, 2013

An Invitation to the Pre-Summit Sessions of the Global Women’s Leadership Summit  

  • Are you a future teen CEO?  
  • Are you in college and a future CEO?  
  • Are you a recent college graduate and a future CEO?  
  • Are you already a young woman CEO?
  • Are you interested in the wisdom of some of the world’s leading experts and thought leaders?

Then the Global Women’s Leadership Summit (GWALS) pre-summit webinar sessions are relevant to you.  It does not make a difference if you are in high school, college, graduate school or for that matter a young woman interested in becoming a better entrepreneur or managing her career path.

Global Womens Ledership Summit

I highly suggest you take advantage of the complimentary pre-summit webinar sessions and plan to attend other pre-summit sessions throughout the month.  I have been listening to a few of them this week and so far they are well presented with the content, audio and visuals.

On the 12th, Janet Sernack, Founder and CEO of ImagineNation™ presented “How the lean start-up is accelerating innovation!” It was one of the best presentations I have attended and very relevant for startups to established businesses to corporations.  Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media; Vinca Heart, CEO of and Amy Applebaum, Amy were the other presenters I listened to as well.

The Global Women’s Leadership Summit (GWALS) is completely online so you can watch the sessions from any location around the world. The pre-summit webinar series is from September 9 through September 27 and it is free.

Some of the other world’s leading experts and thought leaders sharing their wisdom include:

You only need to register once to gain access to all the pre-summit sessions live. Then you select the pre-session webinars you want to attend. Your complimentary pass is at

You may contact me at if you have any questions.

Cheer and enjoy,

Sylvia R.J. Scott, Founder of Girl’s CEO Connection™
Author: Realizing a VisionThe Path for Teen Girls to Become Successful Entrepreneurs; scheduled for October 2013 

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Realizing a Vision, The Path for Teen Girls to Become Successful Entrepreneurs: Indiegogo Crowd Funding Campaign

February 2, 2013

Realizing a Vision, The Path for Teen Girls to Become Successful Entrepreneurs

A full day to engage and equip today’s high school girls as the generation of entrepreneurs and women leaders to revitalize a sustainable global economy.

The Realizing a Vision California conference will be held on Saturday April 27th, 2013 at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). We are excited to have it hosted by the Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi, coed business fraternity.  We launched our Indiegogo crowd funding campaign on Sunday January 27, 2013 and have posted it for 47 days. Why is this crowd funding opportunity good for everyone to invest in today?  Because the time is right to invest in girls and cultivate entrepreneurship within them.   These teens know what the next generation needs and wants.They are the innovators of the future. Globally young women represent the future capacity to revitalize economic growth and development in their countries. However the majority will not have the skills and traits required to start and grow a sustainable venture. On the other hand, the girls who attend the Realizing a Vision conferences learn skills, characteristics and behaviors that provide them with a balanced approach in growing and leading sustainable businesses.  They learn all these traits that seasoned women entrepreneurs wish they had learned at the beginning of their entrepreneurial venture. (more)

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Does Visioning For A Business Really Work?

Realizing a Vision of Launching a Business or Growing Your Business
Imagine yourself leading your business as a highly  successful woman entrepreneur and leader.

One of the most famous baseball players and coaches in the world of baseball once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”  The player was Yogi Berra.

“I skate to where the puck will be, not here I’ve been.” Wayne Gretsky, world champion National Hockey League player and considered the greatest hockey player ever.

Does Visioning For A Business Really Work?

This is an excerpt from my new book, Realizing a Vision, Essential Skills for Young Female Entrepreneurs. Aspiring women entrepreneurs to highly successful ones will benefit with creating a vision for their businesses.  In fact as the business grows there is a need to re-evaluate the vision.  Once a vision is reached, it makes sense to create a new one to achieve the business mission.

Successful entrepreneurs and business owners believe it does.  Sandy Abrams, founder and CEO of Moisture Jamzz Inc. and author of Your Idea, Inc. told me she was visualizing what she wanted to do, her products and who she would sell to as she was planning her initial business. Sandy continues to vision the changes she wants to make with her business each year. Sandy’s clients include to name a few,  Origins, Aveda and Linen’s n Things.

My Visioning Assignment for MBA Course at Babson College

While attending Babson College in Massachusetts I  enrolled in a women’s entrepreneur and leadership MBA course taught by Dr. Candida Brush. One class assigment was on visioning our lives.  Our visions were to be written, shown in a visual way and with a timeline with goals and dates of competion.  Why is this significant to visioning with a business. Dr. Brush is the Chair for the Entrepreneurship Division at Babson College and understands what is needed for women to become successful entrepreneurs . She has also co-authored several books on the subject, serves on the Center for Women’s Business Research Board of Directors and has helped women entrepreneurs globally.

Four important key points when charting your path:

These points are the same for launching a business as well as growing and changing the business.

  • Set High Goals: Additionally Sharon Hadary found that setting high goals was another charactheric of successful women. Once those goals were reached, the women set higher goals and continued to do so each time their goals were reached.
  • Purpose: Vision gives a reason for doing things, a base from which you set your goals and a strategy to accomplish those goals.
  • Future Directed: Your vision shapes how you look at your future. It can be measured by time (weeks, months, or years) or events.

Realizing a Vision: “Write It Down, Make It Real”

Sandy Abrams recommends “Write It Down, Make It Real.”  Sandy writes in her book, “Your idea has been swirling around in your head long enough. It’s time to put it on paper. When something is committed on paper, it takes on a new reality.” Write out your goals no matter what stage you are in with your business.

Additionally Sharon Hadary learned in her research, it is important to define your success.  Sandy suggests to include a vision for your success, how you will look and feel about it.

Your vision statements need to be clear for you.  Something you can easily remember and keep in a place you can refer to on a regular basis.  These statements are also the key points you will want in your business plan or as you make adjustments to your plan.

Realizing a Vision: A “Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

Pictures can deliver a message or thought instantly. Visual thinking can give you a clear and convincing picture to motivate you to act and accomplish your mission and goals. There are even companies online to teach people how to create a vision board as well as “vision board” software to download.

I prefer to use my imagination to create a vision board. I have seen vision boards created by high school girls before starting their businesses.  A year later the girls found what was put on the vision board had come to close to fruition, if not totally.  The results may not have been a specific yet it was a path that was better at the time.

To help you move forward with charting your path you’ll want to create a picture of your idea and how you want your future to look.   When you make your idea and goals visual, all of it takes on a new meaning.  Remember, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

This is to be fun while also helping you to sort out what you want and how you define your success once you achieve your goals.

  • The first step is to use photographs, magazines and news clippings to match your vision.  You want to make a picture, drawing or collage that expresses your vision.  Use anything that will help you express your vision.   You can make it as simple or elaborate as you like.
  • Have fun with it.  Take some time and make it your own.  Work on it in a room where no one will interrupt you. You do not need to do it all at once. A step at a time may be the best way for you.

Keep your vision board in front of you.  It is a mental image of how you see yourself and the business.  Place it where you can easily see it.

Realizing a Vision: Create a Timeline

You have your vision in writing and also visually.  Next step is to create a timeline to determine how long it will take you to reach your initial destination and goals.

  • Give a date or length of time to accomplish your goals.
  • Think realistically about the length of time it will take to reach each goal.
  • You may find it necessary to make some changes and slow down a bit.  For some goals you may reach them faster than planned.

What did I learn through my visioning project at Babson College? Dr.Brush showed me I was trying to do too much at once.  I still have my originak vision board and timeline as a reminder. The new one is a bit more realistic as is the timeline. My written vision has changed a bit as have my goals. I have learned to remind myself of the vision.  If I do not refer to it on a timely basis I get off track with nonessential activities that take me away from my goals.

I hope this may be an inspiration to you now and in the future of your business.  It has for me with the Girl’s CEO Connection. I have already needed to redo my vision for Girl’s CEO Connection and the Realizing a Vision conferences.  It takes time yet it is really worth it.  Aside from the vision board I am writing statements on note cards to read in the morning, during lunch and before I go to bed.  I will let you know what happens.

Thank you.  When you have comments please respond on the blog or on e-mail at


Sylvia R.J. Scott
Creator & Director
Realizing A Vision Conference
Founder & Managing DirectorGirl’s CEO Connection

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Becoming A Certified Woman Owned Or Minority Woman Owned Business: Is Your Business Right For It?


Is Your Business a Right Fit to Become Certified as a Woman Owned Business (WBE) or a Minority Woman Owned Business (MWBE)?

Any business owned by a woman is considered a woman owned business.  It can be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability corporation (LLC or variations of it.)  A woman owned business is any size from a small business to a large private corporation.  However to be considered for public corporation and Federal, state and local governments supplier diversity programs a business needs to be considered a small business.  This equates to usually a maximum of 500 employees.  In some industries it may mean no more than 1500 employees.

To take advantage of the supplier diversity programs woman owned business needs to “certified” as either a woman owned business (WBE) or a minority woman owed business (MWBE).   A woman business owner who is a member of a minority group will want to be certified as a MWBE.  It is important to know the Federal government’s definition of “minority” to be considered for supplier diversity programs of any type.

For Federal government contracts, the United States Small Business Association (SBA) has approved the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council WBENC to be a third party certifier for its Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification program.  This is part of the SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting Program. WBENC has named this certification program as the Women Owned Small Business Government Certification (WOSBGC) Program.

You do not need to become certified on a national level if you only want to provide goods or services to your state or local government agencies.  The same is true if you are  interested in contracts with local or state public corporations or non-profits.  This may include hospitals and medical centers, public and private schools and colleges or universities (private or public). Every state and sometimes the local governments have their own certification process.  That will be all you need.  If you are a minority woman business owner you may need to be certified through your local National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC).  You will need to research your state’s requirements.

Before you devote your time and money to become certified at any level I suggest you consider the following questions?

  • Is your business in an industry normally in demand with supplier diversity programs?
  • Do you have the products or services normally requested even if you are in the industry of preference?
  • Does your business have the capability and staffing to fulfill the contract?  Do you have the manpower to deliver on time and within the bid budget?
  • Do you have the cash flow stability to wait an extended period time for payment on government contracts?
  • Do you have time to market your business to be included on a preferred vendor list?  Do you have a staff member to do so if you do not have time?  You will want to be included as a preferred vendor for the company’s future needs.
  • The preliminary process of contract bidding is much the same as the steps non-profits do when researching and applying for grants and corporate foundation monies.
  • Do you have a staff member to research and investigate opportunities? You will also need to monitor the RFP alerts your certifying agency will also send out to you?
  • Do you have time to develop a relationship with the supplier diversity managers? If you not is there a staff member you trust to do it?

There are businesses that certification does not make sense.  I know women who went through the national certification process to realize later there was no need for it. Examples include public relations, marketing, advertising and communication agencies or consultants, and hospitality services. Additionally consumer goods sold in retail stores: apparel, accessories, linens, and gifts.

Certification makes sense for companies providing services and products such as and not limited to:

  • Office equipment and fixtures
  • Uniforms and linen services
  • IT infrastructure design
  • Janitorial and cleaning services
  • Building and grounds maintenance
  • Human resource solutions i.e. staffing, recruitment and executive search
  • Security services
  • Signs, outdoor advertising and billboards
  • Printing brochures and annual reports
  • Construction equipment, building materials
  • Contractors: lighting, electrical, painting, parking lot paving
  • Facility, high technology and controlled environment cleaning services

You have decided to include supplier diversity into your business growth strategy.  Key points to remember:

  • Find out in advance what certifying agencies are accepted by your target organizations.  Some companies only accept WBENC and NMSDC.
  • Every corporation and government agency has its own bid criteria. If you do not meet the criteria it is a waste of time to bid.
  • Certification is a marketing tool, gives you credibility and provides you with opportunities for building your business.  As with any business opportunity collaboration, customer service and relationship building are keys to your success.

This post was originally written as a guest blog post for Damsels in Success blog at

Author Sylvia R.J. Scott is the Founder and Managing Director of the Girl’s CEO Connection LLC. She is also the creator and producer of the “Realizing a Vision” conferences and workshops. She is a leading advocate for equipping and engaging today’s high school girls as a new generation of entrepreneurs and creative women leaders.  Widely recognized for her broad vision and resourceful execution of numerous initiatives and events, her career spans industries from fashion to non-profit management to social entrepreneurship.  She is personally committed to cultivating and empowering young women through opportunities as entrepreneurs. Her book Realizing a Vision, A Girl’s Winning Guide as a Teen Entrepreneur will be available in September 2012.

The Girl’s CEO Connection LLC is dedicated to the development of entrepreneurial and leadership skills in young women.  Our mission is to equip and empower young female entrepreneurs to create, develop and marketing sustainable entrepreneurial enterprises. We cultivate young female entrepreneurs to build their future as influential women leaders in business and a global society.  By being introduced to the fundamentals of strategic thinking, financial accountability and creative leadership, young women will achieve a new and profound sense of self, as well as access to the extraordinary possibilities that are open to them.

Sylvia RJ Scott LinkedIn:

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Twitter @GirlsCEOConnect

Realizing a Vision Facebook Group:


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Kabul Girl’s Soccer Club

March 14, 2012

International Women’s Day was last week on March 8th.   I was working on my book Realizing a Vision and lost track of time.  Therefore this post did not make it.  However it is today and I am glad that the timing did change.  My topic of including four or five women working with far-reaching international goals has now been narrowed down to one young woman.  The mission of this blog is to introduce and encourage innovative and socially responsible young women to a path as a social entrepreneur, transforming the world with social entrepreneurship.

“Fake it until you make it”

Why did a 23 year-old female research chemist for General Electric decide to give up a stable career to become a social entrepreneur?  After all, Awista Ayub spent five years at the University of Rochester majoring in chemistry.  Awista also started the first women’s ice hockey team for U of R.

As an Afghan-American she found it tough to juggle her dual identity. She really wanted to play sports in school and watched the boys play baseball, football and basketball.  Her mother was against it. In 9th grade Awista learned to play tennis.  Sports opened her life in high school and she excelled academically with straight A’s and was her class Valedictorian. Later at the University of Rochester Awista was one of two girls in her graduating class with a chemistry degree.  She also created the university’s first girls’ ice hockey team.

At the age of 19 Awista really wanted to play ice hockey, thus why not start the first girls’ hockey team.  Her sophomore year she learned all about “fake it until you make it”. Awista got the buzz going for the team. She did a great marketing job and 30 girls showed up at an interest meeting. When the girls returned to school after summer break they learned Awista could not skate.  The team thought because she had convinced them to play she must be a great ice hockey player. No one had asked her if she could skate. Awista believed they could all learn together and that way she would have a team equal to herself. Within a month the team knew how to skate.  Awista realized she could start any initiative and learn as along the way.  She took on the attitude of “fake it until you make it.”

In addition her freshman year to the dismay of Awista and her engineer father, she was not the A plus student as in high school. Awista felt like a failure with a C average. During this time Awista realized a C average was not failing and it was not the end of the world. She also realized if something didn’t work she would just try again, start over or try something else. Click hear to listen to Awista tell the story to University of Rochester students.  It’s quite funny hearing it from her.

Awista took a position at General Electric in Troy New York as a research chemist when she graduated. Awista was dreadfully unhappy with her work and knew she was meant for more. She quit her job and connected with friends and colleagues for advice. By the time she moved back to her parent’s home in Connecticut Awista had the Kabul girls’ soccer team selected and ready to come to the United States. Oh yes, her engineer father approved of her career choice as a chemist. Imagine his surprise when his daughter showed up at home and told him she quit her prestigious job. On top of it, she was also going to live at home. Her father’s real surprise came when Awista told her family eight Afghan girls would be with them in a month’s time.

The Kabul Girls Soccer Club

Why did Awista Ayub decide to take on a project that would throw her into the struggle to empower Afghan girls? Awista wanted to do more with her life.  Awista was passionate about empowering Afghan girls. She learned girls who engage in team sports have a strong sense of self-worth and are not afraid to take chances.  While she did not play soccer, it was wildly popular with girls internationally. “Faking it until you make it” kicked in again. Awista’s life changing decision impacted more than herself.  It impacted an entire country of young girls who were held back from receiving an education.

Some of you may remember when a soccer eight girls from Kabul came to the United States to play soccer and surprised the world with their skills and teamwork. They returned home as heroes.The videos included in this post give you an insider’s look into Awista Ayub launching the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange. That was two years after she graduated from college and two years after 9-11.

In 2004 and 2005 men dominated soccer in Afghanistan. It was considered inappropriate for girls to play.  Girls were only allowed to play basketball and volleyball in Afghanistan.  In that changed when Awista brought eight girls to the United States to play soccer.  Later the Afghanistan Federation began a girl’s soccer team. Five of the eight girls continued on the team upon returning to Kabul.  Now there are 15 teams in Afghanistan.

Aside from not playing soccer, she did not follow it nor did she know anything about the top women players. When ESPN wanted to produce a film on her initiative, Afghan Youth Sports Exchange Awista’s “faking it until you” make it theory propelled her forward. Awista knew however ESPN’s coverage would have a positive impact on the program. She did a great job of “faking it”. Awista tells more about the film-watch it here.

Awista now advises young women (and men) to find their passion in life and move forward.  At times it might be difficult to overcome some of the obstacles.  However don’t give up and don’t become deterred.  You never know where it will take you.  If your passion is strong enough it will carry you through.

Awista Ayub is the author of However Tall the Mountain with the paperback titled as Kabul Girls Soccer Club.

I read However Tall the Mountain and loved it.  In fact it made me wish I could meet the girls.  I also wanted to learn what happened to a couple of them that were not allowed to continue playing.  It is very revealing just as the ESPN video.  Awista spoke at our Realizing a Vision conference in January 2010 at Stanford University.The students learned so much from her.  One of the comments was they had never heard the truth about teenage girls from Afghanistan. The creation of the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange with the Kabul Girls Soccer Club impacted more than Afghan youth. It has also impacted those who hear Awista speak on her journey as a social entrepreneur and for those who read However Tall the Mountain/Kabul Girls Soccer Club.

Be sure to check out our Girl’s CEO Connection blog: http://www.girlsceoconnection/  Follow us on Twitter: @GirlsCEOConnect

Please contact me at with suggestions.  Join us on our Girl’s CEO Connection Facebook Page and our Facebook Realizing a Vision Group.

Read more about Awista and her work on her web site at



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The Dressmaker of Khair Khana Nominated for “Goodreads Choice Award for Best History & Biography”

I actually had not realized how long it has been since I made a posting here.  Way too long and I apologize.

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is the author The Dressmaker of Khair Khana,both inspiring and informative on the life of five sisters in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. It is a true story about a young woman with an entrepreneurial spirit and idea to mobilize her community under the Taliban.  Kamila learned to use the sewing skills her mother had tried to teach her and turned them into a thriving business sewing women’s clothing.  It wasn’t just any business of sewing it included Kamila teaching other young women in her community to do the same and meet in her home to turn their sewing into a thriving business.  This was while the Taliban was in control.

Take a journey through The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and be inspired in the spirit of five sisters and a community of women working together to feed their families and keep them safe.

You will see why The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is  worthy to be nominated for the “Goodreads Choice Award for Best History & Biography. It only takes a minute to vote and you can make this award happen.  Oh yes, it is up against David McCullough and the Steve Jobs biography. Voting only takes a second (click here). At the same time you can review other entries you may want to vote on at the same time.

In closing: This young social entrepreneur from Afghanistan did so much training other young women with a craft they could use in years to come.  On an ending note: Kamila closed her sewing business yet continued to advocate for women in business and as community leaders.  Kamila received formal business training and mentoring through BPeace (Business Council for Peace), Mercy Corps and Thunderbird School of Global Management. She began another business, Kaweyan, to train men and women on develop their business ideas.  This would expand into other Afghan provinces.  Kamila is no longer “young” and has a family of her own.  She continues with her entrepreneurial spirit as a true social entrepreneur in her own country of Afghanistan.

Be sure to check out our Girl’s CEO Connection blog:  http://www.girlsceoconnection/  Follow us on Twitter: @GirlsCEOConnect

All the best,


Posted in Afghanistan, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Social Entrepreneur, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Women Entrepreneurs | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elizabeth Murray, Colonial Boston’s First Enterprising Woman and Social Entrepreneur

Elizabeth Murray Campbell Smith Inman was truly one of colonial America’s first enterprising women when she was only 23 years old.   Today she would also be considered a social entrepreneur. I  thought with this being July 6th it was only fitting to tell you about a woman most Americans  have no idea existed although she was one of Boston’s first “she-merchants.” Elizabeth Murray began her first business at the age of 23 in pre-Revolution Boston. She was single and became a successful merchant long before she got married at the age of 29.   On July 4th 2006, I took the Freedom Trail walk that chronicles the life of a successful pre-Revolution woman business owner that exemplifies the true meaning of women gaining economic independence through entrepreneurship

Elizabeth Murray, One of America’s First Enterprising Women

One of the most compelling figures in colonial America was Scottish immigrant Elizabeth Murray, (1726-1785) who settled in Boston in 1749.  She was not just any ordinary colonial woman.  Elizabeth Murray was one of  America’s first enterprising women, building a business that would bring her economic self-sufficiency as a single woman. Linking economic self-sufficiency to independence would be her defining theme of her life.  Her life before, during and after the American Revolution was significant as a role model in the lives of so many Boston female business owner.  Her biography Elizabeth Murray: A Woman’s Pursuit of Independence in Eighteenth-Century America by Professor Patricia Cleary, Ph.D. (University of Massachusetts Press, 2000) gives a fascinating picture of Boston from the eyes of women; before, during and right after the American Revolution.

Elizabeth Murray’s path to becoming an entrepreneur began at the age of 12 when she moved from Scotland to live with her brother James in North Carolina. She become his housekeeper and as a result learned how to manage an estate, the entire household needs, work with vendors, etc.  During this time she also learned math in order to balance the estate’s finances. This time in Elizabeth’s life gave her a strong foundation to run her own business and manage her finances.    Five years later Elizabeth, her brother and his new wife moved to London.  There she found a city filled with women shop-owners selling merchandise from all over the world.  Elizabeth learned about women’s fashions worn in Great Britain and colonial America.  She also learned accounting along with how to run a shop.  When Elizabeth was 22 years old her family returned to America.  They  stopped in Boston on the way to North Carolina.  Elizabeth remained in Boston and opened her shop.

Retail was a typical business path for many women pre-American Revolution.  Elizabeth became a successful “she-merchant” at 23 years old with a business selling imported fashion apparel, china, and dry goods from Great Britain.  For 10 years Murray conducted her retail business with merchants and manufacturers in England and buyers in the American colonies, even traveling to London to select merchandise for her shop.   Additionally she owned and ran a boarding house along with a sewing school.  The boarding house originated to give young women a place to live while they began their businesses.

Maintaining Her Economic Independence Upon Getting Married was extremely important to Elizabeth. Her entrepreneurial spirit and success in business earned her enough money to be entirely self-sufficient-a rare achievement for a colonial woman.  The custom was when a woman married all of her property and assets was controlled by her husband.  Elizabeth married Thomas Campbell at the age of 29.  He was a trader and ship’s captain and insisted his wife keep the wealth from her businesses.  He secured Elizabeth’s financial assets through a prenuptial agreement.  Thomas died of measles when Elizabeth was 32 years old.  She was then determined to insure the financial rewards of her work would never be integrated into the estate of her next husband.  Elizabeth made sure of it by having her following two husbands sign a prenuptial agreement. Murray’s three marriages chronicle the impact of family on women’s economic security and the influence of private circumstances on women’s public lives.

Successful Business Owner, Angel Investor, and Mentor to Young Bostonian Women Achieving Economic Independence the Entrepreneurship

Elizabeth once wrote to a friend, “I’d rather [be] a useful member of society than all of the fine delicate creatures of the age.” She was so satisfied with her work and the economic freedom it brought her that Elizabeth became a mentor and teacher to the young disadvantaged women.  She taught them math and business skills needed to be successful “she-merchants.”

Elizabeth was also the first angel investor to many young Bostonian women. While owning a boarding house and sewing school at not normally considered a social enterprise, in this case they might just be so. Murray’s boarding house provided her less fortunate trainees a place to live while they were in school as well as launching their shops. Her endeavors with the sewing school, teaching women financial literacy along with training them to be entrepreneurs gives her a place as Boston’s first Women’s Business Center (WBC). The current WBC, the Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE) is located on School Street.  It is a few doors from where Elizabeth Murray’s shop was believed to have been located on Washington Street, between Court and School Streets.

The Boston “She-Merchant” Networking Group was probably the first professional women’s group in America when you think about it. One of the few “she-merchants” in Boston at the time, Elizabeth was a member of an all female network of shop-owners and teachers in Boston.  She interacted and traded services with her peers in the network daily.

The American Revolution’s Impact on Elizabeth Murray and Boston’s Female Shop Owners: The spirit of independence Elizabeth Murray so valued and nurtured in young women was severely tested by the upheavals of the American Revolution.  During that time, female shop owners were ostracized for importing and selling British fashions, dry goods, china and house wares.  Many left Boston and returned to London while others who remained in Boston, closed up shop completely never to reopen as a result of being caught in the midst of politics and war.  Although Elizabeth no longer needed to be a business owner she continued to encourage young women and men to become shop keepers.

Elizabeth’s third husband, Ralph Inman, ran out on her and left her to fend for their estate in Cambridge during the war.  She never forgave him and when she died in 1758 he was not in her will.  She left everything to her nieces and the young women she nurtured as businesswomen.

Elizabeth Murray died at the age of 59 and was buried next to her first husband, Thomas Campbell, in Boston’s oldest cemetery, Kings Chapel Burial Ground.  This resting place is only two blocks from where Elizabeth Murray spent 10 years building her successful business.   Her life is considered part of Boston’s rich history that shaped our country.

Elizabeth Murray Campbell Smith Inman, a successful woman business owner, angel investor and mentor to young Bostonian women before, during and after the American Revolution.   A woman committed to seeing young women achieving economic independence through business ownership.

Elizabeth Murray: A Woman’s Pursuit of Independence in Eighteenth-Century America is an excellent book to read and learn about women entrepreneurs before and during the American Revolution.  You will learn why being a social entrepreneur was as important as being a “she-merchant” or tavern owner (the other path for women owning businesses). If you do read it please let us know your thoughts on it.

Learn about the Girl’s CEO Connection and teen girls creating entrepreneurial enterprises on our Facebook Page and on Girl’s CEO Connection blog at

If you have questions or want more information about social enterprises and social entrepreneurs send me a note through our contact page or at

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Shahla Akbari, Breaking Barriers for Afghan Women a Shoe at a Time

Shahla Akbari is the founder of the Afghan Women Initiative Company in Afghanistan and is breaking barriers one pair of shoes at a time.  We wrote about her in an earlier post on April 5, 2011 and mentioned her a bit on the last post with her mother Fatima.  Her education as a woman business owner and the training she has received is a result of Toni Maloney and Bpeace 2010 work in Afghanistan. Although Shahla may not be considered a social entrepreneur like her mother FatimaShahla has many interesting sides to her personality and business:

She first worked for her mother’s carpentry business before she decided to open her own business of designing and creating handmade Afghan shoes.

Shoes and handbags are two items Afghan women can use in public to express their personal style and there is also a need in Afghanistan for products made in Afghanistan.

She has a 12th grade education and began her business at the age of 17.  Today at the age of 20 her staff includes both men and women.  These are more than business accomplishments.   They are cultural accomplishments:

Her first three staff members were men.  Men normally do not work for women, especially young women like Shahla.

Women with nontraditional businesses are considered a rarity in the country.

Shahla is the youngest female entrepreneur to be admitted into Bpeace’s Fast Runner Program.  She is also the first cross generation entrepreneur to participate in the program.  Her mother Fatima graduated from it recently.

She’s on Facebook!!  Now for many that may be interesting.  Think about it though.  It is like having a pen pal with the hope of meeting someday in the future.

The initial $2,000 seed money to start the Afghan Women Initiative Company in 2009 came from Shahla’s mother.  Actually it was a loan Shahla was expected to pay back after a specific time.  Her mother wanted Shahla to understand financial literacy and the ethics of business finances.   This is a good lesson to learn for all young entrepreneurs, here in the United States and abroad.

Through the Bpeace Fast Runner Program Shahla got to study and learn the art of designing beautiful women’s shoes from Heather Williams, founder and designer of H.Williams in New York City. 

On top of her visit with Heather, Shahla had the opportunity to learn from the pros at Aurora Shoe Company located in upstate New York, not far from Syracuse and Lake Ontario.You can read their blog post about meeting their Shahla when you click here. )  She also visited with Jutta Neumann Leather (in lower Manhattan) and P.W. Minor in Batavia, New York (between Buffalo and Rochester).  What a culture shock that must have been?  In other words, along with learning about business, Shahla saw parts of New York many New Yorkers will never see, and for that matter not many Americans will ever visit.

What impresses me with Shahla is her authenticity, vision and strong sense of business.  She has taken advantage of teachers and mentors provided by Bpeace (click on the linkto learn more) Bpeace Annual Meeting and the support they provide to entrepreneurs.

Shahla spoke at the 2010 Bpeace Annual Meeting in New York City. Here is a clip of the  Bpeace Annual Meeting with Shahla Akbari, 2010 and I hope you will be as impressed with Shahla as I have been, learning about her courage and perseverance and then hearing her speak to a full-house of Bpeace Board members, supporters and volunteers.

Shahla is totally committed to making a difference with the rebuilding of Afghanistan and  strengthening its economy.  Her goal is to export AWIC shoes.   Perhaps when she is well-established with her business  Shahla will mentor other young women in Afghanistan to follow in her footsteps.

I do hope to meet the young entrepreneur Glamour magazine describes as “the young Afghan woman who is changing the world one pair of shoes at a time.”  We are Facebook friends now and until we do get to meet in person, we’ll grow a relationship online.

Learn about the Girl’s CEO Connection and teen girls creating entrepreneurial enterprises on our Facebook Page and on Girl’s CEO Connection blog at

If you have questions or want more information about social enterprises and social entrepreneurs send me a note through our contact page or at

Thank you and have a peaceful Memorial Day weekend.

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Fatima Akbari, Afghan Mother, Role-Model, Social Entrepreneur and Business Owner

Last month you were introduced to Toni Maloney and her non-profit social enterprise:  Bpeace, the Business Council for Peace.  You also learned a bit about a 19 year-old Afghan entrepreneur, Shahla Akbariwith her shoe manufacturing business.  I promised to write more about Shahla in the next post, which is today’s.   However I decided it was best to first introduce you to her role-model and mother:  social entrepreneur mother, Fatima Akbari Shahla worked with her mother’s business for awhile until she herself found an economic need to be filled in Afghanistan. That need was for locally made shoes to be sold to Afghans.  Shahla’s shoe manufacturing business is applauded by the “Buy Afghan, By Afghan” local made in Afghanistan initiative.  Before I tell you more about Shahla and her Afghan Women Initiative Company, handmade shoes for men and women, I would like you to meet her mother and her first mentor as a woman business owner.

Being creative and artistic is a natural trait in Afghanistan culture. Shahla and Fatima Akbari’s businesses are representative of the artistry that comes out of Afghanistan.  Their businesses also fill a need through the visionary eyes of women entrepreneurs.  Shahla’s mother is a 45 year old widow and the mother of four children.  She is the founder of the carpentry school and furniture manufacturing business, Gulistan Sadaquat Company, in Kabul Afghanistan.  Shahla and her mother’s business are considered non-traditional for women business owners, even in the United States.  Mother and daughter were accepted into the Bpeace Fast Runnerthree-year program with Fatima completing the three-year program in 2010.  This incredible program gave Fatima and Shahla the opportunity to be matched with Bpeace volunteer business professionals who commit to mentor and guide the Afghan entrepreneurs for three years.   During the three years the Afghan entrepreneurs come to the United States to apprentice at American firms.

Fatima Akbari is both a mother and a true social entrepreneur role-model. Fatima Akbari’s story is one of a woman, like many disadvantaged women in the inner cities of U.S., who needed to provide for her children after the death of her husband.  She had no means of support.  However, in Afghanistan widows usually end up as beggars on the streets.  Fatima wanted no part of that lifestyle.  She worked in Iran on construction sites and when the time was right, returned to Afghanistan to pass on her carpentry skills to other Afghan widows and now their children (boys and girls).  In 2003 she founded the Gulistan Sadaqat Company as a carpentry school and furniture manufacturing  business:  handcrafted Afghan wood furniture, toys and ornaments.

Now you may be wondering how is it that Fatima Akbari is a social entrepreneur role model?   Fatima’s goal is to help the poorest people in Afghanistan. She employs nearly 100 people right now.  A large percentage are widows or wives of disabled men from 30 years of war in Afghanistan.  These women are normally the very poorest and illiterate.  They learn carpentry to feed and educate their children.

The carpentry school and business is a non-governmental organization (NGO) and is a lifeline to these women and provides them with a means to help support their families.  In addition Fatima provides childcare for her employees while they are working as well as a one-room school house.  The employee’s children may learn the carpentry trade as well and are allowed to work when not in school and during holidays.  You can read about it in an article on Wahdat News entitled Women of Hazaras and Modern Afghanistan (click here).

How an Afghan woman created a business in a male-dominated trade and culture: Today Fatima’s business has five locations with a goal to be in 34 provinces of Afghanistan.  Do you know what is amazing about Fatima with her business?  It is her attitude towards starting a business in a once dominated male industry-carpentry!   Think about it ladies.  Carpentry is still considered a male dominated business even in our own country.  Fatima realized technology had replaced some of the “labor” in a carpentry business.  In her eyes women work just as hard as men, even in a physical business like making handcrafted wood furniture and toys. She has used this understanding to create a business to help not only her own family but hundreds of other people.  Most of the money made in the business is given to the staff because they need to support their families.  Today supplies are limited and Fatima is considering using recycled wood and supplies.   The workmanship of Fatima’s staff is becoming well known and respected to the point that traders come to Gulistan Sadaqat Company to purchase products.  Hazara People blog adds more the story of Fatima and Gulistan Sadaquat Company.(click here to read the article on Hazara

Fatima was accepted into the Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative in 2009 at the American University of Afghanistan.  Through this program and Bpeace, Fatima gained the business management skills needed to grow her business even more.  Like all entrepreneurs she needs to network to promote the business, gain customers and raise money.  The concept of social media marketing is not an option in a country like Afghanistan.  Therefore Fatima attends female business luncheons and travels at home throughout Kabul and abroad to promote her carpentry school, gain customers and raise money.

In my opinion Fatima Akbari’s total and unselfish commitment to her daughter Shahla’s business quest as an entrepreneur and those of other women in Afghanistan puts her ahead of many others.  From the tribute given to Fatima by Vital Voices for its Economic Empowerment Global Leadership Awardher statement says it all:  “I support my daughter and I guide her in her business so she can be successful and build our home country.”  She is also supporting many more women in Afghanistan through her training and business by giving them an opportunity to learn a trade and work to provide for themselves and their families.  Fatima Akbari is helping to rebuild her homeland of Afghanistan through education and social entrepreneurship (

Fatima did not set out to have a successful business to be honored or to receive an award.  I doubt very seriously if she ever expected or thought about becoming the recipient of honors or awards for her work as a social entrepreneur helping women in Afghanistan.  As I noted above, she was awarded Vital Voices Economic Empowerment Global Leadership Award.   This was bestowed upon her on April 12, 2011 during the Tenth Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards.  I think you will see from the videos I have included and the links to articles and interviews with Fatima how she is a role-model for her daughter Shahla and other women and girls in Afghanistan as well as to other women in war-torn countries.

Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative: In closing Fatima and Shahla are both esteemed graduates of the Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative Fatima is hailed as a trailblazer with the program because not only did she encourage and help her daughter start a business; she encourages women in general to become business owners.  She is a true vision of the Afghan women’s perseverance and passion to make a difference in their country while taking care of their families. Additionally Fatima represents how Goldman-Sachs Foundation’s 10,000 Women Initiativeis successfully educating underserved women around the world with a business and management education.  You will want to watch this video interview with Fatima and Greta Van Sustern on April 1, 2011, as well as being inspired by her click here.

My next post will be about Shahla Akbarias I promised.  By learning about her mother you can see where Shahla gets her tenacity and business drive.

You can learn more about the Girl’s CEO Connection and teen girls creating entrepreneurial enterprises on Facebook at

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Social Entrepreneur Toni Maloney Makes Strides with Young Female Afghan Entrepreneurs

I’d like to introduce you to Toni Maloney ,co-founder and CEO of the social enterprise, Bpeace. The Business Council for Peace was formed by a group of American businesswomen, to foster female-owned businesses in war torn regions.  Toni is the Co-founder and CEO of Bpeace. Since 2002, Toni and her team have made significant contributions training women entrepreneurs in Rwanda and Afghanistan. Bpeace believes that creating jobs results in creating peace and today they are making strides not only in Afghanistan and Rwanda but also El Salvador. Quite simply:   Bpeace is a non-profit network of business professionals. They volunteer skills to entrepreneurs in conflict-affected countries to help them create significant employment for all, and expand the economic power of women.

I enjoyed this article on BPeace that was from June 3, 2005 in  Bloomberg Businessweek in Small Biz under Leadership. “Peace Through Entrepreneurship: A talk with BPeace’s Toni Maloney on her group’s efforts to mentor small-business women from war-torn areas like Afghanis.”  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.   Also, learn about the Progress in Afghanistan today from the BPeace site.  Although we talk about young women as entrepreneurs, Bpeace does include them also.  Check out Young Afghans Rising (  I think you might enjoy it as much as the Businessweek article.

It is so good to see that Bpeace is helping teenage female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan; a country that was known for holding back females in their education pursuits under the Taliban rule. It also meant women who were once allowed to work outside the home were no longer allowed to do so. Today, walls are being broken for women in Afghanistan by Toni Maloney and her fellow entrepreneurs working for BPeace. Are you ready to be excited and amazed at the same time? Take a look at this video clip from Good Morning America and young Shahla. A teenage girl who began her shoe manufacturing company at the age of 17 years old. Now 19 years old, Shahla was brought to the U.S. by Bpeace for some entrepreneur training in New York City garment district.   Good Morning America

This is Shahla with Dave from The Aurora Shoe Company in King Ferry, New York in the Finger Lakes region of New York (east side of Cayuga Lake).  Yes, Aurora is all about handmade leather shoes so it was a perfect mentor for Shahla in her Bpeace trip. 

I’ll be writing more about Bpeace and Shahla in the next post.  You can learn more about the Girl’s CEO Connection and teen girls creating entrepreneurial enterprises on Facebook at

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