The Unstoppable Force of Women Building Up Women
Tammy Y. Allen, Director, Marketing & Programs, The NIIC
Women are a life force to reckon. Combine this concept with that of women building up women, and imagine the impact. How can we apply these concepts to address research stating two barriers women entrepreneurs face are fear of failure and lack of access to resources? I believe these two barriers cross industries. The Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center (WEOC) helps to address these. Women supporting other women can help to address these, too. Here are three case studies.
Purposefully find your tribe.
Seth Godin, one of my favorite authors, talks a lot about tribes and their importance for change. Five years ago, a group of 15 women leaders in Kosciusko County joined forces to focus on how to serve professional women’s needs in Northern Indiana. There was no organization like that in the county. This group represented large corporations, entrepreneurs, government, and non-profit organizations. Despite an initial misalignment with a nationally-recognized women’s organization, this tenacious group established WISE, Inc. (We Inspire Support Empower), a 501(c)3 organization, to fill that gap. I had the honor of serving as the first President and was a Founding Board of Member. I’ve also served as a mentor and now serve as an Advisor. Five years later, the tribe remains strong.
Fight for what’s important.
About two years ago I joined The NIIC in a newly created role for the organization. In addition to marketing, I oversee programs. This includes our U.S. Small Business Administration Women’s Business Center named Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center (WEOC). Admittedly, WEOC has endured significant changes in its brief existence. This includes leadership turnover (three directors in three years), a self-induced change of scope, a name change, and developing a marketing strategy. WEOC’s purpose is to serve Northeast Indiana women entrepreneurs at all stages of their business ventures. More broadly, we want to help level the playing field. This is important work!
We at The NIIC, along with our WEOC Advisory Council have worked intentionally and passionately to get WEOC where it is today. We have a more relevant women’s business center with a capable and expanded staff serving strong women in our community. If you have an idea for a business or want to grow your business, contact us. It’s important to advocate and be a champion for your business, too! WEOC Director Leslee Hill, WEOC Coordinator Suzie Haga, and The NIIC staff are here to serve you.
Honor the wisdom and strengths of others.
I come from a family of strong women, including my mother and four sisters. I guess many of you, like me, are also blessed with strong women in your lives. Maybe it is through extended family, friends, colleagues, and associates. It is often said,“We are standing on the shoulders of giants.” While this phrase has multiple origins, it comes down to honoring the wisdom of those who came before us. And I’ll take that a step further, embracing the strengths of others (while acknowledging our own limitations) to achieve more. WOWnet Fort Wayne, is a group of women working together to serve women. According to a WOWnet member survey in March 2018, members represent nearly 30 industries and have collectively mentored or influenced more than 1,500 women and children.
That depth and breadth of knowledge, experience, and professional expertise is powerful. As a WOWnet Fort Wayne member, I am proud to say we build each other up and help each other to be successful.
These are three examples of women building women. I encourage you to ponder, what ways do you build other women up? How can you expand upon that?