Start programming your future, both literally and figuratively

Could you be an active player of the digital era?

How? -  you might ask.

The answer is The Code to Change’s Digital Skills Bootcamp. From October, Code to Change wil run an innovative mentoring programme that imparts essential digital skills which are required for pursuing a career in the digital market.

https://youtu.be/KF3uen5J8uA

We believe that you do not have to go back to school to go into ICT (Information Communications Technology). We help you realize you do not need to be a coder to be in ICT. At Code to Change, we aim to bridge the skills gap by making available effective education and mentoring through our dedicated community of technology professionals who are already on their career ladder.

The program is supported by leaders and rising stars of the tech world who are passionate about sharing their skills and expertise with others. The program kicks off with a three days event, which includes e-skills bootcamp and conference. It is then followed by 5 months activities: 1 month for onboarding matching mentors and mentees, following by 3 months of mentoring. The last month is dedicated to sharing learnings, showcasing projects and sharing feedback.

JOIN THE BOOTCAMP IN AMSTERDAM

The bootcamp on the October 10th will help 50 women to take their first steps intothe basics of coding and introduce them to the fascinating world of information technology. The mentees will work with their peers and highly experienced mentors from tech companies.

This is our third cohort and we are even more excited about the changes and improvements we are bringing this year! In addition to the beginners’ level session, we have now introduced the intermediate level. The intermediate level is for code newbies, who did some courses and are now ready to take their learning to the next level.

We are expecting women from all over the world to join us! If you can be in Amsterdam for three days and want to get a taste of building something from scratch, or you have already opened Pandora’s box and started playing around with different programming language at the intermediate level, apply for the bootcamp today!

The two days bootcamp will be held in the heart of beautiful Rent24 venue at Magna Plaza, one of the landmarks in Amsterdam. We look forward to welcome 50 women to join the bootcamp. The boot camp participants will get the opportunity to hear from our emerging leaders in the tech world and get a first hand knowledge of what it takes to make it in the tech world.

The opening talk will be delivered by the founder, Iffat Gill and co-founder, Mine Ogura of The Code To Change.  The beginner session will be lead by Alexandra Vargas, a passionate Colombian Front End Developer and the intermediate level by Andreea Marin, a Software Engineer specialised in Java and Big Data.

Today our mentees are exploring new worlds in the technology sector, whether it is building applications or using their existing skills in a new digital role. Our mentees are creating the technology and not just consuming it.

It is something for you? Apply now on http://codetochange.org !

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Jump in! Become a social enterprises supporter

Original interview on Ogunte

In our efforts to join up the various elements that make the women-led social enterprise world, we constantly liaise with supporters, intermediaries and organizations that provide social finance, logistics or capacity building to social innovators and entrepreneurs.

Today, we are talking to Paoola Sefair, a woman who has been instrumental to Ogunte for her input in strategy and processes, and who shares her journey as a supporter for social entrepreneurs and changemakers.
Paoola has over 20 years experience working with global corporations like Cisco, Tech Data and L'Oreal, in various capacities. Her areas of expertise include, strategy & planning, operations, marketing, sales, business development and design thinking. She also has entrepreneurial experience as the founder and CEO of the Real Estate Investment Group.

Ogunte: Paoola, what are the 3 words that define you the most?


Paoola Sefair: Kind, determined, honest.

Ogunte: What did you do in your past life, before focusing on social entrepreneurship?

Paoola: In my previous life, I worked in the corporate world at companies like L’Oreal and Cisco. I spent over 20 years working across various capacities including marketing, operations, business development and strategy. Part of my role was to work with the teams based around the world to define the strategy and implement the global programs. This was by far the best part of my experience. I was blessed to meet people from so many cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life. Every interaction taught me something, broaden my mind and expanded my core beliefs.

The biggest lessons I took away from this journey were:

Ogunte: What is the story of your transition towards supporting social enterprises? And if anything, what would you have done differently?

Paoola: My shift in focus towards the non-profit / social enterprise world was accelerated by a few experiences:
The first, becoming a mom and having a deep desire and sense of responsibility to leave a better world for my son. 


The second, experiencing two cancer encounters only a few months apart. Luckily for me only one of these encounters materialized into a cancer diagnosis. Going through these two experiences (mom & cancer) within an 18-month period forced me to answer big questions about life that had gone unanswered for too long.

And through this journey I came out the other side with greater clarity about my life’s purpose and priorities then i ever had before.

Today my MTP (massively transformative purpose) is to make a positive impact in the lives of one billion people.

I don’t yet know how i will accomplish this goal, but i am loving the journey to discovering the answer!
My first stop along this journey was Moving Worlds, thanks to them i was introduced to Servane at Ogunte. From our first meeting sparks flew, we had great chemistry. And what started out as a 6 month project has turned into a beautiful friendship.

I no longer take for granted a warm shower, a doctor’s visit, clean drinking water…

Ogunte: One of your current many hats is provide support to social enterprises, activists, and community groups that provide relief, aid, to refugees, what do you feel are the main issues they face logistically?

Paoola: The next stop in my journey led me to working with local NGOs helping refugees in Greece and Austria. This experience has been profound on many levels. On a personal level it has heightened my appreciation and gratitude in my life. I no longer take for granted a warm shower, a doctor’s visit, clean drinking water… and the list goes on. It has also given me great insight into humanity’s willingness to help one another. I have met volunteers who have put their lives on hold for the last two/three years so they can help refugees stuck in limbo on the islands. The challenges and conditions these small NGOs face are unimaginable, yet somehow they find resources and strength to keep moving forward.

The top challenges faced by these smaller NGOs are:

  • - access to funding

  • - specialized skills (donor management, social media, story telling, etc…)

  • - and people’s power 

  • This insight has led me to investigate how exponential technologies (like AI) can be used to close the gap for these type of small organizations that are the lifeline for millions of people around the world. How to use exponential technology to help social enterprises scale.

    Ogunte: You have also made the decision to go back to class, what kind of training have you followed and what did you take away from it?

    Paoola: I follow closely Peter Diamandis’ work and I do believe we are living in a time of abundance (knowledge, access to information, technology). Currently I am learning about artificial intelligence and investigating how to use this exponential technology to help NGOs and social enterprises scale and amplify their impact.

    Jump in, become a social enterprise supporter!

    Ogunte: If you could advise other mentors/supporters of social enterprises who come from the corporate world, what would you advise them to explore, learn more of before starting?

    Paoola: I would suggest they jump in! A lot of the corporate experience translates over to the social enterprise space.  

    Ogunte: What are the key features at Ogunte that got you most interested?

    Paoola: I was attracted to Ogunte immediately when I read their mission to empower women-led social enterprises. I think it’s critical that women support women both personally and professionally. We should focus on building each other up instead of tearing each other down. I believe there is plenty opportunities for our all boats to float!

    Ogunte: Finally, what is the question that nobody ever asks you, you wish you could answer right now?

    Paoola: I wish more women talked about the journey into motherhood. The true reality of becoming a mom. The impact on our identity and the hit our confidence takes as we move into the unknown — child rearing. And how this process spills into and impacts our professional life and marriage. Just like there are birthing classes, there should be motherhood prep courses to give us a glimpse into what’s to come…

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    Tiny Strategies for Self-Care

    by Servane Mouazan

    I am navigating a sector where people give selflessly to their purpose, facing disheartening and disempowering policies, change of governments, budget cuts, increasing pockets of poverty and inequalities, resignation of champions who are not being listened to. Personal dramas.

    It is tough.

    Even the strongest vocations and a robust passion for change need nurturing. Even the fiercest campaigners need to pause sometimes to replenish. Believe me, this is not about luxury spa treatments or chic self-indulging meditation retreats. If only.  

    During our last Ask Me Anything session this summer, we talked about self-care strategies and shared examples and insights from members of our Impact Women network.

    A definition for Self-Care

    I think it is the personal decision to activate tools, techniques and general lifestyle changes that can help manage the symptoms of many mental and physical health problems one can face in their personal, social and professional life.

    I stress the “personal decision to activate”, because I have seen a lot of social entrepreneurs being totally aware of what they needed to do to feel and be better, that they should slow down, or move away from toxic practices or relationships. And the last thing they need is another self-appointed guru to tell them what to do. They know. But they don’t always do anything about it.

    The key thing is to take the decision and activate.

    Because there is no self-care without practice

    Why do we procrastinate?

    Question from Kirstie Sivapalan: “It seems clear that self-care is essential to creating a sustainable empathetically connected world. (Physician heal thyself?) If so why do many of us choose not to prioritise our own self-care and how can we break that cycle?”

    What makes us fail is that we often think about acts of grandeur first, big goals, huge visions and there’s little planning or strategy in between. And if these words make you roll your eyes, a strategy doesn’t need to be complicated.

    It can be about saying no 3 times a day to something that is toxic to you.

    It can be about saying yes 3 times a day to something that is good for you.

    It’s about having a way to track and measure these YES and NO and after a week or two, looking at what came out of that. A pen. A sheet of paper.

    So what our friends in the network repeatedly say, when we interview them: the first thing is to assess what you can do and can’t do considering your own personal situation. Some people have the luxury to have partners, or relationships they can rely upon, so that they can insert more time for reflection, mental or physical support. Others don’t. And others live in a place with conflict or dangerous social or domestic contexts.

    So before committing to anything, it is about assessing what you have (not what you haven’t got).

    It could be a specific environment, a park, a friend, a neighbour, a community centre, a mentor, a parent, even a pet.

    An outdoor space, a significant other, an animal can help you start and commit to an action.

    Emotional Energy

    Minnie Baragwanath, CEO of Be.Accessible, founded the Be. Institute in 2011 because she envisions a world that is truly accessible and inclusive of all people. Based out of Auckland, New Zealand, Be. Accessible is a holistic social change initiative that will stop at nothing to change the way society engages with access citizens

    We interviewed Minnie this year, here’s what she shared around self-care

    Ogunte: Your work involves giving out a lot of emotional energy. What does self-care mean to you?

    Minnie Baragwanath: Two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That forced me, in a very abrupt way, to seriously ask myself these questions. At that point, I had slightly lost track of self-care as a priority, which can easily happen when you’re in start-up mode. Since then, I’ve been much clearer with my boundaries, and knowing when I need to take time off work. I’m very conscious now that I can’t take my health for granted.

    “In my day to day, I make it a priority to deal with issues quickly, and not leave things that are bothering me to fester and grow in my imagination. This way, I avoid the build up of unresolved worries  I think of it as doing my ‘Minnie Housework’, a weekly clean-up of my own brain!”

    She exercises, and visits a counselor regularly, which she finds incredibly sustaining. “I need that trusted sounding board for whatever might be going on”.

    The Role of Networks to be better at self-care

    Your network, your connections to the outside world are absolutely essential. Particularly the inner circle, people who help you keep sane.

    The penny dropped for me when I met feminists activist groups in Meso and South-America, who are frequently exposed to violence on-line and off-line, from various individuals and sometimes even public institutions, and they too stress the importance of building your network.

    Lulu Barrera, founder of Luchadoras (Fighters in Spanish), a Mexico-based social enterprise working to protect and promote women’s rights through an online feminist TV show. One of their projects is about empowering women to fight online harassment and abuse:

    “You have to grow and consolidate a community of women driven by principles of collaboration, solidarity and mutual support, connected on-line and off-line. This is a proven stronger solution to counter violence.”

    The feminist movement and individuals receive a lot of threats online. We need to build joint protocols to know how to react safely and protect each other in the community.

    A global campaign such as Take Back the Tech has experienced this and built tools and protocols for community groups and feminists online.

    If you are not exposed to the same level of violence, wherever you are in the world, I think a community of like-minded people, who care, who show empathy, who check on you, and know the words and gestures that are soothing in the most relevant times, is a good strategy too.

    But be careful, you can be a fantastic networker yourself, you have to learn and remember to let other people come to you, ask you questions, be there to listen to you, let yourself be vulnerable too at time, and be helped.

    The role of self-defence as a mechanism for self-care

    There is a movement around the world to promote physical self-defence.

    Our friends Luchadoras say: “Mastering self-defence contributes to policies of self-care and group care in the midst of a risky environment related to gender violence on the streets in Mexico.”

    I can testify that practicing a martial arts, although it doesn’t always help when you are physically attacked, is part of a process to finding strength, a space for reflection and a way to assess your own practice.

    I have found this in Capoeira. And I must say, there were times when I forgot that this was the most helpful tool I could turn to in times of need.

    However, it has provided me tools for physical health, mental health, the capacity to fall and stand up again, a global community, which I have been cherishing for almost 20 years this year.

    ( I salute my master Vladimir Frama, from Batuque Capoeira group for sharing his wisdom, his systemic view on life, and the foundation skills he provided me though capoeira.)

    What is your own strategy for self-care?

    My strategy is summarized in these words:

    The big question is what happens behind the scenes? Where is the human being behind the activist, the social entrepreneur, the campaigner that you are?

    How do you take care of yourself and still get work going? You ask yourself, is it really compatible?

    Looking back at the process of my “busy-ness”, and how I jumped on the other side of the productivity and wellbeing fence, I realise progress happened when I became:

    1) Time-limited

    I had a son. And when this happened, he came first. I had less time to complete my work.  I am decidedly not happy when I am asked to formulate a personal 5 years plan. However I have been ever so impressed by my capacity to plan ahead when it comes to him. First, the logistic and basic baby commodities, the childminder, later the school, the trips, the play dates, broken teeth, remember to delegate homework and other duties to daddy - EQUALLY- , and other matters…

    With the baby, my working week shrunk from “10 days to 2”. Literally. During the two remaining days, work related activities were confined between 5 and 7am, a couple of sessions in the late morning, another one just after lunch and a last stretch after 8pm.

    2) Focused

    I started to map all the activities I was running at Ogunte, the knowledge I had acquired from our clients and connections, and merged all this in 3 products maximum. One of them became a growth readiness programme with a strong financial focus, aimed at Women-led Social Enterprises. The other product turned out to be a focused coaching offer with associated monitoring and evaluation framework, and the final was a learning and development programme management service for foundations and business support organisations.

    3) Approachable

    I decided to digitalise most of my activities. Someone wanted a coffee? Then it had to be online and I allocated a specific and limited space during the week for this, cut in chunks of 30 minutes. I always asked people to send me a specific pragmatic question they wanted to reflect upon. I let people book their slot online. I also learnt that a brilliant chat could also come in the shape of an old fashion written conversation. I love Slack.

    For people who still wanted coffee, I took them to events I had to attend where they also made tons of new connections. If they were serious with their purpose, they had to follow up.

    4) Stimulated

    I accepted to join, or speak at events that were clearly related to my work stream, or that could clearly provide me with food for thoughts. As I love out-of-the-box thinking, my selection always remained diverse and exciting. The question I was asking myself: if you go there, what will you do with the information? This generally helped me select the most interactive events. Another tactic was to organise these stimulating learning events for Ogunte, which ticked several boxes at once.

    5) Available

    Crucially, I said goodbye to the tasks I was not an expert in or that prevented me from engaging with stakeholders at a strategic level. I subcontracted fantastic women to deliver on social media, accounting, strategy, design. The time saved enabled me to deliver more and paid for services, which in turn enabled me to pay for the growing staff. A meaningful investment.

    6) Switched off

    Finally, to preserve my sanity and to provide me with a much needed creative space, I categorically refused to engage with work at specific time of the year, or after a certain time of the day.  I started focusing more on my neighbours, my health, arts and martial arts. I rekindled with my sense of empathy. All this proved to give me productive brain and body stimulation, which ultimately made me a better business person.

    When I took myself offline I also realised that there was an addiction at every corner. It could be an addiction to the web, an addiction to food, drink, an addiction to getting rewards, and of course, an addiction to rescuing others and fight for a purpose.

    Flipping this on its side, it’s interesting to look at what happens when we are inactive, when we recharge, and when we let others help us. What judgment emerges? What underlying concept are we dragging around?

    I understood that being switched off, didn’t mean becoming weak, useless or invisible.

    By being too active, or involved without purpose, I could end up resenting my work.

    I could become bitter to not having enough play time.

    By being too active I risked losing myself, and ultimately others.

    So to recap, self care might be about (and not only)

    ·      Being aware of your constraints and managing yourself as it it was part of your work strategy.

    ·      Building connections and relationships in and out of work

    ·      Evaluating your habits with honesty

    ·      Learning to say no to toxic habits, learning to say yes to environments and people that are good for you.

    ·      Not turning treats into new toxic habits.

    ·      Linking decisions with deeper meaning and higher purpose.

    Connect with bold women changemakers all over the world tough the Impact Women Map (http://map.ogunte.com ) abd share your self-care practice on the tweeter feed.

    For more coaching tips and questions to boost your social venture, read our previous posts on this Ogunte Blog.

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    Why is willing to change the world not enough...

    By Servane Mouazan

    image


    In August, one of our Ask Me Anything sessions focused on “Communicating your purpose”. (You can check the video here).

    Here’s the set of questions we looked at:

    Question 1 Why is having a clear purpose important?
    Servane Mouazan:
    Let me share with you a conversation I had with Isabel Kelly,  a social justice advocate and founder of “Profit With Purpose”, a consultancy she founded, after a few years at Salesforce. She ran the international team at Salesforce Foundation and turned it into a profitable ($12m revenue) business unit within the company. This enabled the delivery of the 1/1/1 model of corporate philanthropy - volunteering, grants and product donation, which was, in effect, a start-up social enterprise embedded into a fast-growing commercial company.  
    Now with Profit with Purpose, Isabel is bringing both the NGO and corporate worlds together by creating strategies with SMEs who want to integrate real social purpose into their business.

    I asked Isabel: What questions do your clients never ask you, you wished they did…?
    Isabel Kelly said: “I wish clients were more questioning about WHY they do the things they do… Organisations tend to get very focused on the tactics (the ‘what’) and the 'why’ gets lost along the way. It’s essential to have a clearly articulated purpose or vision for the social impact they want to create, together with a great plan for how to get there. Clients rush to wanting to fundraise or increase their income but often need to take a few steps back to better articulate their proposition”.

    A PERSONAL PURPOSE STATEMENT

    Question 2: I think I need to be clear about my own purpose first, what do you think?
    SM: Absolutely!
    And these things change or can appear to you suddenly.
    Look at how Cecilia Milesi, from Global Change and Subir al Sur in Argentina, states hers:
    “I’m a woman with a clear purpose since childhood. I work collectively with many others to co-create a world of justice and dignity for all. “

    Bilikiss Abiola, who transitioned from WeCyclers, the social enterprise she founded, to Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency where she became General Manager:

    “I was never an environmentalist on purpose - I think I fell into it! But now I’m seeing that we need more people like me to make some noise about the environment. Most people do not think environmental issues are important. Changing this is a matter of life and death.
    It doesn’t matter where you are, the well-being of the planet affects us all! Some people think: Well, oh, what we need in Africa is roads and security, or this and that. The environment is not high on their list of priorities.
    They talk about securing the pyramid of food, shelter, and clothing before you get anything else. People need to hear that the real base of the pyramid is the environment – if you don’t have a stable, safe environment, then you cannot survive”

    image

    Bilikiss Abiola


    MAKTOUB

    The last example is from Essma Ben Hamida from Enda Inter-Arabe in Tunisia.
    Essma co-founded enda inter-arabe with her husband Michael in 1990. It is now one of the highest rated microfinance institutions in the world, and has distributed over one million loans, benefiting over 330,000 borrowers.
    “I left teaching to become a journalist – I dreamt of changing the world. But despite writing about the big issues, I realised I was disappointed because nothing changed; they were not solving any problems.”

    At some point she realised something about the contributions of small NGOs who were really doing something against poverty despite adverse contexts.

    An article on why farmers in Tunisia were not paying back their loans brought me home. I talked to a lot of people, a lot of women - the situation was very bad. Suddenly, while talking to a woman, something struck me very significantly. In Tunisia, we call it ‘maktoub’ - it was a moment of seeing my destiny, my purpose. I was sent to do this article so that I can reconnect with my country, and do something to help the women of Tunisia”.

    image

    Essma Ben Hamida

    Question 3 What do you need to focus on when you work on your organisation purpose statement?


    SM: When you run a social business - meaning, when you align your commercial objectives with your social purpose - you are not always selling easy products or services (at least not all of us), you put some social and environmental parameters in the equation. What we do is connected to a change that is needed, pain, sometimes horror stories, issues we want to see gone. And the first hurdle - after making sense of our why - is to communicate what we do without making people run away, or roll their eyes with early exhaustion. We need to keep them on board. Not just feel inspired…

    When you start crafting your organisation statement, something you need to think about is “Am I challenging enough?” or “Am I overwhelming / confusing my audience?”

    At Ogunte, since 2001, we have chosen to explore social entrepreneurship with a gender lens and specifically highlight and support women who focus on changing people’s worlds, and their environment. It is a very wide angle as we have to be intersectional to cater for the  various needs or objectives women have in this space, and at the same time we want to see them shine and make decisions at the highest level possible, without victimising them. Our challenge is to make this topic exciting enough and not overwhelming for people who might be overwhelmed by feminism… (although I think they have a problem of their own, if that is their case!)  

    “Your purpose should be also a vessel for people to shine… “

    We have a tagline that helps us in the process: “A better world, powered by women…”
    This is a conversation trigger… it assumes something is changing, and that women are heard, at the heart of decision-making, valued and recognised in the process of powering, fueling change, alongside men, and in all their diversity, and intersectionality.
    (At least, that’s what we hope this tagline vehiculates… Maybe some people feel overwhelmed… so we need to balance this by explicitly adding specifics on how we do this and how OTHERS can do this. So it shouldn’t’ be instructions, but guidance, and beliefs, a “rallying value layer” that gives a flavour of your ethos and how you do things.

    image

    We believe in ImpactWomen:
    Influential, skilled and connected women with bold solutions to social and environmental issues can create sustainable opportunities to make the world a better place. They are also more likely to be listened to and valued as civic, political and economic contributors.

    … and a strong support ecosystem
    We believe that a stronger ecosystem of advisors, supporters and finance providers, that operates with a conscious gender-lens, can contribute to grow women in social enterprises and their work.
    Our purpose is to make this healthy ecosystem a reality, to address gender equality, and contribute to social justice.
    So the final bit is about Repercussions and Rewards.
    • What is the cost of you not intervening.
    • What is the reward and the benefit of your intervention?

    Question 4: What if I am in a place where it is not safe to speak up and share my organisation’s purpose?

    When you are in an unsafe place/ social or political context, you need to create alliances, and form a block with other like minded organisations, a united voice. For your personal support and also to never stay isolated. Find common purposes beyond your own, a network organisation for instance that understands your objectives. A great example is the Association for progressive communications ( APC). APC is an international network of organizations that was founded back in 1990 to provide communication infrastructure, including Internet-based applications, to groups and individuals who work for peace, human rights, protection of the environment, and sustainability. So very frequently, when their members see their internet shut down, APC creates a relay network to provide support, and continue to provide information on their behalf if that is what they need.

    Question 5: Why is willing to change (or save…) the world not enough?

    SM: Because it is vague, whose world is it? Maybe it’s not believable, changing the whole world? Who is changing it, who is helping, who is likely financing it? Who is calling the cards? Changing it t what, to whose image? Who is inclined to campaign and change the law to support this plan?
    Why hasn’t been done before?
    And whilst you are focusing on this, what would be the systemic repercussions of achieving your purpose?

    a) The brain doesn’t like a blank sheet. It finds it horrible, you have to plant the seeds of your story, so set the context, bring in evidence.
    b) Start to work with what you know, the evidence you have, you need to buy in this purpose 100% and contribute to it day and night, as a matter of principle, otherwise you will feel mis-aligned.
    c) A course I encourage you to take up to grasp the origins and consequences of issues and how to affect change systemically, is the System Practice course by Acumen+ (Next intake October 2018 - Free course)

    Communicating your purpose is about clarity of intention, it is about timeliness, and audience. It is about why your presence is relevant, how you fit, now and overtime. At some point you will have to explain how you serve, how you create change, which tools you use. Immediately after this statement, you should be able to bring about evidence, traction, and arguments that support this statement.

    At the core of it, at its foundation, is of course, how you as an individual are able to find your MAKTOUB.

    Like Essma Ben Hamida from Enda InterArabe, when stars align and you take a step back, you can find yourself at the intersection of duty, care, dream, passion and skills, you find your purpose, your destiny. Listen carefully and observe!

    Please look at our previous videos on our Facebook page, they are packed with links, resources and tips (we previously talked about leadership, governance, and today was the AMA on Communicating your Purpose).

    There are many ways we can help you grow your social venture, check out our services here

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    Women in social enterprise, forget the “soft touch”, focus on this instead.

    by Servane Mouazan

    This is a quick cheat sheet that you can use when you get too much advice and guidelines, and your head starts spinning.

    Focus on the essential (in this post and the ones that precede… we are here to serve!)


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