By Katharina Neureiter
Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. Yet, women are often ‘invisible’ in mainstream tech conversations, for instance eight out of ten companies profiled on the FT Tech Founder podcast are started by men. The fact that only 2.19% of global venture capital goes to women-led startups, and only 0.1% of that goes to startups led by black female founders, show how dire the situation in the global tech space is. Yet, there are plenty of women who beat the odds and are building incredible companies out of a desire to use technology to solve fundamental problems.
Eunice Baguma-Ball has set out to do something about this. As a tech founder herself, she has experienced many of the institutional barriers that female entrepreneurs face around the world.
Her latest project is the Founding Women project, a book that interviews female trailblazers to inspire the next generation of female tech founders. Below are three examples of CEOs profiled in the book that are pushing the boundaries on how technology can change lives for the better:
Temie Giwa-Tubosun - Connecting hospitals with blood donors
The idea to start a business in the healthcare sector came to Temie after she gave birth to a baby girl in a hospital in the US. Her daughter came seven weeks early and the birth was difficult. Originally hailing from Nigeria, Temie realised that chances would have been very high that neither she nor her daughter would have survived the delivery in Nigeria. The country has a high maternal mortality rate— 814 deaths per 100,000 live births. The need for blood is urgent - not just for mothers. Only 43 percent of the 185,000 pints of blood required each year are collected; this shortage means that efficiently getting the available plasma from blood banks to needy patients is crucial. To address this need, Giwa-Tubosun launched LifeBank, an e-health app connecting blood banks with hospitals in Nigeria in December 2015. So far, the company has moved more than 800 pints between blood banks and hospitals. Giwa-Tubosun says LifeBank aims to move 9,000 pints in 2017 - this also impressed Mark Zuckerberg who met with Temie last year during his Nigeria trip.
Jessica Matthews - A light-generating soccer ball
Whilst still in college, Jessica Matthews and co-founder Julia Silverman started Uncharted Play as part of a class assignment. The assignment grew into a multi-million dollar business. Unchartered Play is a solution to produce clean energy through toys. The flagship product, Soccket, is a soccer ball that powers a small, attachable LED light for three hours after only 30 minutes of playing soccer, providing children a reading light with which to do their homework after dark. In 2016, Matthews raised $7 million in Series A funding with the company valued at $57 million. TechCrunch reported that this made Matthews the 13th black female founder to have raised more than $1 million in funding.
Lilian Makoi - Providing health insurance for low income patients
For the 50 million Tanzanians with no health insurance a doctor’s bill of as little as $25 dollars can mean financial ruin. This often prevents families from seeking treatment with sometimes fatal consequences. Lilian Makoi set out to change this situation and started a mobile health insurance business where the cheapest policy is available for a minimum of $1dollar per day and works cashless on a smart-phone. Her start-up has taken off after she was admitted to the Barclay’s/Techstars Accelerator programme and able to expand with $750,000 seed funding raised. She says: “The Barclays Accelerator equipped us with the required business design, management and growth skills we badly needed. Through the program we gained amazing connections and introductions that become investors and mentors.
These stories show that if technology is to
truly fulfil its potential as a catalyst, then women must be included at the
forefront of developing the solutions. Eunice Baguma-Ball has therefore
launched #HerFutureAfrica, an
entrepreneurship skills accelerator for African female entrepreneurs in Accra,
The Founding Women book supports the next
accelerator and helps to build a pipeline of tech talent to solve the world’s
big and small problems. Head to the crowdfunding
page to support the #HerFutureAfrica accelerator and secure one of
the books with inspiring stories of founders that ‘made it’ and their tips on
how to get there.
By Servane Mouazan
“There is nothing more negligent than attempting to address a problem one finds on a branch than by censoring the leaves.”
I was asked one day: why do you talk about a “sense of connectedness”? Isn’t it about your networking skills? Get good contacts for your business, know when and where to show up, and grow your business with all the knowledge, the wisdom and the opportunities you have gathered?
There’s that… and much more.
In 2008, a talk I attended in London during International Women’s Rights Day totally shifted my views. The guest was Angela Davis, the human rights and political activist, a professor in philosophy, and the founder of Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex.
Back in the 70s, as a leader of Communist Party in the USA and the Black Panthers Party, she was branded a terrorist and was sent to jail, for being allegedly associated with a crime. Her friends and supporters did manage to keep her campaign in the limelight, and worked tirelessly through hundreds of committees in the US and abroad to get her released. This fight became an important milestone in the fight against racism, which is sadly still largely unresolved.
Why did she touch me?
Something in particular caught my attention. When Diane Abbott MP, who interviewed her, asked her: “What kept you going all this time?” She said: “Remember I wasn’t the one demonstrating on the streets, I was behind bars. What kept me going is knowing that I was connected. What kept me going, is that our message was out there. What kept me going is that sense of connectedness”.
The penny dropped. Despite all the tireless Angela Davises in the world, we still have to fight so many campaigns today, injustices, the regression of civil liberties, the mis-distribution of wealth, the persistent racism, sexism, the consistent pillage of resources and the list goes on… But I understand that if you combat these issues separately, without understanding systems and connections, you end up like King Sisyphus endlessly rolling a huge boulder up a steep hill, letting it roll down, and start all over again. Not worth the back pain.
What do you learn from this and why is it important in your day-to-day practice?
Growing a sense of connectedness is an act of bravery, humility, and generosity.
Growing a sense of connectedness is about letting go of your intentions to fix things straight away.
I am hearing: “How do you measure connectedness?”
Make a rough start by defining the way you interact with people and how you build relationships to achieve mutual goals.
But don’t go yet. That was the easy part.
Here’s what I learned from Dr Davis:
And finally, how about knocking on your neighbours’ door?
How Ogunte can work with you around connectedness
We help women in social enterprises map and understand the complexity of their ecosystem, form quality and relevant knowledge, and power networks, and address personal sense of connectedness along the way.
For more support
Contact us to trial a Thinking Booster or team coaching to explore how to grow your sense of connectedness.Read more
By Servane Mouazan
During our latest Ogunte brainy breakfast with the fabulous Futureheads Recruitment team and a lively group of women in social enterprises, we explored what it takes to hire and retain talent, we tapped in the crowd wisdom, we heard tips from the pros and the peers, and we all went away with valuable commitments.
This session was hosted and animated by:
Here are a few of the tips that circulated during our session:
Think about your ecosystem
What will you be able to do once you’ve let go of certain activities?
Work on your job description
You know that studies say men tend to apply even if they haven’t got the whole skill set. Women tend to shy away from jobs if they haven’t matched at least 80% of the requirements…. So much talent wasted. Work out what they can or can not do - yet - and make sure they can showcase how they have learnt and delivered in the past. You certainly need some expertise too. What you don’t need is someone stuck in a silo.
If you need a all-rounder, ask for an all-rounder, someone who is clear about what that means on a daily basis.
Be Kaler at Futureheads say she has stopped giving people “second chances” after she was submerged with over one hundred applications for only 6 vacancies. So if the cover letter or the CV contains too many mistakes or doesn’t answer the requirements, or if the candidates seem to be jumping from one job to another without real purpose, and if this doesn’t really fit with the position on offer, she tends to eliminate them early on.
Remember, you are hiring a person who will help you grow your social business and have a bigger impact. Not a friend.
How to spot potential?
Legal questions: what type of contract should I go for?
Evaluate the pros and cons of: ad hoc supplier, shared/part time contract, MOU with associates.
For more resources on various types of contracting, and hiring topics, look at the on ACAS website.
Start small and let things grow. Amend your plans along the way. Is a full time worker really what you need right now? Are you already employed - as a director?
How to attract great talent when you cannot pay for it yet
Paoola, our chief Strategist is extremely valuable to help us validate our services, reframe and communicate our offer better.
This organisation offers 6 months placement of young leaders for purpose-driven businesses in the UK. The service is also available in Paris and Berlin.
Impact Hub, the co-working space for social entrepreneurs, share “non negotiables” in their membership documents as well as their job descriptions. It’s a set of up to 8 or 10 bullet points that outlines key values, principles and beliefs, which you sign up to as a member or as staff. They use a particular language that fits their community.
DigitalMums: What a great decision to delegate our social media activities to Catherine Horsfield, who trained with DigitalMums agencies and set up her own social media consultancy. Catherine immediately got our values and ethos. She understands the market, the language, and she’s is a great promoter of women in social enterprises everywhere in the world. We value her decisions and her working style and she offers challenging insights. So that’s a win!
Read the advice of Karen Lynch from Belu Water: “Don’t spend, invest!”
Get a daily drop of sound management / HR advice in your Slack app from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) bot. (1 min read daily)
About generosity in the workplace
Read this article by Adam Grant. The author of Give and Take explains why generosity in the workplace continues to be more effective than selfishness and why it is critical for personal fulfillment.
Mandalah Global - Discover an example of company DNA/ Culture from this global Conscious Innovation company.Read more
By Servane Mouazan
‘A ten-year plan is absurd. A ten-year commitment is precisely what’s required if you want to be sure to make an impact’ Seth Godin
In our #5Pillars series, we are highlighting elements of the roadmap that make women in social enterprises succeed and more likely to deliver. But success is not just about impacting positively upon your immediate beneficiaries, or clients, it also means paving the way for future generations. It’s about triggering lasting change, shifting attitudes, and accepting that eventually your social enterprise should be made redundant. You are working 24/7 to make yourself disappear.
So how can you define successful leadership in this context? What strategies do you need to singlemindedly promote your cause whilst also engaging with the rest of the world?
How can you talk about your achievements whilst staying humble and acknowledging that you are only been contributing a part to the solution, not solving it all? Or not yet, at least.
How can you align your actions during the day, with what is going through your head, and your actions in private?
It seems to me that “perfect leadership” is a thing for super humans - and perfecting it is never going to be a finished job.
You have probably read hundreds of articles, assessed your leadership style, attended dozens of workshops and talks with thought leaders and discovered what is most suited to leading your organization. I won’t go over this old ground again.
So instead, on your way to solving people’s and the planet’s problems, I am going to ask you some questions.
You will need to fill in the blanks first. And activate this scenario as soon as you have finished.
Knowing that you are working in the field of… and the current constraints around this theme are predominantly (select practical examples) …, …, and … (and these don’t seem to go away), what would you (you, your team, your family, society) need to continue doing, or start doing more of, to make the situation even worse?
Answer here: …
Reflecting on what you would need to do to sabotage the situation really helps you to become more aware of the things that are creating problems.
Now, on your way home today, leaving your leader’s hat and any other hat behind, where do you suddenly spot the issue you are working on?
c) and there as well:…
Find one reason why this is happening in that very location, or one reason why something is not happening, just there.
What if you engaged now in an impromptu conversation with … (stranger), as well as … (someone in your neighborhood), also with … (an elected councilor), and … (an executive/chair from another NGO, social business, or company) and invited them to think about… ?
What if you invited them to activate … with you?
How about you do that this week?
When you get back to work, after this experience, get rid of the superfluous and start focusing on the actions and the relationships you identified, until you get incremental yet evidenced results.
Lastly, share your thinking with me here.
How Ogunte can work with you around visibility and Social Leadership
Our intervention supports women’s influence of change in policy, governance and people’s behaviour. We encourage women into taking influential formal or informal leadership, advisory or executive positions, genuinely “supported” by their stakeholders; we encourage organisations to operate with a gender lens.
For more support
You can also contact us here to trial a Thinking Booster or team coaching that could help you shape a plan around your leadership.Read more
by Emma Becirovic - Ogunte contributor
One of the best ways to grow as a social entrepreneur is by attending an event where you will nurture your connections, increase your professional visibility, and learn from others through panels and debates. The right platform can contribute to your organisation’s learning culture both by bringing up-to-date knowledge, (or diverging opinions!) into your social enterprise and sending knowledge back out into your area of impact. Your confidence and credentials will also be reinforced by appearing at innovative events where you can share your valuable perspectives and experiences. Why not step onto the scene at some of the following events? Most are returning every year. Log them in your calendar to attend future editions!
When: 5th-6th June 2017
Where: the University of Winchester, UK
Themes: “Broadening horizons for social enterprise and pushing the boundaries of the traditional social enterprise market”. The event will challenge participants to think about the wider world, Brexit and the market opportunities. For Social Enterprise Mark Holders on the 1st day and other social enterprises on the second day.
When: 5th-7th July 2017
Where: Paris, France
Themes: Cities and citizens are at the heart of the next great transformation.
Join 1,500 visionaries, entrepreneurs and movement builders to explore how digital technologies and a more collaborative culture can address the great challenges of our time and build systemic change.
Where: Christchurch, New Zealand
Theme: “Ka koroki te manu – Creating our tomorrow”, is an invitation to create a global legacy of positive change and to take an active role in shaping the world’s future. Key streams: Social enterprise in recovery and regeneration; Global citizenship and international development. Nb: Bursaries available.
When: November 2017, date TBC
Where: Ottowa, Canada
Themes: “Money, markets, people, and ideas”. A radical conference bringing together ‘thinkers, disrupters, and doers’ for one day to share their insights and experiences in the social enterprise field.
When: 24th-25th November 2017
Where: Kano, Nigeria
Themes: Discussing and cross-pollinating ideas on entrepreneurship. Run specifically with women in mind and designed to inform and inspire other women who already are or want to run their own enterprises.
When: January 2018, date TBC
Where: Cairns, Australia
Themes: Special focus is “forging solidarity: collective sustainability solutions in a fragmenting world”. This research network attempts to locate what is being experienced in the context of longer, broader and deeper views of the four fundamentals (environment, culture, economy, society) of sustainability.
When: Early March 2018
Themes: sustainable tourism; previous themes include youth development for
peaceful societies and sports as youth empowerment. Intends to inspire, inform and mobilize young delegates and to enable young people to take leadership roles in addressing local and international developmental issues
When: 20th July 2017
Where: Accra, Ghana
Themes: “Reinvent? Replicate! - Replicating Eco-Inclusive Enterprise Solutions for Green Economy and Sustainable Development in West Africa”. Bringing together over 100 enterprises, financial institutions, policy makers, business development service providers and civil society representatives this event aims to generate approaches to and explorations of the business models which will contribute to an inclusive green economy and sustainable development in West Africa.
When: 6th-7th September 2017
Where: Rome, Italy
Themes: “Creating a unified foundation for the Sustainable Development: research, practice and education". Inspired by the critical challenge of human, environmental, and economic sustainability concerning the present and future generations in a global-scale context
When: 7th September 2017
Where: Glasgow, Scotland
Summary: Bringing together 220+ social enterprise leaders, practitioners, supporters, policy makers and funders to gain insight, this annual event will let you share experiences and best practice, and network.
When: 18th-20th September 2017
Where: California, USA
When: 25th-27th September 2017
Where: Virginia, USA
- Social Capital Markets “SoCap”
When: 10th-13th October 2017
Where: San Fransisco, California
Theme: Socap convenes thousands of impact investors, world-class entrepreneurs, and
innovative cross-sector practitioners dedicated to increasing the flow
of capital toward social good.
When: 7th-9th December 2017
Where: San Francisco, USA
When: March, 2018, date TBC
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
What do you think of these events? What appeals to you, and what is lacking? We’d love to gain an insight from you, as women in social business, about what you want to find in an event, either as a visitor, co-sponsor or panel participant.