The power of female entrepreneurship – Mercedes-Benz
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day founder Wendy Diamond shares how she built a global advocacy campaign from scratch.
Two years after hosting the most expensive dog wedding in history to raise funds for the Humane Society of New York, social entrepreneur Wendy Diamond set her sights on an even bigger goal— uplifting the 250 million impoverished girls worldwide while empowering all women to pursue business. She created an international campaign to promote female entrepreneurship, called Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED), and together with a team of volunteers and the support of some of the world’s top influencers, WED is helping to initiate more women-led startups, drive economic expansion, and advance community-building worldwide.
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day’s affiliate site, ChooseWomen.org, builds on this mission by allowing users to shop online at their favourite stores while contributing a portion of the sales to help finance microloans for women at no extra cost. She’s Mercedes caught up with the enterprising Wendy Diamond and her rescue dog Baby Hope in between a morning coffee and a visit to rainy Central Park to learn her important perspective on supporting female entrepreneurship.
How did you build up the network of volunteers that you have?
I reached out to the world – everyone from my childhood in Ohio, college in Boston, work life and travels around the world. I asked them to nominate the most influential women in their countries to represent a new movement to empower women in business to alleviate poverty. We compiled an amazing group of all volunteer ambassadors who work with their respective governments, organisations and business leaders to launch the WED movement in their countries. I knew if I could bring what I learned in the animal world to the women’s world, we could create the greatest movement to empower women in business to make a positive impact in the world. I believe that everyone in the world wants to be of help – and my job as a social entrepreneur is to simplify how people can help and make it easy for anyone to do so. Change happens from the ground up not the top down!
Why does the world need a Women’s Entrepreneurship Day?
Globally, women perform 66 % of the world’s work yet earn 10 % of the world’s income. At the same time, they account for 85 % of consumer purchases and control $20 trillion in worldwide spending. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) is generating a movement that carries on throughout the year to encourage support for women in business globally. Our mission is based on the idea that by informing people about the facts, they’re more inclined to help. Statistics prove women are paying back microloans worldwide today at a 97 % rate of return. 90 % of the money earned by these women is used to educate their children and provide for their families. When women are empowered in business, they have self-confidence and dignity and are more capable of standing up for one another’s basic human rights. These types of returns are life-changing for entire communities. The more people understand the impact of empowering women in business, the more they will get involved and encourage others to do so.
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is not just a day, it’s a movement. – Wendy Diamond
It seems that through a mixture of both the network you’ve created and your intrinsic personality, you were naturally predisposed to be an activist. I’m interested in your thoughts about how anyone can become an activist for either animal rights or women’s rights and follow in your footsteps.
I don’t think I’m an activist, I am just passionate. If you love what you do, it’s not work – although it definitely can be rough. Most importantly, people need to be open and break out of their comfort zones. If I hadn’t been open to new experiences, none of this would have happened.
WED and She’s Mercedes have the shared goal of creating a space for women’s achievements to be celebrated. Why do you think that these kinds of platforms are still necessary and what do you think is a worthwhile goal for our platforms to strive for?
The goal for any non-profit or charity should be to go out of business. We want to solve the problem we are addressing once and for all. The goal is for women to be earning the same amount of money and for there to be equal job opportunities. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, women are now allowed to vote and a lot of the WED leaders in Saudi Arabia are involved in that. There are so many opportunities stemming from this change. The more we leverage our platforms to raise awareness of these issues, the more people think about the fact that they need to empower women in business, give women a chance and treat women as equals.
How can people participate in WED?
Go onto ChooseWomen.org. If you shop there, it costs you no extra money and a percentage of each sale benefits women globally. If we can all get behind a movement from the ground up, we have a chance to really alleviate poverty.
That’s a very beautiful concept! Last question for you, what’s next for WED?
Our movement has grown exponentially in the past two years and our focus continues to be scaling and advancement of our current signature initiatives. With ChooseWomen we want to eventually create the largest portal of women-owned businesses around the world so that wherever you are you can find women to support locally. We’re already in 144 countries but we want to be everywhere. We want everyone to realise why it’s so important to empower women in business.
We love that goal! And we wish you the best of luck with that, Wendy, we think you’re on an amazing path.
No small task! But thank you very much. We’re going to do it!