It goes without saying, women are beautiful.
We balance the roles of daughter, sister, friend, coworker, significant other and mom without stumbling in our heels or smearing our lipstick. We all have the power to be superwoman – but sometimes it takes an experience to ignite the fire within us. From overcoming obstacles to breaking barriers, there is no limit to what we can accomplish when we believe in ourselves and support each other.
That spirit of helping each other is what The BOSS Network is all about. BOSS is an acronym for “Bringing Out Successful Sisters,” and the network provides a community of entrepreneurial and professional women who support each other through online and event-based networking.
With a special interest in encouraging more women of color to interrupt the white male dominated technology industry, the organization hosted the first event of their year-long tech series called The Launch Summit in January.
As one who studied public relations in college, I’ve never thought of myself as a woman in technology because I wasn’t coding or computing. But after attending The Launch Summit, I realized I had a one-sided view of what a woman in tech looked like. While there were some who worked in traditional tech fields such as engineering or computer information systems, the room was filled with women who used technology to build their businesses, brands and network in different ways. Looking around the room at the beautiful, melanin-pigmented faces inspired me to think bigger. As a blogger and social media marketer, I finally saw that I too was a woman in tech.
More than a hundred women of color gathered in Atlanta to have insightful conversations about the tech-preneur journey, building an online brand, pursuing a career in technology and more at the half-day event. The presenters encouraged attendees to be tech savvy – having a business perspective on technology and knowing how to leverage it to create value. This includes learning the analytics behind the business, such as metrics and conversion rates, and understanding basic principles of coding.
“Learn how to package your expertise and use technology to work for you,” said panelist Emmelie De La Cruz, a personal branding strategist and business auditor. “Build a business without you having to operate so you can make money while you sleep.” Cruz recommends e-books, webinars and email sales funnels to help grow a business using technology.
Tactics to secure funding was another necessary discussion at The Launch Summit, and panelists encouraged the use of crowdfunding, pitch competitions, angel investors and grants to fund startups.
“In 2016, 80% of new businesses were founded by Black and Latina women, yet only .2% of Black and Latina owned businesses received venture funding,” said Cameka Smith, founder of The BOSS Network.
“We have to let the tech community know that women of color are here and that our ideas are both valid and investment-worthy. At the same time, however we have to give women the tools to continue to build and think until the market catches up with our potential.”
Those tools include helping younger techies after reaching success like Kathryn Finney, recipient of the 2017 BOSS Network Minority Female in Technology Award, is doing. As the Founder and Managing Director of Atlanta-based, digitalundivided, Finney implements programs to increase the active participation of women of color in tech.
The BOSS Network sought to combat the lack of funding women of color face when starting businesses with their Elevator Pitch Competition, which was also sponsored by Prudential and Black Enterprise. Five brave attendees competed in the small business start-up challenge, which awarded more than $5,000 in cash and business support. The top-prize winner, Nicole Sanchez founder of E Credit Hero, started a free credit repair program that helps fix errors on credit reports.
“Watching the pitch competition excited me to follow the competitors’ entrepreneurial journeys, and even inspired me to enter into competitions for my business,” says Rochelle Valsaint, Creator of The Inc Life Box, a subscription box service for Black women entrepreneurs that will launch this summer. “What was valuable and beautiful to see and feel was this gathering of women sharing knowledge and encouraging one another.”
Over 75,000 women across the world subscribes to the BOSS mailing list and across America there are countless women connecting at events like The Launch Summit, which will also stop in Houston and Austin in 2017.
Like my view of women in tech, society fails to see how multifaceted and unique women around the world are. Our resilience and strength is admirable despite the inequality and misogyny that we are forced to deal with.
During International Women’s Day and the other 364 remaining days of each year, we need to celebrate the brilliance and beauty of women across the globe. And commend organizations, like The BOSS Network, that are redefining societal perspectives about women’s roles and abilities.
From the project manager at Google in Silicon Valley to an ecommerce marketer to an entrepreneur who uses tech innovations to transform health care – there is no one type of woman in tech just like there is no one type of woman around the world.
And when we support, celebrate and love one another, we continue the infinite circle of girl power that reminds us that we can do, see and be anything that we want.
Lifestyle blogger and published author Teyonna Ridgeway is dedicated to helping people recognize their beauty and unleash their brilliance. By day the Atlanta native works in social media marketing, and by night she drops gems about career, travel, faith and life as a Millennial on BecomingBrilliance.com. She also makes homemade natural body butters and sugar scrubs through her Etsy shop, Gail’s Goods. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @TeyonnaLanez.