“(...) The poorest and most backward-going societies in the world, tend to be those who diminish their women and yet, this blatantly obvious truth is usually ignored, all the same, by governments and philanthropists... Women represent 51% of the human race, supporting them will change everything; even more so than technology, design or entertainment. Women who are educated, work and get opportunities will bring peace and prosperity to this desolated world (...)"- Isabel Allende
By Maria Del Rocio Paniagua Dispa (Project Manager, INNKU)
We had the privilege of attending the launch event for Founder Friday in Mexico City. Written by one of the organizers from the local team, this post will cover Shaherose Charania and Patricia Araque's visit.
Even though the names match - Women 2.0 and Ellas 2.0 - the two organizations started separately in two very different regions of the world. Shaherose decided to leave Canada and move to Silicon Valley as soon as she graduated college; she soon noticed that the amount of women at tech and entrepreneurship events was minimal, so she started organizing get-togethers at her friend's apartments, trying to encourage them to become entrepreneurs. Nowadays she's been involved with the project for six years, the last two full-time.
While Shaherose worked on Women 2.0 in San Francisco; on the opposite side of the world, three years later years later, in Madrid, Patricia met with Begoña; a friend she made at a competitive training program for entrepreneurs, they soon started organizing conferences and workshops focused on empowering and supporting women in tech.
They worked for a while, each on their side of the world. Patricia has an uncanny talent that consists in finding useful resources on Facebook, that's how she found out about Women 2.0. Soon after, she took a plane headed to San Francisco's first Startup Weekend ran by Women 2.0; there she met Shaherose (who left her the key to her apartment under the doormat, even though they had never met), her team and a series of entrepreneurs and investors. After the trip, Patricia decided to commit to Ellas 2.0 and to the expansion of the communities of female entrepreneurs in tech.
Shaherose and Celeste met because Celeste wanted to interview her for Emprendela (the most successful podcast and blog focused on entrepreneurship in Mexico), so she looked for her contact info, emailed her and they met through Skype. Before Founder Friday Mexico City, they had never met in person.
Me? I found out about the Startup Weekend organized by Women 2.0 through David Weekly's Facebook (he was also key in connecting Celeste with Shaherose), I attended my first Startup Weekend in DF, where I met Celeste and where I started dreaming about one day organizing an event for women.
Soon after Celeste started collaborating with Opinno, Patricia came across one of her posts and contacted her immediately... "you're going to need a team of volunteers who can help you bring the event to Mexico". A few hours after Celeste spoke to Patricia I received the first email titled "Women 2.0".
A couple of weeks before I got said email I went to Startup Bus, Eoin the Mexican conductor spoke to me about Shaherose and about a couple of projects where they had collaborated. Through Twitter, I found out about SXSW's Founder Friday but my schedule was a mess so I could not attend (Celeste did).
I was attracted by the fact that the format of the event was very similar to #CofoDinner, a dinner party organized by Iki Gaming more or less once a month with the objective of bringing together potential and current entrepreneurs with other relevant actors, such as investors and mentors.
The lead of that event was Fer Legaspi, who rode with me on the Startup Bus and whom I looped in on the invitation to Women 2.0 email the minute it arrived The rest is history - we worked on the logistics and organization of the event for months. The Entrepreneurship Center of Centro and Venture i gave us all their support and sponsored the event which was filled with beverages, snacks, beers, coffee, music and a great ambiance in the terrace of Universidad Centro.
Among the attendees, we had entrepreneurs, investors, people from the government, the UN, the media and big enterprises... All of them with a common goal: empowering current women entrepreneurs as well as those who wish to attempt it.
We have only received good reviews, those who attended left with good contacts, inspiration and even a few work proposals; all that on top of spending a nice evening in the company of a group of people who had never been together in the same space.
After giving Shaherose and Patricia the tour through different areas in Mexico City over the weekend, we started planning the next Founder Friday to take place in August - this time it will be simultaneous with the rest of the world. So we encourage anyone who missed this one to attend the first Friday of August, since one of the objectives of the event is to become part of the routine of the attendees.
Evidently, Fer, Celeste and I are working with Shaherose and Patricia's support to give each event a different focus and approach, but the first step for any successful community is to build efficient communication and connection networks. For that, we are going to need the support of the entire tech and entrepreneurial community who are slowly but surely coming on board and multiplying efforts.
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. Photo credit: Women 2.0 Founder Friday album on Facebook. About the guest blogger: Maria del Rocio Paniagua Dispa is a Project Manager at INNKU. Her involvement in the entrepreneurial and tech community have made her very sensitive to the need of empowering women to become entrepreneurs. She has been involved in the design, development and operation of various proyects and tech startups. She co-founded N-talk to impact the current safety and violence crisis in Mexico. She has been involved in social, mobility and health proyects that have led her to work in Mexico, Egypt and the US. Follow her on Twitter at @lachinous.