Connecting Founders has provided business networking and mentoring opportunities to women-owned start-ups and small businesses during the past two years.
Through our Women in Business Series, we created a space where women entrepreneurs could share experiences, learn from each other, and build valuable connections. Together with featuring the entrepreneurial stories of 50 female founders, this work has helped create new role models in the community, giving more voice and visibility to women entrepreneurs.
Since we opened our doors in 2015, this is what we have accomplished:
Workshops and mentoring sessions have been an opportunity to share and flesh out issues ranging from turning an idea into a business, to retaining talent, accessing finance, pitching to investors, and exporting regionally or internationally. Educational videos of our sessions are publicly available.
What we’ve learned over the last two years is that female founders are seeking:
While we continue to offer leadership training in partnership with soft skills provider Andragogy and we facilitate business networking opportunities through our Lean In chapter and ad hoc events in partnership with various academic and business entities, we have also recently launched our Financial Advisory Services to provide our entrepreneurs with tailored advice for their business and prepare them for their next level of growth.
With business networks prolific in Asia, finding an entry point to female entrepreneurs has been made easier for investors. However, most capital is not being tailored to entrepreneurs’ needs. We address this gap in the market by providing first and foremost financing advice and education to entrepreneurs so they themselves are better equipped to negotiate with confidence the capital they require for their businesses to flourish. We also work closely with its investor network to tailor financing solutions that meet both sources requirements and recipient cashflow needs.
To tap into a business network that will provide them with tools and resources to decide on their own how to expand their business.
To learn leadership skills (verbal and non-verbal communication, negotiation skills) to build their confidence and executive presence; and
To access trusted financial advice when raising capital, negotiating with investors and business partners, and planning to expand locally, regionally, or internationally.
In October 2015 Connecting Founders launched the Women in Business Southeast Asia series, a program of “network & learn” monthly events where women entrepreneurs exchange experiences, share lessons learned, and build valuable connections. The series, sponsored by the US Embassy and Orami (a women-focused e-commerce provider), was designed to address specific business topics that have emerged as particularly relevant to women entrepreneurs based on face-to-face interviews (mentoring; brand & marketing; fear of failure; exporting; finding and retaining talent; access to finance; leadership).
Our two Women in Business series focused on three main goals:
Create new role models. Women entrepreneurs make up roughly 50% of Thailand’s businesses. Despite this, there are not enough easily identifiable female role models, particularly from non-traditional female sectors. Women entrepreneurs don’t get enough visibility and media coverage. Our events celebrate women entrepreneurs from diverse fields and create new role models, real examples that people can relate to because “You can’t be what you can’t see” (LeanIn);
Build self-confidence and encourage women to dream big. Many women, particularly young women, express a strong need for a robust support system before feeling confident enough to set up their own business or to grow it to the next level. The Women in Business event offer a safe space where to discuss fear, doubts, challenges, and ask questions honestly and openly to other women that often have gone through the same experience. This allows young entrepreneurs to gain self-confidence and learn valuable lessons from real-life experiences.
Encourage women to collaborate & give back. There is a tremendous pool of extremely talented and savvy women entrepreneurs in Thailand. The Women in Business events tap into this reservoir of businesswomen to get them to share more of their lessons learned and acquired wisdom to nurture the next generation of young and aspiring women entrepreneurs. We believe that the success of a woman is the inspiration of another.