On International Women’s Day, 75 middle- and high-school girls from under-resourced communities met 75 women in finance in the San Francisco Bay Area, at the Empowering Women For The Future event presented by Bay Area Financial Education Foundation. The girls are writing business plans for their NFTE classes―based on their unique interests and talents―and these leading women in finance offered counsel and professional perspective.
“It opened up my perspective to new opportunities and things I never really thought I would do,” said Janet, NFTE student at San Leandro High School. Topics discussed included target market, distribution, storytelling and presentation skills, among other key aspects of launching a business.
“This event is to help provide additional support, so [women students] are not shy about presenting their ideas… so that they dream big about what they want to do, what kind of business they want to have,” says Salina Yeung, NFTE volunteer and CFO & CCO at Union Square Investment Co.
NFTE staff this year did indeed notice a trend around shyness: many students mention the courage to share new ideas as their #1 life-learning from the NFTE experience. Students explain that they used to be afraid to share their ideas, so they wouldn’t—but after taking a NFTE class they’re confident in sharing their ideas, developing them, and putting them into action. Imagine this victory, both for these young people themselves and for the society that will benefit from their creativity and grit.
As the world faces significant global challenges such as how to produce sustainably, improve public health, and promote peace, it is especially important to empower girls to see themselves as innovators and to be confident leaders. While women are under-represented in high-paying, high-impact careers like tech, they are also more likely than men to start social good enterprises. Today women do not represent half of startup founders. Women comprise only 9% of tech company founders in the United States, and women are owners of only 36% of all U.S. small businesses. To tackle global challenges—and to prepare girls for successful and equitable careers—we must activate the entrepreneurial mindset in the classroom and then support girls as they grow into women entrepreneurial leaders.
Today’s women business leaders echo this sentiment: “As an entrepreneur with deep roots in Corporate Finance, it was wonderful to meet and partner with women leaders investing their afternoon to empower the next generation of women building great companies. Personally, I can’t think of a better investment that will reap dividends to last a lifetime,” says Surina Piyadasa, NFTE volunteer and Founder & CEO of Dynamically Speaking LLC.
NFTE girls also had the opportunity to interview Build-A-Bear founder Maxine Clark this International Women’s Day. See what Maxine had to say, and learn more about NFTE National Challenge winners Anna Doherty and Hope Sacco, 8th grade co-founders of Girls Coloring for Change.
Interested in supporting NFTE? Volunteer or make a gift to bring the entrepreneurial mindset and startup skills to more young people.
This Women’s History Month, let’s help prepare more girls to make history!