On a bluebird Tuesday morning in Alter Hall, the Fox School of Business hosted the 19th annual League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference. With nearly 300 people in attendance, this year’s conference was the largest to date, evidence of strong interest in investing in female innovation. According to stats from the Women’s Business Owner’s Association, there are 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.—yet only 17% of startups are headed by women.
“From recognizing women who have excelled in the fields of law, business, theater, and sports, along with advice about how to ‘Ask for What You Want’ from entrepreneurs, to the three current students pitching their ideas, the conference represented a true cross-section of entrepreneurship,” said Ellen Weber, executive director of Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI).
As the keynote speaker, Yasmine Mustafa (Fox ’06) shared her story of perseverance and inspiration as an undocumented immigrant who is now a proud American citizen and co-founder and CEO of ROAR for Good. As a wearables startup, ROAR for Good helping thousands of women to feel safer around the world. Mustafa relayed a few small business learnings she’s come to embrace over the past few years:
- Others are happy to help
- Get as many no’s as possible
- Give, give, and give some more
Four Temple alumni were inducted into the League’s Hall of Fame during the event, including Arbill CEO Julie Copeland, Blackstar Film Festival founder Maori Karmel Holmes, Axelrod Firm president Sheryl Axelrod, and retired professor and diversity trailblazer Tina Sloan Green. Generosity in words and actions abounded as Copeland doled out “Weapons for Success” to young entrepreneurs in the audience:
- A sense of belief in yourself
- Gratitude, even in the worst times
- Show up every day with love
In candid conversation, Temple Executive Vice President and Provost Joanne A. Epps made a pitch to start-ups to move the needle in innovation.
“I do think it’s important to change the numbers, change perspectives and attitudes,” she said. “It matters profoundly that we don’t have enough female leaders.”
Making pitches of their own, three young entrepreneurs had the opportunity to let the room in on what they were up to. Two Temple students—Stephanie Taylor of TailorFit Laundry and Emily Kight of Ovarian Lab & Biomaterix, gave three-minute pitches. Adding one final voice, eighth-grade student Anna Welsh, founder and CEO of Little Bags, Big Impact, shared her textile recycling business model with a bit of social enterprise mixed in for good measure.
“I design, hand cut, and sew small bags from locally sourced materials,” she said. “I have an accountant, a lawyer, have received an official U.S. trademark, have sold over 1,000 bags and employ two people two part-time. Expansion plans include moving my business out of my parent’s house.”