Thursday, March 8, 2012

Portland Society Meeting

I enjoyed a sunny, if frosty, ride downtown early yesterday morning to attend the March Portland Society meeting. These monthly meetings are just one of the many benefits of membership in this fabulous ladies networking group. Let me know if you'd like to join and I'll see if I can get you in!

Jennifer Ruwart was this month's presenter. She runs Moyo Jasiri - "strong heart" in Swahili - an innovative organization in the women's global entrepreneurial market. They provide an incubator in the form of an on-line presence, connecting female entrepreneurs in developed and undeveloped countries. By bridging the economic and cultural gaps, the site enables these women to work together to develop their businesses (see link to right).

Jennifer told an inspirational and interesting story of how her ideas evolved. She started by creating an on-line classroom, but it simply didn't resonate with her target audience. She shifted to a quest for artisan training to help these women sell high-end crafts they make themselves, but a trip to Kenya completely changed her perspective.

She realized the artisan market was saturated, as is the outreach available to this niche. She also realized that this market is a lot like colonialism: the business owner needs outside help and outside customers, so it's not the self-starting sustainable model she envisioned after all.

Here comes the inspirational part. No matter how many times Jennifer and her colleagues changed their mission and vision, she did not allow herself to get stuck. She continued her mantra "return to center". She kept going back to her initial motive of helping women in developing countries gain and sustain financial independence with their own businesses.

Jennifer figured out what is unique about herself and her mission, which turned out to be the ultimate way to figure out how to accomplish her mission. She dropped the idea of giving business ideas and and instead asked women "what is unique about you and your mission?" so she could figure out how to help them accomplish it.

We, as business owners and workers, can learn from this example to find our own niches. Learn to see getting stuck as an opportunity to transition to something better. Figure out what is unique about you and your mission. Create a space of dreaming - a space of "yes" with no limitations. We have the power to make these things happen, and, with a cache of powerful partners within the Portland Society - we have a network to help us realize our dreams.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for writing about last weeks society meeting. It was an honor to be invited to share my vision. I cannot find the email you sent me. Grrrr... Will you resend?
    Many thanks!
    Jennifer Ruwart
    Founder, Moyo Jasiri