More than a century ago, on Feb. 28, 1909 in New York, the first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States, directly as result of female garment workers’ going on strike to protest against terrible working conditions. According to the UN, this is recognized as one of the first progressive movements for women, demonstrating their strength in unity and the equality they deserved. Fast forward 66 years, in 1975, during International Women’s Year, when the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day each March 8th.
To celebrate this special day we will be taking a looking at three inspiring female entrepreneurs from around the world, taking a brief look into their successes and what it means to be a female entrepreneur in today’s modern world.
Andrea Lukács is an inspiring entrepreneur, mother, gender equality advocate and the CEO of Women Startup Competition. Originally from Budapest, Hungary, Andrea left her previous position as a headhunter to pursue a more fulfilling career. She now runs the Women Startup Competition (WSC), an annual event that aims to support, celebrate and encourage gender diverse startups, through the empowerment of female entrepreneurs. While developing WSC in her home country of Hungary, and expanding well across the CEE region, Andrea was also battling personal challenges, which have ended up changing the path of WSC as well.
Andrea’s son suffers from DMD (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy), a progressive, deteriorating muscle wasting disease. In seeking the best treatment for her son, Andrea learned about an opportunity for an experimental treatment in Florida. As a graduate of a genetics degree, Andrea knew that this treatment could be something life-changing. With help and support from her family, the decision was made to move from Budapest to the US. In doing so, she took her work with WSC with her.
“I do believe that the future will be brighter, with more gender equality in business,” she said. “There is still a long-long way to go, but the timing is perfect for female entrepreneurs and there are more and more opportunities designed especially for women. We, the Women Startup Competition, a global network and opportunity provider, experience the growth of women driven biz and in the past 5 years, it is exponential. I do see a great deal of progress, because there is the constant need of female empowerment via training, mentoring and advising.”
She added: “My general success is when I can work with men and not against the other gender. It is a success, when I see shy girls changing and becoming real entrepreneurs with our help and with our global network’s good examples. Because every single woman in our ‘fempreneur family’ is a role model, because they try, they learn, they work hard for their goals.”
Ruschelle Khanna is a female entrepreneur, founder of Ruschelle Khanna, LCSW & Associates, and an advocate fighting for health, business and change. After being diagnosed with Lyme disease, Ruschelle’s experience with the chronic illness encouraged her to pursue a career helping and healing others. Now she is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with over 15 years experience as a psychotherapist in New York, Connecticut and West Virginia, who has undoubtedly helped many individuals in numerous areas of her career. For example, she is also a neurological Lyme disease expert and uses therapeutic healing modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy and tapping to help those suffering from Lyme disease and other chronic conditions.
This year has marked another phenomenal turning point in her career after stepping into the role of teacher in her business. She is now carrying out this role as a consultant for companies who want to understand the power of relationship in their organizations as well as among her own staff, alongside a strong mentoring program for her clinicians.
“There has never been a better time for women to be in business,” she said. “There is finally a dialogue among female entrepreneurs where we do not have to model masculinity to be successful. Culturally we are stepping into the feminine way of approaching progress. This looks like collaboration over competition. Competition has its place, but in the new world of women in business, we no longer accept an idea that we must be masculine to succeed. Collaboration is key.”
Helena Hills is an incredible example of an unstoppable female entrepreneur in the UK startup scene, with a long list of awards to prove it, such as Natwest Everywoman Brand of the Future 2016 (Winner), GB Entrepreneur Awards – Scale-Up Entrepreneurs of the Year 2017 (winner and a judge for the Family Busines category) and RBS Global Focused Women Award 2016 (finalist), to name a few. She is the co-founder and CEO of Truestart Coffee, the world’s #1 energising coffee, which has flourish from a small business in the south-west city of Bristol, into a worldwide brand, sold in 21 countries and growing with an ever increasing range of products. What’s more, the phenomenal success of the brand has occurred in only two years. Helena tells us this is just the start, with plenty of new announcements and product releases set to come in 2018 for the Truestart brand.
“Personally I’ve found the startup scene to be way more equal and uplifting for women than the corporate world, but there is still underrepresentation and I speak to women all the time with great business ideas and zero confidence to dive in,” she said. “A big driver for me is being an awesome role model for young girls, we need to equip them with confidence and a great work ethic. This is especially important to me now I’m having a baby – I want to prove that you can dream big, work hard and challenge the status quo.”