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Archive for the ‘Women Entrepreneurship’ Category

Panel discussion on “Perspectives of development of women’s entrepreneurship in Siberia” was held under StartupWomen project on October, 31 in Novosibirsk. Girls and women who run or have intention to start their own business participated in this event. Also along with me, Natalia Odegova, a business woman from Novosibirsk and a founder of “Remote assistants” project; and Alena Kotova, a member of the Board of Deputies of Tatarsk city of Novosibirsk Region and member of the Chamber of Deputies of NR were among the discussion participants.

Our principal thesis was as follows: in terms of women’s unemployment elimination it is more than reasonable to encourage entrepreneurial spirit  and activity of  women themselves. Moreover, if big and mid-size businesses were concentrated in the hands of men after 90-s(judging from logic of historical and economical processes), then small business may become women’s fiefdom.

And Internet  is the fastest way to: first, to learn reply promptly the users’ requests; second, be more flexible and learn from mistakes; and third, learn how not to spend millions and  have an opportunity to create a project with low financial barrier of entry.

‘Round table’ was held in a dialogue format. I spoke on Russian and worldwide practices, analysed women’s entrepreneurship in Siberia. For example, according to data of Grant Thornton company of 2008, the most of female managers in Russia are in Novosibirsk.

During the survey carried out by this company, 65% of respondents stated that three and more women are among the top-management of local companies. 385 women living in the Novosibirsk region have started their own business since 2008. Many of them may be illustrated as successful women, for example, Tatyana Sokolnikova, Chief executive of ‘Argument” company in Tomsk; Elena Polyakova, Director of  Professional development centre, author and coordinator of  regional and corporate educational projects; Anna Vibornih, chief of ‘BIS-Novosibirsk’ company;  or an acquaintance  of mine, active person an successful business lady, Natalia Ibragimova, manager of ‘SibirskayaKopeechka’ chain.

Being in Novosibirsk, we decided that all business ladies should be put in touch with each other, but how we could do that?  The answer is to carry out round tables and regular discussions. What for? We want the issues to be solved and ideas to be scaled. We often find out in our sessions that two different teams in two different cities work on the same idea, moreover, they both have similar problems. So why not to solve this problems conjointly?

Social entrepreneurship became an important topic for our panel discussion. There were many questions in the audience, like what that is and how to do this. We discussed the examples of successful social projects in Russia, such as Urtam.ru, it’s a boarding school for disabled children, where they are nurtured to be Paralympic champions. Another example, ‘Archangelsk professional rehabilitation centre for disabled’.  Also, there is a chain of recreation centres ‘Baby-life’ in Perm.

The audience was concerned by the issue of how to create a web project that could let women earn money being at home with children, and also how to help with employment of those categories of citizens who are unemployed now. Moreover, how to educate them and improve their performance, which could reduce costs of their the client companies.  Natalia Odegova, the founder of ‘Remote assistants’ project, shared her experience and spoke on solutions she offered. Natalia created her project when she was in maternity leave. The results can be already  seen.

Overall, summing up the results of the event carried out, we decided to  put on our web-site www.startupwomen.ru the schedule of meetings, panel discussions and teleconferences that are going to be carried out regularly in Novosibirsk and other cities. Our aim is to help Siberian business women with projects implementation. Among the plans of Startup Women now is designing of e-business educational program for women, they could participate in on attractive terms, and increasing of number of meetings with successful business ladies for experience interchange and issues discussion.

Women presence and activity as investors is extensively growing from year to year all around the world. There is a substancial number of well-known investement funds founded and made for women (Pipeline Fund, Criterion Ventures), as well as companies provided financial women consulting  (AWAI — Association of Women in Alternative Investing, Generator for Women) in the USA and the UK.

The Pipeline Fellowship trains women philanthropists to become angel investors through education, mentoring, and practice.  Fellows commit to invest in a woman-led for-profit social venture at the end of the training. This fund aims to diversify the investor pool and connect women social entrepreneurs with investors who get them.

International company Criterion Ventures has lauched its “search community” and women who are interested in investments are welcome to join it, after a while an appropirate project would be matched with women’s preferences and objectives and found out. Besides this service supports not only social entrepreneurship projetcs, but also perspective resources that are going to be successful investement in the future.

Those women who have already invested in such projects are integrated into Association of Women in Alternative Investing, where they share experience with each other. The expert committee consists of the most talented and professional investors with a long-term experience. I think that I that the role of Aileen Lee or  Andrea Zurek is remarkable and significant without any doubt.

What hindres Russian entrepreneurs to become active investors? One of the key reasons for that is a simple absense of knowledge. The widespread question is where am I going to invest my money — to unit fund? to stocks with return on investments? to real estate? Unfortunately by now we don’t have a functional fulfilled infrastructure for women investment education in Russia. Unlike western societies where lots of communities are organized based on these needs and challenges, we can’t do the same in Russia as there is no investment culture and moreover, no one considers women as a substancial group of potential investors.

Traditionally it is well-practiced that men are more responsible and capable to think of where to invest money. However, we’ve decided to go further and within framework of Startup Women project we’re going to develop and promote Women Investment Fund, where women could gain knowledge about ventures investments that would provide them a foundation for future opportunities to become a successful business-angel. Why do we rely on this idea? It’s typical for a woman to listen to her soul, to make choice accoring to her the sixth sense and what’s more that this intuitive decision that we usually make is the most correct and bears its fruits, leads to positive outcome in long-term period.

It’s not a surprise for anyone that a number of female users on Web are growing day by day: women are considered to be the most important audience online across the world. They make many if not most household purchase decisions and are generally more responsible for word of mouth and social network sharing than men. There is no doubt in the fact that women are more integrated in social media life than men as they’re more interested in sharing and exchanging the information with each other concerning its feelings, occasions, news, products, brands and etc. Comscore says women are the majority of users of social networking sites and spend 30% more time on these sites than men. Aileen Lee shares her vision and latest figures on presence and female users’ activities they undertake in Web.

Russian female audience is also taking over web-spaces and already exceeds male audience. According to the latest marketing research conducted by RUmetrika, a number of female users has doubled for the last two years, while the female audience of glossy-online sites has increased up to 85% for the last year, and up 11% — for the last half-year. Besides it’s also well-researched that female’s online purchasing behavior has its significant differences from male’s intentions as we use Internet in our own way and can afford to make spontaneous purchases or simply perceive online-shopping is a kind of entertainment and the most interesting online-activity.  According to the same research women are keen on buying online books, cosmetics, apparel and kid’s clothes.

A fresh version of StarLook is an updated service of online shopping community that accumulates all latest glamorous fashion trends, brands and responds to emerged women requirements and needs that they might have faced during a usual online-shopping process. As mostly women are interested in online-activities due to the possibilities it offers for communication we offer them to feel free and to be integrated into a variety of activities: starting from searching what other users or experts say about a particular apparel brand or other item to creating the content about this brand, including fashion looks for various occasions (that we call sets, video content and blog posts). Thus, such communication is an efficient tool for fashion and beauty brands to trace what was written, what kind of brand image and associations do consumers have in mind about these brands. It’s the easiest and effective approach for brands to work directly with female consumers and respond to emerging challenges or requests.

Such new approach underlies that we’ve very timely decided to transform and alter the concept and business model of Starlook.ru in order to improve the service and overcome the challenges. If earlier this project was mainly user-oriented and intended to establish a connection between professional models, photographers, stylists and brands as the last thing, a updated service represents profoundly distinctive approach – now Starlook.ru has become a brand-oriented project and that’s why we’re keep on going while other online-imitators are left behind. We can proudly say that we are first on the Russian market in the niche of social shopping, at the same time we could admit that StarLook has similar things with the largest Western shopping communities that are designed by Kaboodle and Polyvore. continue reading

As you already know, I’m concerned with women entrepreneurship and interested in its development in our country. Recently I’ve shared my views and thoughts on this topis with Moder Russian resource.

Full article devoted to Russian women in business is available here. Your opinions, ideas on what perspectives women entrepreneurship has in your or our country are welcomed.

Before I’ve come up with the final idea what exactly I’m going to write about this time, a couple of weeks ago I came across the article that was called “Female encourages Web  to grow.” That it is really so, according to the print edition “Internet in figures” 65% of web-users are women. There is no doubt that there are more women in social networks as they and we behave more active in them. And maybe that’s why among top-20 best Facebook pages, 11 of them belong to women.

Let me share with you TOP stories of female bloggers in Russian Web.

Let’s start from the best HR person in Russian Web — Alena Vladimirskaya . I’ve known Alena for a long time. She is a very smart, intelligent and hard-working person. While working for mail.ru, she was looking for employees for her company. Later she founded here own HR-agency that was promoted via social media only.

Vero4ka Polozkova is known as the most famous Russian Web poet. I remember the times when my colleagues read pieces from her poems, saying that “That girl is going to be the most popular poet in Russia.” And this turned to be true as Vera has 21 600 of web friends now. That definitely helped her to issue several books, win prestigious awards. And even I’m not fond of poetry, from time to time I like to check what is going on Vera blog, what are her thoughts today. continue reading

I was thinking a lot about how to write this post. And finally I decided to tell the world about the real people and real projects. As there is much information on modernization in theory, but only a few cases given in practice. Theoretical words and approaches in general doesn’t lead to progress unless they could lead to some changes in ourselves and in our business strategies.

I started working when I was 13, because I had always wanted to do my thing and live a full life. Most companies where I used to work, had about 60% of women among its employees. Maybe you are not aware of Russian staticts that states that there are 4 women on 1 men in our country, especially in such “historically women specializations” as accounting marketing, PR, advertising and others.

But it is always challenging for a woman to enter a business sector that isn’t conventional to her. I personally develop Gov 2.0: collect civic startups, learn about world experience and projects. It’s not a surprise for me that  in the eyes of offices I often considered as a young blondie that speaks about innovations and knows about foreign achievements in eGov field. But I won’t argue that that it much easier to work and achieve results in IT-industry.

In 2008 when the crisis happened a lot women were fired, because they carried out minor positions, f.e. it wasn’t efficient to leave 3 PR-managers for one company. That led to the fact that people, most of which were women, from different parts of Russia were not able to find a job, some of them became mothers at that time. As a result in 2010 a substantial number of women in regions with high qualifications in PR, marketing, finance and accounting were out of work.

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Today rbth.ru published  great article on how Startup-Women idea ‘s been created and ow Russian women a conquering RuNet. We have a lot of ideas that are waiting its realization and we will make it together.

Young Russian women find Internet start-ups an interesting prospect, but are they willing to face the realities of running a small business?

You can read the full article there.


       Sarah Granger — successful entrepreneur, web-innovator and author   of dozens of publications — was an invited speaker from the USA to take part in Startup Women Forum that took place in the beginning of April 2011. After the Forum she shared her impressions with local and foreign media. And now I’m sharing the story with you…

Puffed sounds of “I Left My Heart inSan Francisco” were filling the air of the conference-hall. The picture looked familiar to me: the hall was full of participants, mainly women with smartphones and designer purses, who were drinking coffee and sharing talks. It was hard to believe I was in Moscow again. Last time I had been inMoscow in 1989 when Soviet military troops had surrounded the Red Square and the lines for the bathroom tissue had been blocks length. This time I was not as a tourist in the country. I was invited as a speaker to the first innovative forum for Russian entrepreneurs – Startup Women.

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RIA Novosti published my interview about recent Startup Women Forum and women entrepreneurship movement.

RIA NovostiWomen break new ground in Russia’s internet businessWomen break new ground in Russia’s internet business

10:30 12/04/2011 “As long as men own the oil and gas, the only major resource left for women is the Internet,” ex-Russian TV anchor turned businesswoman Yelena Ishcheyeva said at the first Startup Women Forum in Moscow last week.>>

Startup Women Forum: results


After my visit to “Women 2.0” in the Valley I thought, why shouldn’t we arrange something like that in our country.  SoI talked to Maria Kosenkova : always wanted to work with her on some  joint project.  Dictum – factum. The first  Startup Women Forum was conducted in April 2011. We didn’t suppose to have a conference,  and the idea of the procedure was like that:  series of workshops at once, contest, projects selection, project development. Let’s say, a sort of a virtual incubator. However, after a while we understood that we did everything right.  There is a lack of communication in our country. I don’t mean parochial snobbish conversations, but talks on business and with people who have real stories of success.

I’m very glad that “star speakers” attended the event. It seems to me, we gathered real cases and practitioners’ pieces of advice. We’re very grateful to them. It is perfect that there was interaction with the audience. We’ve got lots of positive feedback from many people saying that the conference was very clear and practical.  That’s what we strived for.

The whole programme followed the plan, such as:  one’s brief bio, own example of a start-up, was it successful or not, and why; the project story; answering the questions of the audience. During the first session I asked who the participants were, and it turned out that many of them resigned their positions in large companies and decided to start their own business.

We were just discussing that in the country where a large proportion of the population is female and where the big business is runmostly by men, the fact that small and medium businesses are started and run by women is quite justified. Moreover, it’s more logical to do business on the Internet because of low entry barrier and project dependence on the team. And  HR is mostly for women, the percentage of intuitive decision making is high, like “to do or not to do; to trust or not to trust”.  Also one should consider the fact that the female audience of the Web is increasing. This means that end consumers often turn to be women.

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