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On the Brink with Andi Simon

Nov 2, 2020

Hear how to change the way people see each other!

I have had the pleasure of working with Jessica Weldon at Washington University in St. Louis where she is Assistant Director of Programs at the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship. My husband Andy and I created the Simon Initiative for Entrepreneurship at the Skandalaris Center to help aspiring minority and women entrepreneurs take an idea and turn it into a successful innovation and a business that can thrive. Do you have a big idea that could maybe become the next blockbuster business? Don't miss this podcast!

Women entrepreneurs not being heard

When we were discussing the challenges of women entrepreneurs, Jessica shared with me that she had observed a serious problem for women who were pitching their ideas to investors. As great as the ideas were, the women were not being heard. The investors had biases that influenced how they responded to the women presenting their ideas and seeking funding and support.

So what did she do? Design a program to help teach those investors how to listen to aspiring businesswomen in a more balanced and equitable way. Actually, her program should be taught to investors everywhere if women are ever going to grow themselves and their businesses, because it's not enough for women investors to try and find great women to invest in, like Fanta Kaba whom you will also hear from. We need men to do so, too. And we need to get rid of the implicit, outdated biases that dictate what women can or should be able to achieve.

Now is the time to change

I will put in a pitch here for a wonderful group of women’s organizations I am involved with that helps women get the support they need and also that encourages corporations of all sizes to embrace the value of women in the C-suite (and not just in HR or marketing). Check out the Women’s Business Collaborative and the nine major initiatives we are working hard to make happen, and soon.

Jessica Weldon-1About Jessica Weldon

Jessica Weldon directs programming strategy for the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis with a focus on diversity and inclusion. With a background in higher education, she earned her bachelor’s in Communication from the University of Missouri and her master’s in International Affairs from Washington University, being on campus in a variety of roles for 10+ years. She also is an advisor for Arts & Sciences students. 

Jessica is particularly adept at building relationships with students and staff, as well as managing a multitude of details while simultaneously overseeing a busy front office. In addition, she has created and implemented numerous training and orientation programs for student workers. You can learn more about Jessica on LinkedIn.

Fanta KabaAbout Fanta Kaba 

Currently a 2nd-year MBA student at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, Fanta Kaba is the founder/owner of the skincare brand Golden Roots Essentials. Fanta, also known as Dabo, launched her company in 2019 after a self-discovery trip to her parent's native country, Guinea, where she learned about the benefits of raw shea butter and the many ways her African ancestors used it to maintain the health of their skin and hair — a great example of how creative, competitive, productive women can take an insight and an idea and create their own “Blue Ocean.”

Fanta's story will inspire you. Growing up as a dark-skinned woman, she was often criticized for her skin complexion. At age nine, she was even told that if she did not bleach her skin, she would never get married. But instead of succumbing to the pressure to alter her skin, she developed a passion for self-care and skincare. She created Golden Roots Essentials to offer people not only a golden skincare routine but a golden life through self-care, skincare and culture. You can learn more about Fanta on LinkedIn and on her website.

Enjoy these stories of women who refused to listen to the naysayers and instead, saw their ideas become successful businesses

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