International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The WIN Lab sat down with WIN Lab alumna Prabha Dublish, Founder of Womentum to learn more about how the online nonprofit platform allows anyone to invest in global women entrepreneurs living in poverty.
Q. Where did you get the inspiration to start Womentum?
After my first year at Babson, I was curious to see the impact of entrepreneurship in developing countries. I decided to travel to India to meet with rural women entrepreneurs on the outskirts Delhi, where I was born. Through that experience, I quickly realized that entrepreneurship is a powerful driver of change but getting to the point of entrepreneurship is difficult. Many of the women couldn’t get a loan from a bank because they didn’t read or write and lacked any steady source of income. Additionally, these women’s communities were very unsupportive of their entrepreneurial tendencies, because of deeply entrenched gender roles in the culture. Upon reflection, I knew there was something that I had to do and that’s what inspired Womentum.
Womentum is a pay it forward nonprofit crowdfunding platform that allows anyone in the world to donate to women entrepreneurs in developing countries. Our unique model means that all funds raised on our platform are a donation and when the women become successful, they pay it forward to support other women in their community. We are not just a funding source but are building communities of women supporting women.
Q. Why is the pay it forward model so important to you and the team?
The pay it forward model is the foundation of Womentum. It was a model I witnessed being implemented by the women I visited outside of Delhi, albeit on a smaller, more local scale. The women in the villages were all extremely willing to support other women. Those who have a micro business knew the transformative impact being an entrepreneur had on them, and they wanted other women to reap the same benefits as well. From a personal level, I think that a pay it forward model helps connect the world. In a time where it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the negatives, this model shows the inherent good that people have.
Q. How much impact have you had to date?
Womentum has changed the lives of 45 women entrepreneurs in 7 different countries, raising over $35,000 in capital. We also engaged with six various corporate sponsors to share our missing for empowering women around the world.
Q. How has the organization evolved?
The only thing that is constant is change. Womentum has evolved from being a platform with one entrepreneurs and only three co-founders to funding over 40 women and a team of five. We started off believing that our pay it forward model would be purely financial but it’s been incredible to see the additional elements the women give like mentorship. We also have actively sought out new partnerships like corporate partnerships which was never part of our original plan. I think being able to identify opportunities and fail fast has helped us evolve over time.
Q. Who are your role models and why?
I look up to Sheryl Sandberg who has founded Lean In along with being COO of Facebook. The reason is that Sheryl was able to talk about the issues that women in the professional world face long before many of these prevalent social media movements. Her openness made me feel like I wasn’t alone with many struggles I was facing. She was incredibly vulnerable and honest about her husband passing and has inspired many women around the world.
Q. Is there a quote that you embody and try to live by? Or Is there a mantra that you embody and try to live by?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has” by Margaret Mead embodies my belief that while you may be starting small, you have the power to change the world always.
Q. How can people help support Womentum and the women entrepreneurs that it serves?
One way is to become evangelists for Womentum and our critical mission of empowering women entrepreneurs around the world. Whether it is buying products or providing support to female founders, there are multiple ways to become a champion for the work we do at Womentum in your everyday lives.
Another way is to donate on our platform to an entrepreneur in need of your help. Throughout vetting process and our commitment that 100% of funds reach the women entrepreneurs, you will have a positive impact in the life of a women entrepreneurs across the world.