For much of history, a commonly used tactic to regulate women’s power has been to isolate them, particularly from other women. Today, the true potential of what women can accomplish when they combine forces is still being unlocked — but the power of that potential was fully on display at the 2018 Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) Summit, held in Toronto.
Bringing together more than 200 female entrepreneurs from across the globe, the DWEN Summit united women business leaders for two days of collaboration, thought leadership and networking. With more than 16 countries and 25 industries represented, the impact of the summit — much like the makeup of its participants— was designed to be global, as Sallie Krawcheck, the CEO and Co-founder of Ellevest, attested to.
“Female entrepreneurialism is where it’s at these days,” Krawcheck said. “When women start businesses, their returns not only tend to be better than the guys’ — it also helps the economy, it helps society, and it helps communities.”
Part of the value of an event like the DWEN Summit, she continued, is that it allows women to connect with the people who will become their next best champions: other equally passionate women business leaders.
“Your next business opportunity is much more likely to come from a loose connection — someone you meet here — than it is from your best friend,” Krawcheck said, emphasizing the summit’s diversity of thought and experiences. “That’s because you and your best friend know the same things.”
For Meggie Palmer, the founder and CEO of PepTalkHer, the connections she made at the DWEN Summit proved to have a tangible and what she called “transformative” impact on her professional potential, specifically on a couple of key business points.
“I’m in the process of selling my media training business, Sliding Door Media, so I was interested to understand that process better,” Palmer explained. “I’m also growing a new business... so I wanted to better understand the challenges women face in negotiating for themselves and their businesses.”
At the summit, Palmer found all of that and more. Most “invaluable” of all, she said, were the connections she made with other female business leaders who had been in her same position, and who were able to offer advice that was “raw and vulnerable.” The end result? A strengthened approach to selling her first business and growing her current one, as well as a new network of advisors to access.
“Attending DWEN has fundamentally changed the way I am planning our next three years for PepTalkHer and how we will expand from a corporate training company into a tech platform,” she said. “I’m more focused on our numbers now and am also better prepared for long term strategy planning.”
Mariana Freitas, the founder and CEO of Sirius App, echoed the impact attending the 2018 summit has had on her as an entrepreneur, adding that it’s the opportunity for cross-border collaboration that makes DWEN a uniquely effective event.
“DWEN is a source of inspiration and support that connects and empowers women across the world to do business, make connections, and build solid friendships,” Freitas said. “We had the opportunity to talk about economic, social, and environmental issues as well as business ones. Learning about other cultures’ issues and solutions, and getting to exchange experiences, was inspiring.”
Ultimately, carving such a rare space for female business leaders to find common ground on a global scale is, as Palmer put it, what makes the DWEN Summit an event the world — and especially its women — need.
“I think creating a space where women can come together and be vulnerable and supportive of the ups and downs of business life is key to why the DWEN Summit is so transformative,” she said.
The next DWEN Summit will be held in Singapore on July 14-16, 2019. To learn more about the summit, and to see if you qualify to attend, please see Dell’s resource page for women entrepreneurship.