By Andy Monshaw, IBM General Manager, Global Business Partners and Mid-Market
Small and midsize businesses are driving economic growth, and many women entrepreneurs are behind the wheel. Their dreams, fueled by entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, and instinct, are playing a significant role in guiding our financial recovery.
Standing behind them in Westchester County, N.Y., and the Lower Hudson Valley is the Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC), which nurtures those dreams through intensive training in finance, management, accounting, marketing, and even computer skills. An especially valuable service offered to the approximately 1,500 entrepreneurs it serves annually is its core 15-Week Comprehensive Entrepreneurial Training Program, during which participants learn about every aspect of running a company and write business plans.
As part of its Centennial celebration, Westchester-based IBM took the core training a step further, working with WEDC to host a June 15 speed mentoring session in which nearly 200 IBM volunteers from such disciplines as marketing, sales, finance, human resources, and IT shared their expertise, best practices, and lessons learned with more than 100 small-business owners. Each entrepreneur met with a different IBM mentor for each of three 15-minute sessions. Some of the IBMers will provide continued mentoring for 100 days, representing IBM’s 100th anniversary.
“Rendering technology to serve a transformational purpose requires forethought, creative exploration, and curiosity,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM senior vice president and group executive, Sales, Marketing, and Strategy, the keynote speaker at the speed mentoring event. “Over the years, some of the best inventions, business models, or adaptations of business models have come from small businesses. It’s the engine of new ideas for our economy and for economic growth. Curiosity and new thinking are what sets them apart.”
IBM is committed to helping local small and midsize businesses grow and innovate. For women-owned businesses, IBM offers an online SME Toolkit that provides easy, free, one-stop shopping for all the tools, resources, advice, and mentoring needed to promote success.
Hillary Rodham Clinton once said, “We need to understand that there is no formula for how women should lead their lives. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Every woman deserves the chance to realize her God-given potential.”
Especially for women in business today, IBM could not agree more.