At 6:30am on a rainy morning, I gathered my camera and a cup of coffee and embarked on a journalistic adventure. This adventure for me is a monthly routine for the women I set off to meet: members of the National Association of Women Business Owners, or NAWBO. Founded in 1975 in Washington DC, NAWBO is the only dues-based organization nationwide to represent women entrepreneurs across all industries. The SF Bay Area chapter, founded in 1978, sponsors a variety of activities every month to join women together in order to collaborate, network, and ultimately expand their businesses and succeed as strong women. Since women only represent a fraction of business owners and less than 2% of Fortune 500 CEOs, this in-person communication serves as a crucial tool in order to get ahead in the male-dominated workplace.
“The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur” discusses how 56% of women entrepreneurs attributed their motivations for starting their own businesses when encouraged by other women business owners. Furthermore, Booz & Co. describes how female entrepreneurs who have business mentors who offer counseling and assistance gave their businesses significantly higher survival rates than businesses who did not have that support. With only 1.8% of women business owners raking in over $1million in revenue compared to almost 7% of men business owners, these facts illustrate why NAWBO is important for female business owners to succeed across the country.
The women I met were profoundly intelligent – each spoke with such eloquence and commanded the attention of the room with their presence. It was CLEAR these women ran their own businesses, and I was honored to photograph the event. Not to mention, every woman was extremely welcoming and eager to talk and learn from their peers. The monthly breakfast forums usually involve a keynote speaker that introduces tools for time management, leadership, communication, and goal-setting. In the photoessay above, I create a montage of the images I captured during the breakfast forum in Oakland from April 4, 2013. I want to give a special thanks to the women who gave me access to this exclusive event and with their discussion, have set a role model for me to achieve when I embark onto my career.