Are you called a Dreamer, Disruptor or Daredevil? Were you identified as "Thinking out of the Box" or "Chatterbox" at home or in school? If you answered YES to any of these labels then you would be the ideal participant for my presentation in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday 23 September on "How Women and Youth Can Succeed in the Digital Economy and Prosper Social Enterprises".

Article by SISWP President Anusha Santhirasthipam

Thanks to the Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (the oldest chamber of commerce in Malaysia at 90 years strong), I had this golden opportunity to meet and converse with so many passionate, purposeful and innovative women entrepreneurs keen to know how to adapt their businesses to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how to leverage upon Digital based business and career opportunities.

I was invited to speak in my work capacity as President & CEO of Buddi Tree Ltd. This proved to be a great opportunity to also promote Soroptimist work with these women entrepreneurs who are interested in developing social enterprise partnerships and capacity building programmes that involve Soroptimist club projects and Soroptimist advocacy campaigns.

Within 4 hours, we did our best to transform mindsets and tackle current issues, perceived barriers and challenges women face as business and professional women in the digital era.

I shared success secrets and strategies from world famous iconic disruptive innovators who started small in their garage or homes and grew exponentially into sustainable and highly profitable businesses.

I explained the changing paradigm of stakeholder relationships, the need to be inclusive and master active realtime communications and to be able to resonate with societal needs as keys to survival and prosperity. That marketing drives innovation and technological advances in business and not engineers and inventors. That's the reality check!

That women have natural instincts, are intuitive, great at multi-tasking and have enormous strengths in relationship management and inter-personal skills. This gives women immense power and influence to conquer new market segments and open up new business territories using their strengths, ICT tools and communication technology. In the digital age, women and young people have a level playing field to overcome "the old boys club" and patriarchal business systems built on patronage and old money.

I also introduced the concept of social enterprises where women are natural leaders and have the competitive edge as caring compassionate and ethical citizens who want to genuinely solve social issues, economic inequalities and environment problems using their enterprising mindset and spirit of giving.

Many of these women entrepreneur were keen to know more about Soroptimist International and how they can collaborate with Soroptimist clubs to run social enterprises to educate, empower and enable single mothers, refugee communities, women and children with disabilities, provide skills training and economic support to urban poor living in slum areas and also vulnerable and marginalised rural women who will be able to make products for sale with marketing and public awareness or advocacy campaigns by Soroptimist clubs.

I emphasised that any woman entrepreneur or Soroptimist club who wishes to start a social enterprise must have a strong cause that is time sensitive with powerful compelling story and convincing data to back the need. To succeed, social enterprises need business mentoring, creative fundraising events with strong visible branding and publicity, attract and maintain Angel investor or donor relationships, have access to continuing enterprise development programmes especially in digital marketing and brand building. All this was discussed during the Coffee Table Q&A session.

We had a very enthusiastic, engaged and receptive crowd of women from a wide diversity of businesses and some who travelled from other states.

My fellow iconic co-speaker, Datuk Suseela Menon was the perfect complement to speak after my presentation. She captured and transformed the crowd with her charisma, wisdom of experience and "school of hard knocks" as a woman who broke the glass ceiling and triumphed over life's harshest challenges as a single mother who juggled child-raising with her powerful and demanding corporate job and a stellar singing career during her youth in Malaysia's roller-coaster entertainment industry. How to build self-esteem and triumph in a "man's world".

At the time of writing this article, I have been approached by several Soroptimist clubs in SISWP member countries to run a similar workshop on Prospering Women in the Digital Economy and Social Enterprises by Soroptimist Clubs.

I am happy to organise such events in conjunction with my visits to our member countries over the next few months and during 2019. Best done to coincide with Country Annual Conferences or Region Meetings to coincide with new club charters.

#educatetolead #inspiringwomen
#interclubskillsexchange
#digitaleconomy #socialenterprise #disruptor #innovator #empower

In the Spirit of Soroptimist Service

Anusha Santhirasthipam
Federation President
Soroptimist International of the South West Pacific