Girl Power Takes The Stage: Conference Aims To Help Develop Women Entrepreneurs

By Kendi Anderson
Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

Christina Love says she’s prepared to enter a male-dominated career.

“It breaks the norm when women enter the tech field,” the 11th-grader at Girls Preparatory School said Saturday.

Love is an active member of her school’s computer science club and is proud that GPS hosts events for the community like Mad, Bad, and Dangerous, which celebrated young girls who are learning things she enjoys — computer coding and building computers.

GPS hosted more than 500 community members at the conference designed to validate the female voice in technology, startups and business by equipping women of all ages to become successful business and social entrepreneurs. The day was packed full of workshops and speakers, including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and the crowds could browse a marketplace of 59 vendors representing female-owned businesses.

Men were invited to attend, but the day’s focus was on empowering females.

An afternoon workshop, “Entrepreneurship 201: Securing Funding,” drew more than 100 people, many of whom frantically took notes.

Kristina Montague, managing partner at the Jump Fund, a female-led funding initiative for women in business, talked about networking, the variety of funding resources available and the importance of creating a solid business plan.

“The great thing about Chattanooga is we have so many resources,” she said. “Our fund wants to encourage diversity in business, by supporting women.”

A component specifically designed for students was the 24-Hour Generator, organized by CO.STARTERS and the Public Education Foundation. This 24-hour event brought together 23 girls from 11 schools across the city to help local businesses solve a problem.

The girls were divided into seven teams. Each team met Friday with a business that presented a problem they were experiencing, and it was the girls’ task to generate a solution. On Saturday afternoon, the teams pitched their ideas in front of an audience and panel of judges.

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