By Melissa Lopez
Successful and self-made female entrepreneurs came together to discuss creating their individual businesses at Cal Poly Pomona’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED).
The day-long event was hosted by CPP’s Student Innovation Idea Lab (iLab), featured 14 successful female entrepreneurs and attracted around 300 attendees.
According to Ericka Olguin, an analyst for the iLab, the drive to push and encourage women to become entrepreneurs is the reason why the event’s planning process began the day after last year’s inaugural WED.
“Last year’s event was so inspiring that we wanted to have another one before we were even given the green light,” Olguin said.
The event began with opening remarks from Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Sylvia Alva, as the high school students closely paid attention and other audience members grasped hold of every word.
As speakers and panelists began to take the stage throughout the day, a countless amount of individuals filled pages with notes they had taken down for future reference.
Kelly Cochrane, a fourth year hospitality management student, who has plans of owning her own event company, was one of the many note takers who decided to attend the event to learn how these female entrepreneurs prevailed in a male dominated world.
“There are a lot issues that I know with women in entrepreneurship, mainly all of the barriers that they have to face,” Cochrane said.
“So it’s great to listen to their stories in how they are changing the way they work to help future generations like me and how we can get past those barriers.”
A favorite of attendees was the panel featuring six successful entrepreneurs.
Christina Topacio, founder and CEO of JIG+SAW, a creative community for female creatives and entrepreneurs, had gone the nontraditional route in deciding to not attend college, but nonetheless became just as successful as the rest of the women featured on the panel.
When asked if gender was an issue in corporate America, she responded with something many in the audience nodded their heads in agreement to.
“The men were given the world and we have to fight for our space,” Topacio said.
Several women on the panel talked about their experiences working with men who treated them differently from their male counterparts simply because they were women.
Although the event was geared towards women, there were a few men scattered throughout the audience who were seeking industry advice.
Jesus Eduardo Rojas-Vasquez, a third-year political science student, who runs five businesses, was very excited to attend WED because he needed help when it came to the financial side of his businesses.
“My mom has previous experience with accounting so she manages all of our finances,” Rojas-Vasquez said.
“Right now my family and I really need to focus on the money part of my businesses, because we want more investors to come along and help us grow.”
Rojas-Vasquez and his sister went on to partake in a pitch competition along with other individuals promoting their businesses.
One of his businesses, Ash’s Sweet Delicate Delights, took third place with $400 in prize money.
California State Senator Connie Leyva was in attendance to congratulate the winners of the pitch competition and to help close the event.
Humanitarian and entrepreneur Wendy Diamond founded WED in 2014, with the mission to empower women and alleviate poverty globally.
WED is officially recognized internationally on Nov. 19 and the United Nations will be celebrating on Nov. 17 in New York City.
The iLab is located in the CLA building 98C 6-06.
Ana Perez / The Poly Post
Attendees were given chance to interact with one another during the event
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