Planning a Women Founders Conference

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch


How about planning a Women Founders Conference?  We could start locally, in one or two countries that are interested, then use a well tested format as the idea spreads around the world.  Any responses?

Sallie Gratch   email:

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Angel of Kathmandu

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

Kathmandu, Nepal, January 16:

Question: when do you know a woman trusts you?
Answer: when, in a public toilet, she asks you to watch her purse while she goes into the toilet stall.

This is what happened in the Kathmandu airport. I walked into the women’s toilet to be confronted with a familiar stench and a row of urinals. Spotting several enclosed toilet stalls, and refusing to leave, I dismissed the urinals and started to head for a stall when a lively woman walked in and exclaimed, “what are those urinals doing here?” We laughed about it, the stench, and our shared intent to ignore the possibility we may be in the men’s room.

We quickly forgot the primary reason we both had entered the women’s toilet, and began to ask questions of each other. Before long, she knew about Women Founders Collective, about our travels, in particular, our search for women founders in Kathmandu. Betsy soon joined us, and within moments, the three of us had decided that our new friend would host our WFC Kathmandu meeting at her house.

You won’t be surprised to know that this woman’s name is Angela, truly our angel here in Kathmandu! She has kept close tabs with us during our stay, offering to take us to our hotel from the airport, inviting us to her home for dinner, planning an outing to view the Himalayas from a hilltop…and the list goes on and on.

The women we have been meeting on our travels are very much like Angela, eager to assist us, to share their lives with us, to welcome us into their work, to learn about WFC. Rekha Mody, our host in Kolkata and the reason for our being here, has orchestrated our movements within India and Nepal. Although originally planning to be with us throughout our travels, Rekha is heading to Los Angeles where she will be working on an exhibition to mark India’s 60th anniversary, their independence from the British. The exhibit opens in August, 2007.

So Betsy and I are on our own now. Equipped with Rekha’s network, names and phone numbers of women in both Kathmandu and Delhi (with a side trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal), and with the prospects of meeting more Angela’s along the way, Betsy and I are in good hands!

And yes, Angela did ask me to watch her purse when she walked into the toilet stall!

To be continued. Sallie January 16, 2007


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WFC’s Nepal Tour Covered in VOW Magazine

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

WFC’s recent tour to Nepal was covered in VOW Magazine.  You can download a PDF version.

You can also learn more about VOW Magazine here.


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A message from Rekha Mody, India host: January 14, 2007

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

Sallie and Betsy in India Women Founders Collective “I was the first to touch the tree of knowledge first to bite the red apple… I was first to distinguish between modesty and immodesty… I was the first to break the golden shackles of luxurious pleasure. I was the first rebel banished from paradise, exiled. I learned that human life was greater than paradise. I was first to know.” Kabita Sinha

Beginning January 2007, two American ladies have ventured out of America to understand the women’s movement in India and Nepal. Stree Shakti The Parallel Force has volunteered to connect them to many women founders in these two countries. Stree Shakti is a networking movement, a collective voice of women seeking justice and equality. Stree Shakti is working for the cause of women’s upliftment and awakening, but it does not have a feminist bias. On the contrary, this organization is giving a new orientation to women power for fulfillment in life, not only for itself but also for those who come into the sphere of its influence. This organization is not working for woman as a power, but for the power, which emanates from her and sustains all human life. When we conceive of Shakti in an Indian cultural context, Shakti is capacity rather than power. She is a source of energy to man. Man can function only when his capacity is activated. No male god in the Hindu Pantheon functions without being activated by the female energy. In other words, it is concept of complimentarity between man and woman rather than that of equality. Egalitarianism has led to undesirable conflicts. Complementarities are the principle in consonance with the corresponding modern theory in physics. The entire Cosmos functions in harmony and harmony alone. The Indian way of living has been based on harmony, not only between man and woman, but also between men, women and nature. To elaborate; one harmony leads to another and brings happiness to all.’ The trip is divided in three phases , Kolkata , Kathmandu and New Delhi. I took on the host responsibility of their trip in Kolkata. They attended the Annual Stree Shakti Awards, Sallie as a special guest explained the importance of women founders network . One day was dedicated to field visit where they visited projects of Divya Chaya Trust a member of Stree Shakti network which I founded in 1984. . They met up Women founders at a tea hosted by Neeru Poddar co founder of DCt , the group was diverse with women working in field of women empowerment, children with disabilities and mentally challenged children. Sallie and Besty also met women founders in private interview working in theater, writers and political issues. In total they met 11 women founders. Second phase of their trip in Nepal women founder Indra Shreshtha will link them up with other founders . In Delhi Kamal Chugh is hosting a tea on 22 January to introduce them to women founders and Kiran Modi is networking to make it a success. All three are powerful women founders, and I am sure they will make it a success. I will meet Betsy and Sallie on 27 January in Delhi and we will review the connections they have made. There is one mission to which I am dedicated is to establish a women’s Centre in India so that the networking may happen naturally and not be linked to individual or organizational initiative. I would request any one who shares my vision to contact me . “If only the women of the world would come together they could display such heroic non-violence as to kick away the atom bomb like a mere ball.” M.K. Gandhi Rekha Mody Founder Stree Shakti The Parallel Force

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WFC India Diary: London meeting, January 8, 2007

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

With a 12 hour lay-over in London Heathrow Airport, Betsy Chandler and I rushed into town to attend a WFC luncheon meeting. The idea of making good use of those 12 hours was suggested by Rekha Modi, our host in India. And, tapping into the remarkable network of Zerbanoo Gifford, Rekha’s and my mutual friend, Dorothy Dalton was asked to organize the details of the meeting at an Accounting Firm in London’s Financial District. (Thank you again Dorothy!)

All the details were taken care of. However, I was still concerned how WFC would be received, whether the invited guests would welcome an idea imported to London by someone totally unfamiliar to them. Added to my discomfort was the unexpected London traffic we encountered riding the underground, causing us to arrive at the meeting 30 minutes late. However, walking into a brightly lit conference room, we were greeted by 12 smiling faces, a room filled with women enjoying both the sandwiches and each other’s company.

We started the introductions almost immediately; I added my one request to include in their narrative a brief sketch of their nonprofit as well as a reflection on some aspect, a high or a low, of each woman’s founder journey. The energy in the room mounted as the women’s sharing began; women pulled in closer to one another, sitting forward in their chairs. Lively interaction among the women, reflecting on specifics issues raised began to flow. One young woman, originally from Dominica, now living in London, expressed her belief that nothing happens “just by chance”, that everything is purposeful. She used her coming to this meeting as her example, that she hadn’t planned to come, but that her colleague encouraged her to. She went on to discuss her reluctance, up until minutes ago, to begin her own nonprofit. However, with the encouragement she had received from this group, and the women’s promised support, she now wanted to announce that her nonprofit will be launched, thanks to what had happened at this meeting. Applause followed.

Our two hours together passed very quickly. Names and emails were shared. A group photo was taken. (To be posted on the WFC website.) I encouraged the women to become familiar with our, now their website, to use it to reach out to one another as well as to connect with women founders in far distant places. I especially asked them to add their comments about this meeting to my London meeting blog, a great way for anyone who visits this site to meet these fantastic women!

Our London meeting demonstrated once again the appeal of WFC, the powerful attraction it has as a support network to women founders and the ease with which a WFC group can move ahead (if so desired) on their own. That’s empowerment!

Saying our goodbyes, Betsy and I shifted back to Heathrow Airport to begin our second night of air travel, to land in Delhi for one more late evening flight to Kolkata (Calcutta) and finally, on January 9, to arrive at the home of our India host, Rekha Mody. To be continued. Sallie Posted: January 11, 2007

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Award for Lily Thapa, founder of Women for Human Rights, Kathmandu, Nepal

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

Reported from Lily Thapa’s office in Kathmandu, Nepal:

On March 9, 2007 the Boss Magazine conferred the 3rd Boss Top ten Business Excellence Awards. Ashoka Fellow Lily Thapa working for  empowerment of single women (widows) won the Best Social Entrepreneur Award.

The Boss is a magazine that  seeks to promote an environment conducive to business excellence through information. the boss also is a forum that celebrates the spirit of entrepreneurship in Nepal. In 2005 they added a new category Best Social Entrepreneur amongst the other 9 categories which is a tribute to the spirit of entrepreneurship and Business Excellence in Nepal.The Boss which originally featured only business icons have now started to feature social entrepreneurs , many of them Ashoka Fellows, because of the close association Ashoka has had with Boss.

Comment from WFC:  Congratulations Lily!  (Sallie Gratch and Betsy Chandler met with women founders in Lily’s office during their travels to Nepal in January, 2007.)

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WFC visits Botswana, Namibia and Uganda, March/April 2008

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

WFC met with women founders in Gaborone, Botswana, Windhoek, Namibia and Kampala, Uganda mid-March and early April.  These meetings brought together more than 60 women founders from these Africa nations, to brainstorm how we can all work and learn together as women founders.   Keep your eyes on this website to learn more about these meetings, and to meet some of the women founders who were part of the experience.

WFC is grateful to the following women who organized these meetings in their countries:

In Gaborone, Botswana, Charlotte Botho Ntswaneng
In Windhoek, Namibia:  Ottilie Abrahams
In Kampala, Uganda:  Mary Ssonko

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Adhikaar wins Union Square Award: submitted by co-founder Luna Ranjit

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

Adhikaar Co-founders among the Recipients of the 2008 Union Square Awards

Woodside, NY: On Saturday, December 6, 2008, Adhikaar joined six other social justice organizations to receive the 2008 Union Square Awards, and became the first Nepali group to receive this prestigious award. The Union Square Awards is a framed photograph of the steps of the Supreme Court which was taken by the anonymous donor who established the award, and comes with a $50,000 grant.

Established in 2005 by four young immigrant women (Luna Ranjit, Rashmi Shrestha, Srijana Sthrestha, and Tafadzwa Pasipanodya), Adhikaar is the first women-led organization promoting human rights and social justice in Nepali-speaking immigrant communities in New York. We facilitate access to information and resources on immigration, health, workers’ rights, and women’s rights; organize against social injustices and human rights abuses; and conduct policy research and advocacy. Our community center in Woodside serves as a safe space for Nepali New Yorkers, especially for low-income women and youth, and there has been an increase in Nepali faces at social justice circles. Adhikaar also successfully changed the face of leadership within Nepali community by promoting women and youth leaders.

Fifteen representatives of Adhikaar, including three of the co-founders, board members, staff, youth and adult members, and volunteers, attended the ceremony at the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan. The ceremony opened and closed with performances by two of the ten Union Square Art Award winners –Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and Urban Word.

The Union Square Awards program was created to recognize and encourage initiative in serving New York City communities. The award was established by an anonymous donor to honor New Yorkers who have taken action to improve people’s lives and advocate for social change, and is named after the park on 14th Street where New Yorkers have organized and spoken out about major social issues since the nineteenth century.

The Union Square Awards is a project of the Tides Center whose mission is to actively promote change toward a healthy society – one founded on principles of social justice, equal economic opportunity, a robust democratic process, and environmental sustainability.

Adhikaar’s work is made possible by generous contributions from the New York Foundation, North Star Fund, Fund for New Citizens, New York Women’s Foundation, South Asian American Leading Together, and many individual donors and local businesses, as well as hundreds of hours of pro-bono work by our dedicated volunteers.

For more information, please contact us at or 718-937-1117, or visit us online at:

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Sallie Gratch

25th February, 2009 - Posted by salliegratch

sallie-gratchTough Time in the Life of a Founder

by Sallie Gratch Founder Women Founders Collective

Six weeks ago, I was faced with a task that far exceeded my experience and knowledge: switching the domain registration of Women Founders Collective (WFC) from one registrar to another.

Sound simple? It should have been. It was not. While I had web technical support, I understood that the task was too time consuming for WFC’s web techie. The problem was mine to track down who held WFC’s domain registration and then to transfer the domain to another registrar.

For the next three weeks, I learned how to tolerate “holding” on the telephone for up to 45 minutes until technical support took my call. I also learned to challenge technical support, always trying to move ahead, rather than end up where I started 45 minutes earlier. Sadly, what often felt like a step forward too often ended with the opening question still unanswered.

As my search continued, my spirits began to drop. Seeing a couple leisurely walking down the street, enjoying each other and their surroundings didn’t help. It felt as if my obsession with this task had removed the quality from my life. Was all this intensity worth it?

The time arrived for me to feel sorry for myself. And feeling sorry for myself helped me get back on track, to remember why I founded WFC in the first place: to support women founders globally so they would no longer feel alone.

I felt alone and frustrated until I thought of all the women founders I have met through WFC, women who share the same frustrations and despair, who keep at their work, no matter how many obstacles they encounter, because they believe in their cause.

I wouldn’t abandon WFC. In fact, I now understand, it is WFC that adds quality to my life.

And yes, I did resolve the issue of WFC’s domain registration. I felt as if I had accomplished the greatest feat in the world.

And, in fact, I had!

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