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Women Entrepreneurship Week offers a virtual Speaker Panel on Thursday, Sept. 24, featuring industry leaders from a variety of business disciplines. Last year's panel session, shown above, focused on the emergence of women in entrepreneurship.
The Harbert College is dedicated to actively engaging our stakeholders to provide opportunities for experiential and lifelong learning and improve business practice.
Created in 2014, Women’s Entrepreneurship Week (WEW) is a global celebration of past, current, and future women entrepreneurs that now encompasses 242 universities in 32 countries, including celebrations in virtually every state here in the U.S. Events range from small, focused professional gatherings to week-long seminars, workshops and panel discussions complete with networking, interviews, and social events – both in person and on-line.
Auburn was one of three universities in Alabama to host WEW when it first participated in October 2019. That initial celebration incorporated three events that took place over two days featuring a diverse group of entrepreneurs across a wide range of industry sectors, including technology, marketing, healthcare, retail, hospitality, education, food, childcare, and professional services.
Taking it to the Next Level
This year, Auburn is taking Women Entrepreneurship Week to a new level, with a week-long series of professional, networking, and social events held September 21-25, 2020. In light of COVID-19, this year’s sessions will be held almost entirely online, which organizers of the events Lou Bifano, Director of Entrepreneurship Strategy and Planning at Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business, and Daisy Dai, an MBA & MSIS Spring 2021 student and Entrepreneurship Center Graduate Assistant at Harbert, see as a blessing in disguise.
“One of the key objectives for this year’s celebration was to expand our reach beyond the Auburn campus, to pull in entrepreneurs, students and business partners from across the State of Alabama,” said Bifano. “That argued for an expanded virtual component to our celebration – even before COVID-19. Except for an optional face-to-face gathering for Tiger Cage – which will, of course, adhere to the strict social distancing and other health guidelines in effect here at Auburn – this year’s celebration will leverage the power of online engagement that has long been a hallmark of much of what we do here at Harbert.”
“We are overwhelmingly optimistic that we can create tremendous opportunities for women entrepreneurs – established as well as aspiring – to connect and prosper in the midst of these challenging times,” said Dai. “To continue to celebrate, inspire, and encourage women in entrepreneurship, we want to utilize our virtual environment to engage universities and community colleges in the state of Alabama as part of our state-wide entrepreneurship initiatives – especially as they pertain to women.”
Although the focus of the week is rooted in women empowerment, the overall goal and intent behind the week is to foster a diverse and inclusive atmosphere for all entrepreneurs to not only celebrate where they are, but where they are going as well, say Bifano and Dai. And the call to action behind Auburn’s Women Entrepreneurship Week isn’t directed only at women. “Our goal is to encourage both men and women to attend our events, as we truly believe we cannot celebrate women entrepreneurs without cross-gender support and collaboration,” says Bifano. “This week has been planned to attract Auburn University administration, faculty, staff, students, and alumni as well as entrepreneurs and students from surrounding institutions, organizations, and communities.”
Unprecedented Diversity and Inclusion
Three overarching objectives guide the development of this year’s WEW celebration, all tied to a common thread – expanding opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the State of Alabama spanning a wide range of industries and representing companies at various stages of development and funding.
The highlight of this year’s celebration is Thursday’s Speaker Panel hosted by the Harbert College of Business and featuring eight entrepreneurs widely diverse in race, gender, age, background, and industry served. Six of the eight panelists are women – all of whom either reside in Alabama or have roots in the state. Industries targeted by the businesses represented range from event management software and biotech to food and digital networking. See here for descriptions of their companies and brief bios.
The Auburn WEW Agenda
The full agenda for this year’s celebration can be found here, including links to all Zoom links and Google Chrome extensions needed to participate. A few highlights: