Perhaps even more than money and power, a sure sign of success is being in a position to be a great mentor.
This philosophy of paying it forward is what drives Aline Murta, Macia Batista and Joannie Diaz, college friends and co-founders of Be Moxie -- a new platform aimed at helping young women, especially first-generation immigrants and women of color, achieve their personal and career goals.
The site launched at the end of January with help from a campaign on GoFundMe.com, raising $1,670. Batista says that the idea grew from everyday conversations they had with one another about their professional concerns and wanting to give back on a larger scale, having seen what was possible with their individual mentees.
"We don't have really similar careers, but we have a similar vision for our lives and that's what drove us to work together," says Diaz. Batista works for the business school at Pace University and Murta and Diaz work in finance.
What they also have in common is a shared identification as first-generation Latina women: Murta's family comes from Brazil, Diaz's from Peru and Batista's from the Dominican Republic.
Their mission comes at a time when women of color are better represented among the entrepreneur community than ever. Of the 8.6 million women-owned businesses operating in the U.S. in 2013, 31 percent of them were owned by women of color, according to a report commissioned by American Express OPEN. That number has climbed from 1997, when just 17 percent of women-owned firms were owned by women of color.
At BeMoxie, readers can find personal essays, tips about networking, negotiating and building a power wardrobe, and blog posts highlighting world events and global leaders like PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o.
All the writers and contributors are volunteers. "Initially it was just us reaching out to peers and friends; we met such amazing women through workshops and networking events that we attended. Everyone [we told] was so supportive and excited to help," says Murta.
The blog is only phase one. The founders' ultimate goal is to not only build a vibrant community offline but to collaborate with other organizations like with similar visions. They cite Levo League and collaborator Worldwide Boss as groups that inspire them.
The trio is also working to create classes aimed at high school and college students about topics such as choosing majors and nailing job interviews. They hope to host several events this summer, including one that gives young women access to professional headshots for their social media profiles.
"We saw a void in the representation of professional women of color," says Batista. And once that came into focus, they felt a responsibility to their audience because "we were once in their shoes."
Diaz says of their distinctive name, "we want women to have moxie…which means being fearless, facing difficulty with spirit and courage and being bold and determined…we want this to be a lifestyle change, being a woman that isn’t afraid and has the resources at hand to succeed."
So how do these young professionals balance full time work and their passion project? They say organization, deadlines and communication are key. They swear by a comprehensive 30-60-90 day plan and make sure to play to their strengths, whether it's technical upkeep of the website, marketing or social media. They also check in each week about the work at hand, but they all agree: the most important things is that they are friends first.
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