TechJuice was in conversation with Amy Scerra – Co-founder and COO at Think Global Institute. TGI comprises of a small team who work with women entrepreneurs scaling up their businesses.The startup is on a mission to create opportunities for women business owners to expand their network and strengthen engagement in communities. The brainchild behind TGI is also a TEDx speaker, striving to empower Pakistani women business owners from the “early growth stage” to more advanced stages of growth and profitability.
Although cities do great in supporting and empowering women startup businesses, it is hard to find good support once the business is launched which is exactly why TGI was created. Amy says, “Women, in particular, face their own challenges when trying to grow their businesses.” She tells TechJuice how it was working with women in Pakistan which inspired her to ignite The Global Institute. The most common question Amy and her partner Steve Haase are asked is “Why they aren’t working with American business owners?” for obvious reasons. According to the co-founder, TGI was created to not only ensure that good businesses become great, but also to develop a global network of strong women leaders. Amy strongly believes that change will happen in this world when women have a voice and a seat at the table.
Although a new partnership, in a recent announcement at eCon14 Amy pointed out how it is working with OPEN Karachi to create a plan to support its members. TGI’s goal is to map out how TGI can be a resource for more Pakistani women entrepreneurs. “The thing that is different from growth-stage businesses is that an advisory must be custom. Every business owner has a different definition of success any individual needs.” Amy states, TGI is building institutes in a way that every “Thinker” gets one-on-one support and guidance.
TGI is already working with Pakistani women entrepreneurs. Amy’s team has worked with Maria Umar in Lahore for over 4 years. Maria runs The Digital League which is an incredible business employing virtual assistants from all over Pakistan. Amy expressed how she has had the chance of working with many others in Maria’s network, but most of them are men.
TechJuice contemplates what a great platform OPEN is, TGI and her team envision Pakistani women as the strong entrepreneurs of future who are also have the wits to understand the ability of their business to grow enabling themselves to achieve the lifestyle and level of success they desire. Amy states, “I want women to support each other. To ask – how can I help you? How can you help me?” According to her women, need mastermind groups of like-minded business owners who can feel empowered to take educated chances and those who don’t need to wait until they’re perfect to move!
Amy’s take on the role of Pakistani technopreneurs is not surprising; she explained how industries shouldn’t matter so much and it’s very important that more women are in STEM fields like tech. She also added “But again, I think they would benefit from finding mastermind groups of other women in their field.”
TGI offers a 6 month training program, if TGI’s partnership with OPEN Karachi strengthens it will allow them to conduct a training for Pakistani entrepreneurs. Amy continued telling TechJuice how she is in talks with OPEN chapters in the US to recommend Pakistani – American entrepreneurs who might be interested in participating in TGI’s training program conducted in Pakistan. She excitedly enlightens us that “Our next city is Denver, Colorado. If there are Pakistani Americans living in Denver who are interested in our program, we’d like to meet them.”
Amy expressed that she sees Pakistani women enthusiastically supporting other women business owners in Pakistan in the coming 5 years. She added saying that she has observed more opportunities are available in Pakistan, “The more women will feel empowered to take risks, grow their businesses and continue helping others start businesses. There has to be a feeling of safety and support from the community.”Amy emphasized on how government support and funding is also critical. She clarified how startup communities typically have great support and access to mentors, continued learning programs etc. but growth stage businesses need government’s support too. TGI’s program will prove to be a solution to that.
Since most businesses are in the growth stage in startups ecosystem in Pakistan, Amy is optimistic that if businesses continue to receive support from TGI and similar organizations after they start, businesses are less likely to fail. Hence, more businesses will grow with the support from programs like ours. Amy is hopeful that having in-country support from the Embassy, partners like OPEN, and the startup community is crucial for success of businesses like hers, “Here in the US, the startup community is looking for ways the businesses they help launch, can continue to receive support. Our program is the next step.”
For Pakistani business women who are young to the industry, Amy has a great piece of advice stating, “That cashflow is king. Cash flow is one of the biggest difficulties the businesses we work with experience. It’s smart to have multiple revenue channels, but keep your focus on the thing you do best. Take time out each week to work on your business, not in it.” To conclude she said that to find a group of like-minded business owners in a similar stage of growth. Whenever you come across someone like minded ask how you can help them, and let them know how they can help you. “Meet at least once a month. Keep an open mind to new solutions and doors will open if you all come to the table with a willingness to support others.”
Edited by Amna Mishal