Total loan: $5,000


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Evanston, IL, United States / Services

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A loan helped upgrade my computer hardware, software and communications equipment and implement a marketing campaign.

Diane's story

When I was growing up in a small Connecticut town, I was aware at a young age that there were far fewer career opportunities for women than there were for men. Despite the best efforts of those around to dissuade me, I set my sights high. The college setting provided me with an escape from the messages that it was still very much a man’s world. I felt comfortable pursuing Pre-Med studies even though men far outnumbered women in every classroom. As evidence of the fact that life happens while one is making other plans, I soon found myself on a new path: graduating with a degree in English Literature, entering a newly established MBA program, and beginning a career as a writer in the Marketing Department of a Chicago insurance company. Entrepreneurism took hold for me in the early 1980s, and as a fledgling woman business owner I became passionate about women's entrepreneurship and the fight for parity with men for contracting opportunities. A champion for women's economic opportunity, I believe fostering entrepreneurship for women around the world is essential for lifting developing nations out of the cycle of poverty. This passion led to my involvement with Friends of East Africa, a non-profit organization providing entrepreneurial training, coaching and mentorship to women and men in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. I have shared my expertise as a business writer and marketing communicator to help develop training manuals and materials for the FEA programs, and to help provide traditional and internet/social media marketing advice. I was key in FEA's helping a group of Kenyan women business owners build confidence through developing their elevator pitch ("lift pitch"), enabling them to better convey their story -- who they are and what they do -- to banks and other organizations that can assist in the growth of their businesses.