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By Joanna Rees
I have long believed in taking risks, rising to challenges, and persevering. Whether climbing the corporate ladder, starting my own venture capital firm, or most recently entering the 2011 race for Mayor of San Francisco [Editor’s note: learn more at joinjoanna.com], I have always tried to live by these convictions. Through all of these experiences, there is nothing that excites me more than working with entrepreneurs. Their passion, vision and tenacity are inspirational. Helping them build and scale their businesses led me to join the Board of Endeavor Global. Through my work with Endeavor, I have met so many High-Impact Entrepreneurs who consistently take risks, rise to challenges, and serve as role models. Through their work, commitment and passion they inspire countless other entrepreneurs.
I want to tell you the story of my friend Francesca Romana Diana, who is a great example of a High-Impact Entrepreneur. Francesca was born in Italy, traveled to Brazil and became inspired by the beautiful stones and gems found in the region. She launched her own jewelry design and manufacturing company. After fifteen years of building a successful jewelry business with her husband, Francesca lost everything when the two split. He retained the name of the company, Francesca Romana, and held all the assets. At perhaps the most difficult time in her life, Francesca, who was also a mother with a young son, courageously built a new luxury jewelry business from scratch. Since her name was taken she used her full name Francesca Romana Diana. Her talent and determination prevailed.
She is now an internationally acclaimed designer, creating beautiful, whimsical accessories out of semi-precious stones. She has boutiques in major cities in Brazil and Europe and sells her jewelry through retailers in the U.S. She is not only a very successful entrepreneur but she is a phenomenal role model, especially for women. Francesca’s determination, energy and gumption prompted me to send my daughter, Taylor, to spend a week with her to learn from such a strong female role model.
All entrepreneurs face barriers, especially females. It is even harder in emerging markets where there are numerous cultural challenges and few support systems. Networks, especially peer networks, can be one of the best resources to overcome these barriers. With more than 600 entrepreneurs in 11 emerging markets, Endeavor has an invaluable pool of entrepreneurial expertise. This kind of network can be a powerful and steady source of support, inspiration, and advice.
On June 28-30, Endeavor is holding its 2011 Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco, California. As part of its Summit, Endeavor along with Veuve Clicquot will host a Women Entrepreneur Breakfast on June 29 to bring together High-Impact female Endeavor Entrepreneurs and leading Bay Area business women. At the Women Entrepreneurship Breakfast, I will be presenting the Endeavor Entrepreneur nominees of the “Veuve Clicquot High-Impact Female Entrepreneur of the Year” Award.
In addition to celebrating these incredible women, I’m excited to bring together leading business women and entrepreneurs from the Bay Area with Endeavor Entrepreneurs from around the world. I look forward to continuing the dialogue about the barriers and challenges that female entrepreneurs face and the importance of support networks.
For more information on the Women Entrepreneur Breakfast, please contact Maggie.Krummel@endeavor.org.
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