Key. self-awareness and pitching takeaways from our August event, written from the perspective of event attendee, Pamela Gill.Read More
With our August networking night just a few days away, we would like to introduce our YWiB community to one of our featured speakers: Niduk D’souza from Impact with Intention. Niduk has helped hundreds of nonprofits raise more money, think strategically and implement their programs effectively, and at our networking night this Thursday, she will be teaching those in attendance how to ‘Pitch Your Way to Success.’ But until then, we hope you enjoy learning more about her journey as an entrepreneur.
Everywhere I look these days I see the buzz word of our time, ‘Entrepreneur’. Across LinkedIn, social media posts, articles and incubator programs popping up around the city, the message these days remains: become an entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur myself, I find the rise of the entrepreneur era fascinating because our world struggles with disrupting the status quo. Our whole lives we are conditioned and trained to get a job and become a good employee. Attending school, tasking out classes by the hour, going onto university and developing a little more autonomy, we are still taught to ‘do’, and always with the intention to get a job and be a model citizen.
My entrepreneurial journey has always been wholly focused on building businesses with impact. Was this because I’m a woman? Perhaps. I recall attending a seminar once where a speaker mentioned this. Maybe it is the case that more women than men start social purpose businesses. Regardless, my personal values have always been rooted in supporting the most vulnerable beings on our planet. I remember when describing my business (helping NGOs, charities and social purpose businesses become more effective at what they do) to a relative who told me to go get a ‘real job’. This wasn’t the first time I was told that and to be honest, I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Ironically, while having dinner with this same relative 17 years later, they mentioned that now in their retirement they were focused on giving back. I laughed and said, “well, if you hadn’t been working in businesses that were taking in the first place, then you wouldn’t need to spend your retirement giving back”.
Aligning my values to my vision of the businesses I wanted to create has been fundamental to recognizing the type of life I want to lead. I knew right away businesses with social impact are what I value most. So it’s not a surprise that every business I have ever built or associated myself with has been tied directly to having a positive social impact. I have intentionally surrounded myself with entrepreneurs and business owners who are now lifelong friends. Learning from and building masterminds with them has helped me to grow revenue by landing 7 figure deals.
But here is what I believe my secret sauce to success has been - I’ve been very selective with whom I surround myself with. I have with intention, built myself a community of women business owners, a large number of them who also share experiences of migration, being a person of colour or who have also had to learn to live with chronic illness. There is strength and power in shared experiences and lessons. Community and adaptation is not learned in any certificate, diploma or degree program, even if they add the words culture, women, diversity and inclusion to it.
Developing clarity is one of the greatest investments an entrepreneur can make. Sadly, few do. My greatest successes as an entrepreneur have come to pass because I continually invest in sharpening my clarity on who I am in this particular season of my life and who I am serving in my businesses.
Clarity evolves, as you do. Over the years, this has led me to stop ‘pulling up a chair’ or ‘taking a seat’ at tables with people who don’t look like me, lack common experiences and the context of individuals who seek to serve the audiences I serve. So, I have built my own table.
This is entrepreneurial disruption.
In my experience, this is what we do as entrepreneurs. We build our own tables. Tables not for everyone, but specifically for those who we are looking to serve. By finding our community, building a table for purpose, we find ourselves in our most perfect niche, serving those we were always meant to.
It isn’t always easy being a South Asian woman building your own table; most tables are still surrounded by older Caucasian men and women. Some of them have read books and earned degrees that certify them as “specialists” or “experts”. Some of them are called to the table by a particular good, especially in the sector I work in. These tables often stand on legs built with institutional and colonial legacy and money, re-branded as investments, ultimately geared towards preserving and maintaining the integrity of specific ways of life cloaked in the ‘do-gooder’ complex. These were never tables designed for someone who looks like, dreams, or thinks like me.
Here is the real secret I’ve learned about tables. They are never permanent. At this point in time, we are seeing a lot of discord around the world because traditional concepts of the table are being challenged by disruptors. That is us. The entrepreneurs finding our niches to serve.
If you are interested in learning more about Niduk’s work with social entrepreneurs, visit: www.impactwithintention.com/the-entrepreneurs-table
Niduk D’souza has been a nonprofit leader and advocate for over 17 years. From working with grassroots community organizations across Africa and Asia to large donor organizations in the UK and North America, Niduk has helped hundreds of nonprofits raise more money, think strategically and implement their programs effectively. In 2006, Niduk helped to build Kenya’s first free children’s library - Nguuni Children’s Education Centre. Over a decade later, over 100,000 children have read, studied and played here.
In 2018, she launched her latest social business, Impact With Intention, an online educational platform for nonprofit leaders. Taking her years of experience teaching and practice in the field of helping nonprofits both online and in-person she has designed this educational and learning resource for small nonprofit changemakers and leaders to strengthen their capacity across 4 pillars: Governance; Fundraising & Communications; Project Management and; Monitoring & Evaluation.
Niduk has also recently joined the leadership team at UP Fundraising, where she is leading a new division focused on fundraising strategy and stewardship.
Previously, Niduk founded and ran an international development consulting practice working global across all major development focus areas. In 2018, her practice was acquired by PGM Africa. She has also served on the boards of a number of nonprofits from development charities such as The Haller Foundation, Livingstone Tanzania Trust to arts-based nonprofits such as The Red Betty Theatre.
Earning the Max Rotman Humanitarian Award, Niduk is also recognized as a community influencer for visible minorities and women by the Canadian Armed Forces.
Niduk holds a Bachelor of Arts specializing in Industrial Relations from McMaster University. She conducted a review of minimum wage policy in Ontario for the Ministry of Labour. She continued further academic work in worker’s rights, economics and law, at the London School of Economics and Political Science earning a Masters in (Economics) International Management and a Masters in Research Methodology and Statistics at Middlesex University while pursuing her doctoral research. Most recently she completed a case study on Coal Mining in Mozambique and the Leading of Nonviolent Social Movements at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She has published and presented at numerous conferences.
As part of our new strategic plan, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our very first mentorship program: SheMentors. A program tailored to meet the needs of its community of young professional women across the Greater Toronto Area.
We, as humans, are not always wired to be in growth mode. We get tired and burned out. We get often distracted by other life responsibilities piling on our shoulders. We set goals and fall short, and on top of all this, due to socially and politically constructed beliefs, we as women continue to face barriers to our personal and professional growth.
This is why we’re launching our first mentorship program, to help YOU, our community to re-focus, and continue down the path towards a growth mindset.
SheMentors is a 6-month mentorship program tailored to meet the needs of YWiB Toronto community members including the Newcomer; the Entrepreneur, and the Seeker.
Our aim is to provide every young woman with an inclusive opportunity to leverage their professional and personal growth through mentorship, and also to provide other well-established women with the opportunity to give back to the community through knowledge-sharing and mentorship.
We believe that once each one of us finds a mentor experienced in the areas we are truly passionate about, those growth moments will present themselves, and success will be inevitable!
Learn more about this program here.
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Caitlin is an ambitious young woman making a name for herself in the heart of Toronto. With a degree in International Development, experience in the financial sector and a network that spans industries, Caitlin is showing no signs of slowing down. During her spare time, you will find her running along the lakeshore, co-chairing this year’s Boobyball event in support of Rethink Breast Cancer or attending whatever hockey, basketball or baseball game is on the docket. Describe who you're working for and why it's important to you.
I current work in product management within the retail industry. I work in an environment where things move fast. It's important to me because no day is the same - there is always a new issue to address or a different way to launch a campaign so I am constantly learning.
How does your role empower you?
My role is driven by results so having ownership of a project from beginning to end is empowering. Building relationships, monitoring sales and data analysis all attribute to my success, so I get out of it what I put into it. It’s empowering to see the importance of my role within the bigger picture and to know my contribution is valuable.
What advice do you have to other young women looking to get involved in your field of work?
No matter what field of work you are in or are interested in, the best thing you can do is to put yourself out there. Start by networking, registering for courses and joining a professional association. Through this process, you will learn what you like to do, the type of environment you want to work in and what you’re passionate about. There is always something to learn and someone to meet who will teach you something new. It’s funny how you can fall into a role if you’re open to anything.
If you are looking to get into Marketing specifically, I suggest taking courses through Canadian Marketing Association, keep abreast of industry trends, and always ensure your resume is current.
Who is your biggest role model, why?
I wouldn’t say I have a specific role model but I do draw from a few strong women. Michelle Obama, Victoria Beckham, and Sheryl Sandburg all display qualities and characteristics that I admire and strive to embody. Although these three woman are very different, they have created a positive impact, built an empire and achieved success on their own terms. Achieving success without compromise isn’t easy but these women have done it with grace and tact.
What book do you recommend every young professional should read?
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Although it’s not your typical “professional” read, it has lessons that can make you an overall better person and therefore a better professional. The book explores how important it is to let the opinions of others go, lean into a given situation and accept that it is okay to be vulnerable. We all have a fear of failure and inadequacy and this book discusses different ways to acknowledge those fears as normal and how you can work through those feelings in order to achieve success.
After reading this book, I created a short list of people whose opinion matters to me and treat everything else as background noise. Daring Greatly is a great tool to get through tough situations you may encounter.
If you could go back to your 16 year old self, what would you say?
Nothing is going to go according to plan but that’s okay! As long as you have a goal, it doesn’t matter how you get there.
Why do you think groups like YWiB are important?
Groups like YWIB are important because it is a network of likeminded individuals who are providing a positive source for growth. Any time you can connect with people that have ideas and stories to share, you should capitalize on that. The moment you think there’s nothing left to learn or no way to grow, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
What can our readers do to help you?
You can all purchase tickets to this year’s Boobyball event in support of Rethink Breast Cancer. Tickets go on sale this summer and the event will be in October. As co-chair of the event, I would love to see you all there!