PARAMUS, N.J. -- Gender and ethnicity don't have to be barriers to success, a diverse group of female entrepreneurs told more than 150 students and aspiring business owners during a Newark panel hosted by Berkeley College.
Berkeley College -- which has campuses in Paramus, Clifton and Woodland Park among six in New Jersey and three in New York -- sponsored “Women Entrepreneurs: Driving Success Through Diversity” on Oct. 20 as part of Women’s Entrepreneurship Week.
Participants discussed an "uneven playing field for women in business" and emphasized "the need to overcome fear and obstacles while acknowledging their often unrecognized contributions," Director of Media Ilene Greenfield said.
The panel of 10 female African-American and Latina entrepreneurs, whose industries ranged from entertainment to accounting to transportation, spoke about what women bring to the table in nontraditional fields.
“If you have been called a rebel, a revolutionary, different, a nonconformist, then you’re on the right track,” said Maria Teresa Montilla, founder and president of The Institute for Latino Studies, Research and Development, Inc., and president of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey.
Berkeley College President Michael J. Smith encouraged students in the audience to learn from the panelists’ poise and determination.
“If they did it, there is no reason you can’t do it yourselves,” he said. “The difference between failure and success is a small amount of effort.”
“There are nearly 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States today. They make 1.6 trillion dollars in revenue a year,” added Angela Harrington, Berkeley's assistant vice president of communications and external relations. "Yet getting there is tough.
"Women start their businesses with six times less capital than men. The starting point is just as important as the end point.”
Student Tammy Boxton said the panelists inspired her.
“They are women of different backgrounds and cultures. Things are stacked against them. But they’ve overcome,” she said. “They talked about staying flexible, staying focused, staying positive, believing in yourself -- because when you believe in yourself, you’re halfway there.”
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