Twin entrepreneurs Melissa Matthews and Michele Matthews-Morancie are the founders of several businesses on the island of Trinidad with a common passion for inspiring, engaging and empowering WOMENtrepreneurs. Through Agitate Media, the pair stir social change by developing and facilitating workshops and training sessions, addressing topics from strategic communications and relationship-building to board development and fundraising. Innovation and implementation are key focuses as they present concepts in new and innovative ways that are easy to understand and even easier to implement.
As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, 13-19 November, the duo developed and facilitated two workshops: Exploding Entrepreneurs: Helping Mo' Girls Become Moguls and a Breakthrough Brunch for established WOMENtrepreneurs?both with the goal of providing community growth opportunities for girls and women. We asked Michele and Melissa to provide a window into what it takes to plan, organize and facilitate such events. Here's what they shared.
One of our Breakthrough Brunch attendees encompassed everything we strive for with her statement:
"All of the things that I've dabbled in along the way have gotten me to where I am right now; this is where it all makes sense?I am walking in my purpose." ?Denyssa David, owner of Meraki Limited
That sentiment roundly and profoundly encompasses everything that Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) meant for us. As we review the week's events, we can affirm that we're working in our expressed purpose of bolstering and providing a platform of growth for communities through their women and girls. This week was a microcosm of our overall journey, and in that spirit, it was jam-packed and absolutely jelly tight: As full as necessary, but always loose enough to adjust.
Let's rewind to the start of this busy week via the journal we kept during GEW event preparations. Here's what it's like to walk a week in our shoes.
Monday, 13 November
Melissa & Michele: The deadline for registration for our Big O: Understanding Outcomes and Outputs workshop?scheduled for Friday?is tomorrow, but we don't have any registrants. If nobody signs up by tomorrow, we'll cancel it.
We're surprised by the lackluster response, as this workshop was highly requested. With so many events scheduled for this week, there might be a bit of overwhelm happening.
Tuesday, 14 November
Melissa: We have 10 registrants?50% of our goal?for the Breakthrough Brunch, where we'll empower WOMENtrepreneurs to network, share experiences and devise innovative solutions to business challenges we face. YAY! We've compiled a list of potential attendees to follow-up with.
We've canceled The Big O workshop. It's kind of a relief. Also, the lack of response due to price underscores the importance of our transition to video training. A lot of respondents were receptive to the idea of training accessible at their convenience and at a lower price point. We'll pivot and make The Big O into our very first video training.
Michele: We finally booked a venue for Sunday's Breakthrough Brunch. That's a relief because it was a barrier to registration for some guests. So?check! I emailed the venue notification, and a couple of new registrations followed immediately. We met with our event partner, Aisha of Connect the Dots, and decided to nix the third partner organization--they didn't help with planning but are ready to share any profit. Not on our watch!
Thursday, 16 November
Michele: Exhaustion is too real. We spent all day gathering materials and decor for Saturday's Exploding Entrepreneurs: Helping Mo' Girls Become Moguls youth workshop and Sunday's Breakthrough Brunch. We have a solid 15 registrations for the brunch but only two girls for Exploding Entrepreneurs, and we were hoping for 10. I'll make some calls to parents.
Friday, 17 November
Melissa, 5 a.m.: I should be preparing for the Big O workshop?it was originally our only event for the week. Then somehow, our Mo' Girls' monthly workshop launch seemed an ideal fit because it's GEW and the program is an entrepreneurship and empowerment initiative. Then, our colleague Aisha asked us to partner on an event for Sunday's Women's Entrepreneurship Day. Since we are passionate about women entrepreneurs because, well?we are them!?we said yes.
Along the way, preparation and promotion for our Big O workshop got lost in the sauce, so to speak. Mailings to past and potential attendees went cold, and cost may have deterred some. All of those factors contributed to its cancellation, especially during a week packed with events, many of which are incredibly cheap or free. My mom and granny used to say, "Cheap ting ain't good and good ting ain't cheap," but that's a story for another day.
I am grateful for the cancellation because preparation for the Women's Entrepreneurship Day event has been all-consuming. I'm also operating on little-to-no sleep. My daughter is sick, and an inconsiderate neighbor blasted loud music all night long.
I'll keep my daughter home from school today while I prepare materials for Sunday. I would not have had that option if the Big O workshop was still happening. I suppose that everything happens as it ought to.
Michele, 11 a.m.: I reached quite a few parents; these schoolgirls are booked to capacity! We have seven girls from our pilot camps registered. The young WOMENtrepreneurs that I booked to share their skills and entrepreneurial journeys with the girls are excited about the event?I predict it's going to be a win! The venue is free and the snacks are cheap; this is definitely the lower-maintenance event of our weekend.
We've been in constant contact with our partner Aisha about the Breakthrough Brunch. There have been plenty of regrets, but also many women who are excited to attend. We've endured the gamut of emotions as this event nears.
Saturday, 18 November
Melissa, 7 a.m.: I am dressed and waiting for Michele and Jason, her husband, to pick me up. Our girls' event, Exploding Entrepreneurs, starts at 10 a.m., but we'll arrive by 8:30 to set up. I'm excited about my skillshare today. I made little books for the girls; my theme is that writing good stories takes a little inspiration and a lot of imagination. Their inspiration today will be a polka-dot candy bag and the title, "The Runaway Polka-Dot." I cannot wait to see where their imaginations take them.
I've packed everything we need for both today's and tomorrow's events because as soon as we leave the Exploding Entrepreneur's venue, we'll head across town to set up for the brunch. One day soon we need to hire people for set-ups so we can focus more completely on programming and event content. However, for now we are the chief cooks and bottle washers. Hopefully, it will only take a couple of hours.
Michele, 11 a.m.: We are mid-event with the Exploding Entrepreneurs' youth event. We organized an empowering self-love cypher with the girls, ages 8 to 12, where they gather in a circle and chant positive affirmations about each individual, which is always a hit. I'm in the back of the room packing favor boxes for tomorrow's brunch as Melissa introduces our visiting WOMENtrepreneurs: a fashion stylist and a radio personality.
Melissa & Michele, 3 p.m.: The Mo' Girls Exploding Entrepreneurs workshop was great! The girls had an awesome time with all three skillshares but we definitely saved the best for last. A local radio/television/music personality engaged them in an activity to think about their strengths and weaknesses to pinpoint business opportunities in the entertainment field. And she did it all with "plain talk and bad manners" as Trinidadians say. The girls and their parents, who caught the tail end of the program at pick-up time, loved it. One awesome workshop completed!
Continue to part two of this post and find out how Michele and Melissa concluded their jam-packed Global Entrepreneurship Week!