Chagrin Falls entrepreneur creates Women’s Entrepreneurship Day worldwide

November 19, 2018

Chagrin Falls entrepreneur creates Women’s Entrepreneurship Day worldwide

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Today, 144 countries will celebrate Women’s Entrepreneurship Day — a global movement aimed at empowering women to start their own businesses and rise above poverty.

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Day organization this year has sent 500 Syrian refugee girls to high school in Jordan, educated 1,000 women on financial literacy in the Philippines and awarded 500 micro-loans to women in New York City.

And it was all begun by Wendy Diamond, a Chagrin Falls native.

Diamond’s concept crystallized on a 2013 trip to Honduras, when she took an impromptu two-hour road trip to volunteer with the Adelante Foundation, a nonprofit that uses microfinance to help women achieve economic self-sufficiency via entrepreneurship.

“I was able to see firsthand what microloans were doing to better the whole community,” Diamond said in a phone interview with cleveland.com.

Diamond was particularly inspired by a 72-year-old woman who was raising her three grandchildren. A $100 microloan had enabled her to open a pulperia inside her home, selling Cokes and toothpaste, that allowed her to send her grandkids to school.

“I fell in love with the program, so much so that when I came back to New York I decided to create a movement to help alleviate poverty,” says Diamond.

Diamond lobbied New York City mayor Bill de Blasio to proclaim Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. Held on November 19, 2014, the first event convened at the United Nations and was streamed to over 100 countries.

“I felt that if everyone in the world knew how important it was to empower women in business, it could truly change the world for better,” she said. “If we created a [designated] day throughout the world, everyone would talk about it.”

Diamond is certainly no stranger to creating buzz—she got plenty of practice as the founder of Animal Fair, the first magazine to promote animal rescue and welfare through a pop culture lens. Dubbed “Martha Stewart of the Milk Bone Dish” by The New Yorker, Diamond recruited celebrities like Renee Zellweger, Beyonce, Kristen Bell and Jessica Alba to promote the cause within its pages, and she herself became a regular fixture on the Today Show and media circuit.

Now Diamond devotes her time to leading Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, which held its fifth annual summit at the United Nations on Friday. Speakers included Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman, fashion designer Anna Sui and GLAMGLOW co-founder Shanna Dellimore, and the event raised more than $200,000 to create microloans for 2,000 women around the world.

Thanks to a robust network of volunteer ambassadors, satellite events also are taking place in Chile, El Salvador, Germany, Croatia, Colombia, Costa Rica and —for the first time ever — in Cleveland.

The event on Monday at Case Western Reserve University was hosted by Prosper for Purpose and featured speakers, roundtable discussions and the inaugural Cleveland Pioneers awards ceremony.

“Throughout history, women [in business] have been underfunded,” she said. “If we approach that issue from a ground-up approach—not top-down—we can change the world.”

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