Editor’s Note, from Elizabeth:
One hard thing about being a journalist is letting a story go.
Over the years, many people have shared their stories with me. I’ve written them, filed them, and then moved on. That’s the job. But it feels inhuman at times, especially when I’ve reported on poverty, conflict and violence. Back in 2015, I interviewed a woman by phone for a story in Forbes. She was an amazing lady: She had organized a collective of women to sell Aleppo soap, taking it out of the country by a dangerous road to a market in Beirut.
My Forbes editors frowned at my propensity to write about businesses that didn’t fit the high-tech, fast-growth mode, so I stuck the word “entrepreneur” in the headline. And then, thank God, Women to Women International picked up the story and it got a lot of traffic, and sent many sales to the Ghar Collective.
More than a million people fled the Syrian Civil War that year. Remember the heartbreaking photo of Alan Kurdi, the toddler who drowned as his family tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea? A particularly cynical woman I knew saw the photo and said something like, “how quickly we will forget.” She was right, of course. Headlines fade, and it’s not only journalists who move on.
But I fight that kind of cynicism because if it turns to bitterness – well, bitterness is a soul-killing weed. “I won’t forget,” I told the cynic defiantly.
Every year, I went back to Jihan to see how she was doing and how the Ghar Collective was faring. Some years, I wrote full-fledged followups; some years, I updated the stories with notes or social media posts. In 2019, I went to Istanbul to see her. Business-wise, it wasn’t a great success. After the first few years, the orders for the magnificent soap shrank to a trickle, despite the steady support of journalist Hala Droubie and Lina Sergie Attar, the founder of the Karam Foundation. If I’d known then what I know now, I think we would have helped Jihan into an accelerator for entrepreneurs.
When I met Jihan two years ago, she was as gracious, powerful and dignified in person as I expected. I recruited the assistant manager of my hotel to drive me to a suburb a few hours from the city, and she welcomed both of us to dinner. I bought lots of soap – I buy it every year for Christmas gifts. I met her son, who hopes to come to the United States for school, and met the man Jihan hoped would become her daughter’s fiancé. She told me how much it meant to her that I’d called her an entrepreneur.
“Tell them about us,” she said, and we hugged.
Now, you’ve read my story for this year – and I’m very sad it will be the last one. We lost Jihan to Covid last week.
This is the beginning of my original article:
The point in the interview when Jihan’s voice cracked a little is when she talked about the women back at home, in Syria. They are the 50 women she leads in a cooperative, packaging Aleppo’s famous laurel soap in handcrafted crochet. Read More
And this is a link to the Karam Foundation web site, where you can buy soap to support the Ghar Collective. It is truly the best soap you will ever use.
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Living the Dream💭
Best Practices: When fashion designer and art icon Rebecca Moses saw her projects grind to a halt during the COVID-19 lockdown, she used her Instagram account to bring women around the world together. She offered to paint a portrait of any woman who shared the story of her life during the lockdown and shared her artwork on her Instagram account, creating a network for 360 girls and women in 21 countries she calls “The Stay Home Sisters” and the basis for a new exhibit called Bubblegum, Lipstick and Hope that will open in New York on Dec.
Buzzworthy: Now that Machiavelli for Women is out, it’s hard to imagine why no one thought of writing it before. We’re guessing a lot of women frustrated by the world of work (and their allies) will be picking up this guide to getting ahead by Stacey Vanek Smith, co-host of The Indicator for Planet Money on NPR.
The 4.5 hour workweek: A productivity hack
If long hours at your desk are making you less efficient, perhaps it’s time to book a massage. Or pre-order the Monkee Mount hands-free massage gun holder. It’s currently being Kickstarted in a campaign that ends on Nov. 24.
Wanderlust : a restaurant or activity from our Top Ecosystems list
Looking for an alternative to room service while you’re staying in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area? Eatzi’s Market & Bakery, with six locations in the area, is known for cult favorites like its Homestyle Meatloaf, made of ground sirloin, beef and pork, and Fried Catfish with Hush Puppies—and it delivers.
Made in the USA
Frayed Needle, based in Nashville, Tn., upcycles classic jeans brands like Levi’s, Wrangler and Calvin Klein and turns them into hand-stitched one-of-a-kind pieces. Founder Brian Antonevich, a professional engineer, started the business on the side as a passion project during COVID-19 but with the brand catching on, took it full time. These jeans are a splurge: Prices start at $425 a pair.
To list an opportunity in our newsletter, check out our rates here. We cover the emerging economy of diverse founders:
1. Authors and Innovators
Thursday and Friday at noon, tune in to hear a live conversation about the most innovative ideas in business at this event, curated by Gennari Aronson LLC and hosted by Babson College. Tomorrow’s speakers are Vanessa Bohns, author of You Have More Influence Than You Think, Stacey Vanek Smith, author of Machiavelli for Women, and innovator Stacey Borden, of New Beginnings Re-entry Services. Friday, tune in to hear Times of E founder Elizabeth MacBride and venture capitalist Seth Levine talk about their acclaimed book, The New Builders. They’ll be joined by innovator Isaac Collins.
📅 Date: October 25-29th
🏢 Location: Virtual
2. The Next Challenge Is Awarding $100K to Media Startups
The Next Challenge for Media & Journalism is a national startup competition seeking groundbreaking for-profit and nonprofit startups that will reinvent media in the coming decade. Early Stage Media Startups and Student-Led Ventures are invited to apply. The Next Challenge will create innumerable opportunities for media startups and student-led ventures to hone their pitches, strengthen their business plans, and connect with industry mentors and strategic partners. The competition is committed to promoting racial and gender equity in media, embracing the demographic shift occurring in our communities and supporting startups with diverse teams.
📅 Date: December 2021 to February 2022
📝 Registration Deadline: November 7th
3. CORI’s Pitch Event: Small Towns, Big Ideas
The Center on Rural Innovation is hosting a virtual pitch event to help shift the narrative about where scalable tech startups can launch and be successful. This event features startup founders from across the country who are living and working in rural America. They will be competing for a $10,000 prize that will be awarded during the event on Nov. 10, 2021. Attendees will get a chance to be exposed to the wide array of innovators across rural America. Startups are a key source of job creation, and the ones that scale can transform a community and create regenerative wealth.
The Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) is a national nonprofit working to advance economic opportunities across rural America. CORI partners with rural community leaders and advocates who are committed to building prosperous digital economies that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation.
📅 Date and Time: November 10th, 5:30 to 8.00 p.m. Eastern Time
4. Village Global: Analyst/Investment Operations and Chief of Staff/Partner Operations
San Francisco-based Village Global is searching for people to fill two roles at the venture capital firm, one in analyst/investment operations and the other a chief of staff/partner operations position. The listing on Medium describes the jobs in detail: the first position is for people early in their careers; the second is for someone who’d like to work as the right hand of general partner Erik Torenberg. The ideal candidate, according to the firm, is a high-level project manager with a bias toward execution and action. Village Global’s backers included Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Abby Johnson, Magic Johnson and Anne Wojcicki, as well as Bob Iger.
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This story and others on Times of E are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.