Being a woman or being a certain age are not impediments to reaching success as an entrepreneur
Luz Mendoza is the founder of iMuni, a free mobile app that helps keep record of one’s vaccinations, as well as one’s family’s; in other words, it’s a kind of digital vaccination card that cannot be misplaced or lost, and therefore, perfectly suitable for the clueless. Mendoza has been a nurse for over 35 years, and it was her experience as a healthcare professional that allowed her to identify a market need: many families would benefit from a digital platform that could keep their vaccination record and also remind them of future immunization dates.
The creator of iMuni and her app seem to break all stereotypes of female entrepreneurship: Mendoza has a stable job and, with more than 50 years of age, she is launching a tech project into the health apps market. Her message is clear: nothing can stop you when you are sure you want to achieve something.
Like her, more than 2,000 women have gone through the training program of the Women Entrepreneurs Platform (Canal de Empresarias), an initiative led by the City of Knowledge Innovation Center and the IDB-FOMIN. This program annually supports the professional development of some 500 women entrepreneurs in Panama, providing training, mentoring and the necessary tools to help them build, sustain and improve their businesses.
Luz confesses she is “a baby boomer who dared to be a millennial. When I entered the program, I didn’t even know how to use the computer or the Internet, but I learned all that in order to make the most out of the opportunity and consolidate my idea. I wanted to leave a legacy in my profession with an entrepreneurial project with social impact. ”
Mendoza was accepted in the Women Entrepreneurs Platform in the 2016 call for applicants. She states that being part of the program not only gave her knowledge but helped her to face challenges she had to face: how to put fear aside and believe even more in her project, in short “It helped me get my idea forward.”
Larú Linares, responsible for the program and an entrepreneurial expert, endorses Luz’s message when she says that “starting and growing a business can be incredibly rewarding, but if you lack a support network or the necessary tools, it can be overwhelming and discouraging.
That is why with the Women Entrepeneurs Platform (Canal de Empresarias), we seek to provide them with concrete and valuable tools, as well as the opportunity to talk to expert advisors in each area, a powerful network of peers, as well as funding sources. ”
For Luz, the biggest challenge was being able to combine her job’s demands with the entrepreneur program, however, “I do not think that being a woman, or being a certain age, or working is an impediment to becoming an entrepreneur. What you need is tenacity, perseverance, belief in yourself, and to share your idea, make it known and be willing to receive feedback from other entrepreneurs. Accept your mistakes and adapt with the feedback received. If we believe in ourselves everything is possible, ” she concludes.
After passing through the program, Luz won the economic endowment of the Seed Capital initiative of the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (Senacyt), which allowed her to develop the mobile application (which can be downloaded at Apple Store and Play Store). Now Luz hopes to make it grow. For this, she now has different partners, has registered with the Young Entrepreneurs Association AJOEM and seeks new allies that may allow her to continue responding to new social needs.Around 400 women will be part of the 5th generation of the program
The Women Entrepeneurs Platform (Canal de Empresarias) is looking for the 5th generation of participants: around 400 women who already have a business or those who only have a business idea.
These will have the opportunity to be part of a five-phase program that will help them develop a profile of their project, promote creativity and innovation, work on the construction of a business model and design commercial take-off and financing plans.
1st Phase: “Create Yourself” workshop
2nd phase: creativity and innovation workshop
3rd phase: entrepreneurship and business development workshop
4th phase: mentoring
5th phase: innovation, marketing and financing strategy workshop
Additionally, the women entrepreneurs will be part of a network made up of more than 5,000 women, who take advantage of the platform to forge relationships with other businesswomen who have already made their business grow or are on the way to do so.
Inscriptions are free of charge and can be done through an online platform designed exclusively for the call to applicants: http://canalempresarias.org/convocatoria/
The call is open until May 27.