Fairfield County teen girls unveil new business plans

Girls With Impact program to create top female talent

Joined by community leaders at the Stamford Innovation Center, five high school girls from throughout Fairfield County unveiled their business ventures on Monday, June 26, as part of a new program expanding this fall.

The program — Girls with Impact — is the only online, real-time entrepreneurship program designed just for girls. Designed with Harvard experts, it was created by Jennifer Openshaw, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, longtime Dow Jones columnist, and financial industry leader who has held key positions at JPMorgan Chase and global consulting firm Mercer.

The organization comes just as companies throughout the country and globally are focused on “50-50” by 2030 — part of the United Nation’s goals of increasing gender diversity given that only 4% of US CEOs women, 36% are entrepreneurs, and only 14% are engineers. In Connecticut, Openshaw pointed out, 24% of youth are underemployed or not employed at all.

“The only way to change the trajectory of women in the workplace is to start with the next generation — not tomorrow, but today,” said Openshaw. “That’s what Girls with Impact is all about — equipping our young women to lead from the top, whether as CEOs, entrepreneurs, or policy leaders.”

GWI equips girls with the skills to turn an idea into a business, nonprofit or community project. The program features a 12-week Academy, followed by monthly mentoring, and an online community to create the largest network of top female talent.

The girls presented their new ventures, including the following:

  • I.O.C.D. by Jody Bell, 16 — In Case of Deportation is an online resource to help the children of families separated by deportation.
  • SonarSaver by Jess Takami, 16 — Leveraging Jess’s experience as a lifeguard, SonarSaver aims to produce technology-based goggles to detect submerged victims, given that death can occur within four minutes.
  • Babysitter’s Club of CT by Maddie Bassalik, 16 — Already up and running with a team in place, this business makes better use of babysitting time with tutoring and CPR-certified sitters.
  • No Problem Periods by Jamie Yee, 15 — Since homeless women often lack sanitary products, this venture will bring No Problem Period kits” to these women throughout Fairfield County to improve health and decrease risks.

James Takami, father and CFO of the New Haven Chamber of Commerce said: “If you look at any boardroom, you quickly see women rarely, if ever, have a presence. This program is giving my daughter the business mind she needs to succeed.”

Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei joined Openshaw in presenting certificates to the girls from Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Girls with Impact, designed with Harvard experts, is taking applications now for this fall.  The organization, with the support of corporate and community partners, aims to serve all girls, including those underserved.

For more information about Girls with Impact, visit girlswithimpact.com@girlswithimpact.

Peter Tesei, Greenwich First Selectman; Maddie Bassalik, Jamie Yee, Jody Bell, Jess Takami, Jennifer Openshaw, CEO & founder.

Peter Tesei, Greenwich First Selectman; Maddie Bassalik, Jamie Yee, Jody Bell, Jess Takami, Jennifer Openshaw, CEO & founder.

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