Inspiration and Inclusion: Scenes from the Kauffman Inclusion Workshop

Guest Contribution By: Cristina Sabbatini

On February 16th, I was invited as a female business owner to Design Thinking: Community Experts and Business Owners. The event, hosted by ASU’s Entrepreneurship + Innovation in response to securing a highly-competitive $250k grant, was created specifically to generate insights on how entrepreneurial programming could better serve women and minorities.

If you’re still skeptical on the value of diversity and gender parity, consider strictly the economic case. If we had closed the gender entrepreneurship gap in Arizona in 2015 alone, we would have added $105.2 billion to our GSP.

If we fully closed the gender gap around the world by 2025, we could add $28 trillion to the global economy.

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Cristina Sabbatini at February’s Design Thinking for Inclusion Workshop at SkySong’s 1951

That’s to say that the interest in diversity is not merely a social one — it has tremendous economic implications.

MY EXPERIENCE

Like most of the entrepreneur participants that day, I received the request from a friend of a friend. I believed I would be talking to a small group of people about my entrepreneurial journey, pain points, and some ideas for how we could fix programming to bring in more women. What I didn’t anticipate and was thrilled to discover was the sheer power and magnitude of this event.

Not only did ASU successfully pull leaders from all of the most well-known and established entrepreneurial organizations here in the valley, but they also invited and secured an amazing mix of underrepresented entrepreneurs. One business owner had launched a mobile massage business, another had created a chocolate shop. One business owner had established a school that taught financial literacy and how to recover from and repair bad credit, and one especially inspiring entrepreneur helped women from a Native American tribe escape abuse that most of us are entirely unaware of. It was overwhelming.

Throughout the morning I had a chance to speak with representatives from ASU Venture Devils, The Maricopa Small Business Development Center, Local First Arizona, and Scottsdale Public Library. They asked me questions like:

  • Why did you decide to leave the security of your previous job, and start your own business?
  • What made you think you could succeed?
  • What resources and sites were most helpful in helping create your LLC?
  • What is preventing you from expanding and hiring employees?

I walked away with a new thought — that perhaps success in my business is not marked merely by personal satisfaction from doing work I love with companies I believe in. There is a stronger imperative to create infrastructure, to create jobs for others. I can’t get that thought out of my head.

A huge thank you to ASU for allowing me to be part of such an inspiring event. I can’t wait to watch this initiative unfold, and see all the progress to come. Stay tuned by following @entrepreuneurASU #kauffmaninclusion.


Cristina Sabbatini is the owner and founder of Current, a digital marketing consultancy specializing in guidance and hands-on help with marketing automation, paid media, and email marketing. Previously, she lived in New York City and worked for edtech startup General Assembly, prior to joining PayPal.

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