Prabha Dublish is a social entrepreneur and lady boss. In her sophomore year at Babson, she founded her second nonprofit, Womentum, that connects donors who wish to make an impact with women entrepreneurs in developing countries. She was pushed to take action after taking a trip to rural India and seeing the challenges women in those communities faced. It was clear to her that entrepreneurship was a powerful vehicle that’d enable these women to empower themselves. Fueled by Prabha’s passion of empowering women, Womentum evolved from a weekend initiative to a full-fledged 501(c)3 non-profit.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I was inspired to start Womentum when I travelled outside of Delhi, India a couple years ago to meet women entrepreneurs who had started small businesses. It was clear to me that entrepreneurship is a powerful driver of change in these communities, but the lack of financial and community support was astounding. Banks refused to give these women loans and their families looked down on them starting businesses because they feared what the community would think. I knew that I had to do something.
Tell us about your business.
Womentum is a pay it forward nonprofit crowdfunding platform that allows anyone in the world to donate to women entrepreneurs in developing countries. Through our unique “pay it forward” model, all initial funds raised on our platform are donations to the entrepreneurs and when their businesses become profitable, they then pay it forward to support other women in their communities. We aren’t just a funding source – we are building communities of women supporting women.
- Babson Capstone Award
- Mass Innovation Nights Fan Favorite
- Babson BETA Challenge Finalist
- Receiving over $120k of in kind services from Google
- Funded 15 women entrepreneurs in 5 countries to date
Where is your business based?
The team is based in Boston but the work we do is primarily international in India, Uganda, Ecuador, and Colombia.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
- Deciding to start – the hardest part
- Reaching out to my network to see what they thought of the idea
- Validating the initial idea with experts and peers
- Finding co-founders with a blend of different expertise
- Determining the key activities necessary to launch and putting a timeline in place (ex. forming partners, marketing, website, etc.)
- Constantly integrating feedback and advice throughout the process
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Word of mouth has definitely been important for us. Many early donors have donated after hearing about Womentum from a friend or meeting us when we are tabling at events and pitching at competitions.
We have invested a lot of effort into social as well and have been able to build a decent following on Twitter and Facebook.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Starting and running this non-profit has been the biggest challenge in and of itself. There’s no playbook on how to start and run a successful non-profit and no role models our age who are starting non-profits. You can list more than 5 entrepreneurs our age who have started successful for-profit tech companies… can you say the same for non-profits?
How did you overcome these challenges?
A lot of trial and error. We’ve broken a lot of things and made a lot of mistakes, but somehow found ways to make it work. A big of part of it is that we built a strong support structure around Womentum with various advisors and mentors. These people are critical to helping us get through those tough challenges when we aren’t sure what we are doing.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I’ve had the unique opportunity to actually meet many of these women already so they really keep me going through those difficult times. Being able to make an actual impact in the lives of underprivileged women around the world makes it all worth it.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
The classic model in the micro-financing space is micro-loans where those receiving money have to pay back the original person who gave them money. We have a pay it forward model meaning that all funds raised on our platform are a donation and when these women entrepreneurs make a profit, they then pay it forward to support other women in their communities. So we are just a funding platform, but we are building communities of women supporting women.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
“Let the good days get you through the bad days.”
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
I have an appreciation wall next to my desk where I write down all the things, small and large that I’m grateful for. Some things on my wall include my friends, dancing, corgis, and Italian food. This wall reminds me during the tough times to slow down, take a deep breath, and realize there’s a lot to be thankful for.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
We recently added Drift to our website which allows those visiting the site to directly chat with the Womentum team and address any questions they might have. It’s really helped us address concerns that people might have about what we are doing and convert them to donors.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
- We’re currently learning about the different business models that non-profits operate on and what it will take to make a non-profit financially sustainable in the long run.
- We are looking for help to expand and manage our partnerships in different countries and for someone with experience in grant writing.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Our most vital goal for the next month is to raise enough funds to cover some of our operational expenses. We are reaching out to various foundations and organizations that write grants and pitching them for funding to grow Womentum.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.