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Meet Prabha Dublish of Womentum

Today we’d like to introduce you to Prabha Dublish.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Prabha. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When I was a freshman at Babson College, I was intrigued by how entrepreneurship was able to change lives. I had heard of many alumni who had came to Babson, utilized the resources available, and started companies that changed their lives. But I wondered, what did entrepreneurship look like in communities where they didn’t have the same access to resources like I did at Babson.

So, I traveled to a village outside of Delhi the summer after my freshman year to meet with women entrepreneurs who had started small-scale businesses. I just wanted to learn more about their lives and the role entrepreneurship played. It became clear to me quickly that entrepreneurship is a powerful driver of change in these communities, but getting to the point of entrepreneurship is quite difficult. The lack of funding from banks not giving these women loans to the lack of community support where women were expected to just stay at home, there were key issues hindering female entrepreneurship in developing countries.

It was this experience that inspired Womentum. Womentum is a pay it forward nonprofit crowdfunding platform that allows anyone in the world to donate to women entrepreneurs in developing countries. Our model is different than what you typically see in the microfinancing industry because all funds raised are donations, but when the women turn a profit, they then pay it forward to support other women entrepreneurs in their communities. So we aren’t just a funding source, we are a community of women supporting women.

We started in a college dorm at Babson with just one entrepreneur seeking funding and now after 1.5 years we have funded 40 entrepreneurs in 6 different countries as well as forming partnerships with extensive NGOs and corporate sponsors around the world.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Overall, it definitely hasn’t been easy. While we may hear of college students started companies out of their dorms, there are few college students who decide to start nonprofits from their college dorms. So it definitely was difficult finding my way and figuring out the best ways to grow Womentum.

The hardest one was learning how to be taken seriously, especially being a young female founder in an industry that is typically very traditional. Along with that, finding ways to balance college and running a nonprofit was difficult as well. Overall, the challenges we faced were difficult from personal founder struggles to the difficulties we faced being a new nonprofit, but we are proud of the progress we’ve made so far as an organization.

Womentum – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Womentum is a “pay-it-forward” nonprofit crowdfunding platform that lets anyone donate to women entrepreneurs around the world. Entrepreneurs receive 100% of the money crowdfunded on our platform. And, unlike a micro-loan model, money raised on Womentum are donations to our female entrepreneurs.

Once we’ve successfully raised funds for a woman, the money is transferred either to the partner nonprofit, or to the woman entrepreneur directly. We share updates on the progress of entrepreneurs and their ventures with their donors at least bi-monthly. When their micro-businesses turn a profit and become successful, we ask them re-donate a portion of their profits to another women entrepreneur on our platform. We incentivize our entrepreneurs to “pay-it-forward” by making it a requirement for those who wish to raise additional funds on our platform. If a funding campaign is unable to raise the total amount required, the money will be returned to the individual donors.

We partner with grassroots organizations in developing countries and leverage their networks to find qualified women entrepreneurs to back. These nonprofit partners vet the women and their ventures to help us determine if they are a good fit for Womentum.

We are most proud of a moment at Mass Innovation Nights in October 2016 when we got to meet Mayor Marty Walsh who endorsed us on the “Only in Boston” Snapchat channel as well as personally encouraging me and my co-founder for continuing our mission moving forward. Getting acknowledgment from someone so prominent in the Boston community was incredible.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment for me has to be around overcoming my fear of public speaking. I was a very quiet child and hated raising my hand. In November 2017, I pitched in front of over 200 college students in New York for $15,000 and won! It was amazing for me to work to overcome my fear and successfully win funds to support our mission.

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