By Talia Whyte, founder and director of Global Wire Associates, freelance journalist and 2009 Environmental Justice Fellow at the Institute for Justice and Journalism, University of Southern California
The first New Media Women Entrepreneurs Summit occurred Nov 9 with dozens of enterprising women – and a few men – thinking about the business side of the new cyber frontier. Following the summit, I talked to Brazilian blogger and future tech entrepreneur Juliana Bozan about creating Internet start-ups with a focus on social justice. Bozan came to the Summit to find inspiration.
Talia Whyte: Why is it important for more women to get involved in technology and entrepreneurship?
Juliana Bozan: I think it is really important for women to get online today because they are so many business opportunities. Women, especially in the developing world, are blogging and tweeting about issues that affect us. Just look at the Iranian protests last summer and the continuing human rights problems against women in the Middle East; many of the bloggers are women. Journalism outlets like CNN and BBC are using information on our blogs for free, and we see no profit. But now is the time to step our game, and figure out a way to create business opportunities for our words, video and audio.
TW: Tell me about your blogging experience.
JB: I used to write for a now defunct group blog for women in Brazil a couple of years back about “Brave Women,” where we would talk about problems women in the favelas like domestic violence, prostitution and single motherhood. It was great because everyone liked it and we have a lot of unique hits on the site, including from European journalism outlets. However, some of these journalism outlets reposted some of our blog posts, which was fine at first, but eventually we got tired of them taking our stuff without giving credit to our blog, the bloggers or even asking our permission to repost or paying us for reposting. We felt like we were being used, you know, like a new kind of colonialism. Since Western outlets are cutting back on having journalists in the developing world, they now seek out bloggers in countries they want to get information about. Unfortunately, it is very commonplace these days for Western journalism outlets take information from bloggers in the developing world and not give credit where credit is due.
TW: What are you hoping to take away from this Summit?
JB: I have met a couple of interesting people here who I would like to follow up within the next few days about getting help on writing a business plan. I want to look into starting an online newsletter or blog about Brazilian women social justice activists, but this time I want to look at having a better strategy for monetizing my site, so my writers will get payment and credit for their work. I would even consider having more formalized partnerships with journalism outlets.
TW: What advice do you have for other women tech entrepreneurs?
JB: Be strong, be confident and be smart about what you are doing. Don’t let others take advantage of you or tell you that you can’t do your own website. When you do that, you have failed before you’ve even gotten started.