Entrepinays: Female entrepreneurs hold summit to network and empower one another

SAN FRANCISCO — “Building sisterhood in the struggle.”

This is the motto behind Entrepinays — which is a community of Filipina entrepreneurs.

At their second annual Entrepinays summit, held recently in San Francisco, business-minded Filipinas participated in panel discussions, interactive workshops, mentoring opportunities, and meaningful connections.

“Other people take this for granted because they’re used to being the majority and for us we’re used to being the minority in these business rooms, in these CEO areas where we’re pitching to people so here we get to be the majority. We get to be the ones that feel like we’re amongst all of our sisters, and that’s so empowering,” said founder Gina Mariko Rosales.

Pinays came from a wide variety of disciplines; from the tech world, academia, culinary arts to health and wellness.

One of the summit’s featured speakers was Berna Anat.

Anat found a way to pay off her $50,000 student loans, quit her job and travel across Asia — and now she helps young people be smart with their money through her website “Her Berna.”

Anat said she was very happy to speak at Entrepinays because she wanted to explore the financial struggles specific to the Filipino community.

“Filipinos feel a lot of shame around money. And it’s such a shared experience every time I talk about that so many people in the room are like, yes, me too, me too, me too. But why? Usually, the answer is, it’s just what we were taught. It’s just what we learned. It’s shameful to brag. It’s shameful to show people that you’re suffering. And I think that’s what we need to break because once we break through that very thin kind of wall we find each other.”

Gretchen Carvajal is the founder of Brwngrlz — a laser cut jewelry company designed around women of color, particularly Pinays.

“I’ve always loved accessories and big, bold earrings are like a true, trademark black and brown women statement piece. And I think for me earrings represent an unapologetic sense of self.”

Carvajal said her business is centered on representation and giving back. She sent some of the proceeds from her sales to assist Lumad women in the Philippines who face militarization in their communities.

“I always prioritize people over capital, and I think all of my designs, kind of embody that. My latest one I did all of these different engravings based on my family’s Asian blankets, you know those thick Asian blankets? And it was kind of for me like a reclamation of all the things that I used to think we’re like, fobby or not cool about being Asian American, about being Filipino American, but it’s my way of taking it back.”

The Entrepinays summit also offered the aspiring Pinay scholarship which brought 25 young entrepreneurs to the summit for free, so they can learn from other Filipina professionals on how to start their own businesses.

“Last year, Jamie Cardenas was one of our scholarship members and this year alone, she opened her own brick and mortar business. And that’s just so beautiful for me to see us empower people in that way.”

Rosales and her staff hope to continue to build Entrepinays to reach out to more Filipina entrepreneurs and produce an even bigger summit next year.

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