This website, and the associated book, are dedicated to every woman who’s ever broken through a barrier, violated a taboo, or overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve what seemed impossible, but was merely difficult . . . without even breaking a nail, or whining about it if she did.

My Story and Why It Matters by Harriet Khataba

Harriet Khataba Her story Matters.(1)

My mother was and still is my inspiration. I don’t know many women who have 6 children, work full time, and are accountants for 3 different organizations as well as a treasurer for a church. And, a devout Christian! Where did she get the time? My mum was a “superwoman” in every way to me growing up. I was always amazed by how well she handled everything in her life. She gave me the strength to live up to her example. Luv U Mum!!!

At nineteen, I moved to England. I hated it. The weather was dreadful when compared to the sunshine and friends I left behind in Kenya. I attained my degree in Business Management and Hospitality while working in various hospitality and retail companies. This gave me a lot of experience in business as well as the confidence I needed to achieve even greater… Soon after my career in retail I chose to expand myself more.  You see, my passion is dancing. I decided to work for a dance company where I thrived in key roles for the business. After experiencing the long hours and the excessive travel, which placed me in different cities every day I began to wonder if this was the life I wanted. Part of my experience  was with organizing events. This gave me a great option to work in media so I took it.

I started organizing events, which I love, as I am a people person. Eventually I found myself at BEN TV (Ethnic Media) this is funny to admit, but I didn’t know much about the ethnic community in Britain. Coming from Africa, I was so very much unaware of an ethnic culture. Working for the company really opened my eyes to this culture. Whilst working in media, I found myself inspired by a friend about so many of the differences within societies and cultures. Having a childhood from Kenya, with my friends support, I began thinking about a documentary on FGM. I started my research into FGM and its effects on the women and communities.  With this knowledge and over time I wanted to do more. I began to see how so many lives are affected by gender indifference in ways that lead to a physical and mental frame of mind that differs from yours or mine. This is how “Her Story Matters” was born.

By creating “Her Story Matters” I am providing a platform where women can tell their story, inspire others and empower ourselves to overcome gender indifference. I soon realized that there was a huge need for women to have a unique environment that will allow for us to share our inspirations.  I feel it is important to highlight and to collect many issues women face as well. It is my hope that by providing a medium for women to express whatever challenges we face together that we will become even stronger in our passions and remove our adversities together. I see a place, with Her Story Matters, where a woman may not have suffered from the same issue, but can still offer advice from another. I see a place where a business woman who is successful will support a mother of indifference elsewhere in the world. This will inspire strength and friendships across the globe.

We are sharing stories of heroes. For me, my very own hero, she is my mum. She is my own personal hero in so many ways.  As I grew up I watched my mother work hard and make sacrifices for me. I now understand just how much my mother did to help me become who I am today. I also realize this is just a very small part of what other women and other mothers go through every day. It is my hope, from the deepest place in my heart, that with your help we will give women, from all corners of the world, a place to join and to overcome any challenge through her story. I want to hear her challenges. I want to share her goals. I want to feel her passion. I want us to share her dreams. I want Her Story to Matter.   www.herstorymatters.com

About the Author:

Harriet Khataba heralds from East Africa where she was born and raised in Kenya. Miss Khataba is educated in England in the fields of Hospitality, Retail and Fashion with qualifications in a Degree in Hospitality and Business Management. She has worked with organizations such as Merrill Lynch and Deutche Bank  as supervisor and organization management. Additionally, She has thrived in the entertainment industry as well as events in 2011. Harriet enjoys the arts as a dance instructor and she regularly organizes and acts as MC for many events. Most recently, Harriet has ventured into media working alongside with BEN TV, ethnic media, to produce youth oriented programs and promotions. And, she successfully developed a ten episode series called Trendz prior to her groundbreaking work with Her Story Matters (www.HerStoryMatters.com).

A For-Profit for Nonprofits: Can It Work? By Evelyn Horng

Evelyn Horng picI have always been interested in social causes.  In college, I majored in public policy, and I interned one summer for a nonprofit that organizes done-in-a-day projects for busy people who can’t commit to long term volunteer opportunities.  I also volunteered quite a bit myself – helping to build homes for low income people, pulling out non-native vegetation (aka weeding!), sorting food at a food bank.….

My senior year in college, the obvious set in.  You just don’t make as much money working in nonprofit as you do in the for-profit world.  I envisioned the kind of life I wanted for myself, and the type of funds that would be needed to support it.  And while I never imagined a lavish lifestyle, I just didn’t want to struggle to buy a home in Silicon Valley, or worry about covering all my expenses.

So I entered the corporate world, doing a two-year stint in strategy consulting and then moving on to high tech product management, and climbing the professional ladder.  By the time the kids came around, I started re-thinking how I wanted to spend my time.  I wasn’t quite satisfied in my last job, and I was looking for more….

More personal fulfillment,
More flexible work situation,
More control over what I was doing….

So a co-worker and I started a company called Roonga (www.roonga.com).  Its original goal was to encourage people to share things with their friends and trusted groups.  In doing so, we’d encourage reuse, reduce waste, and help our communities be more sustainable.  But smaller trusted circles made it harder to get rid of things you no longer need, and people didn’t always have the things that you need in these tighter networks.  So recently, we’ve redirected Roonga to work with nonprofits, providing a platform for nonprofits to communicate in-kind needs and building an audience of followers specifically interested in hearing about these.

With the latest turn that Roonga has taken, I feel like I’ve come full circle back to where I started.  We are working with nonprofits to improve the efficiency of their in-kind donations, and to support their causes by opening up their audience.  In the process, I am learning a lot about the local causes in Silicon Valley, and I am having a great time doing this!

However, it remains to be seen whether we can build a successful for-profit company working with nonprofits.  Roonga is a for-profit company – we like the potential of allowing employees to benefit from the company’s success, and we feel it is important to reward talent at competitive for-profit rates.  And for me, I like the self-fulfillment of working for a nonprofit cause, while also still retaining the for-profit mindset.  I’d like to think that we can take the best of both worlds and meld them into Roonga – but we are only at the beginning of our journey and still have a long way to go…..  The future is ahead of us, and we’ll have to see where we end up.

In the meantime, take a look at our nonprofit beta, follow one of our local nonprofits (http://www.roonga.com/nonprofit/#california), and let me know what you think!  Email me at ehorng@roonga.com with any thoughts, suggestions, or feedback.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Evelyn Horng is the co-founder of Roonga, a Silicon Valley startup.  She was previously VP, Product Management, at MLSListings, Inc., and held other product management positions in various high tech companies.  She has a B.A. in Public Policy from Stanford University.  She spends most of her spare time trying to keep up with her two young sons.