October Feature: Natasha Stromberg

Diversity Rules Magazine welcomes Natasha Stromberg as its October feature. Natasha is the woman behind Genderbuzz.

Natasha sowed the seeds for the Genderbuzz platform four years ago, when she created a simple slideshow about Global Female Empowerment on her Apple Mac at home. She was driven by her desire to create a business world where women lead and where women own a greater percentage of global wealth. She also wanted to create a business world which was less environmentally destructive than the one we currently have. She realized that to achieve these goals, she had to create something different, something outside the structures of the established corporate world, so, she leveraged her knowledge and expertise of working in global financial services and in the gender equality arena, and came up with Genderbuzz – an online marketplace for female-led businesses.

Over the last four years, she has worked tirelessly giving speeches, interviews, meeting with decision makers and influencers, talking to female entrepreneurs, corporate policymakers, and politicians to advance gender equality in the workplace and in society at large. She calls herself a Businesswoman, an Activist, a Fearless Leader, and a proud Feminist.

JRK: Before we get into the interview can you give readers an idea of who Natasha Stromberg is, where you are from, and all that good introductory stuff?

NS: I’m British and grew up in a small village in Derbyshire in the North of England and moved to London when I graduated from college with a BA Hons in French and German. My very first job was working as a margin clerk in the Back office of Morgan Stanley International Bank. Over the last 20 years, I have held various senior jobs in capital markets and Financial Regulation and gained a masters degree in European Political studies. As a nine-year-old girl, when I was asked in class what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said ‘An International Business Woman’ and that’s what I became. An interesting fact you might like your readers to know is that instead of being Queen on the school carnival float, I dressed up as Margaret Thatcher, the then U.K Prime Minister. I think I have always thought of myself as a leader and as a Feminist.

JRK:  You started “Genderbuzz,” a platform for female empowerment that puts women at its core. Can you tell us about Genderbuzz, and what its purpose is?

NS: Genderbuzz is basically a search engine to find services and products sold by female-led businesses. It’s like a mini-Google with gender equality baked into its digital fabric. To list on Genderbuzz, your business has to be 50% led and 50% owned by a woman which enables consumers to make a purposeful choice to purchase from a company which they know will contribute to women’s wealth and women’s leadership in business. It also helps women-led businesses working in typically male-dominated industries like plumbing, not to be outnumbered in search engines by the vast number of male-owned services. In my mind, it’s the search engine that Google might create if they were creating one in 2018. Customers also have the ability to rate listed services and businesses and become members of a business community for a fee if they want mentoring and discounts on events.

JRK: Many would-be entrepreneurs sometimes compromise their feminist values when starting a business. How can a person’s values remain intact and yet compete in a business climate that often is not women and minority-owned business friendly?

NS: Well firstly, I don’t think we can assume that all female would-be entrepreneurs identify as Feminists. Not all women are Feminists. In a survey published in the U.K, 47% of young women under 21 identified as Feminists, which still leaves the majority of young women NOT identifying as Feminists. What I would say about being a woman in business, is that it has served me much better to collaborate with other women than to compete in any kind of ruthless way. Of course, business is competitive and everyone needs to use their skills and contacts to gain leads and contracts, but I have found that working with other women in small groups to compete against established companies, is much more effective than working solo. Team-up to move-up I say!

JRK: What do you see as the primary challenges a woman faces when starting their own enterprise?

NS: My primary challenge and I think from talking to other women they find the same, is the doubt expressed by other people that I could create something successful myself outside of a corporate setting. I think women suffer from not being seen as serious business people and certainly, when I’ve gone out looking for investment in my platform, my sizeable business acumen hasn’t been taken seriously by those doing the investing – predominantly men. This lack of belief in women’s ability is widespread and can be very demoralizing for women entrepreneurs.

JRK: You have discussed 4 ways one can benefit from being a feminist entrepreneur? Can you expand on those benefits and tell us more about them?

NS: Yes – I address those below:

Feminist women can design our own destiny It has only been relatively recently that women – and I’m speaking about Western women here -have been able to design our own destiny en masse. Through education and the advance of Feminism, we are now largely able to live the life that we want. This is an incredibly freeing mental concept, which allows our creativity and entrepreneurship to flourish.

We can be bold and unapologetic– being a Feminist businesswoman frees us from the negative gender stereotypes which only serve to keep our true potential in check. Embracing our boldness of voice and expressing our opinions out loud gives us the energy and agency that we need to succeed in the business world. A Feminist businesswoman is not striving to be liked, she is instead striving to be respected and respect is the cornerstone of success in the entrepreneur’s world.

Your modern outlook gives you an edge – we are in the age of modernity and brands with out-dated views, opinions and products will not capture the hearts or wallets of the new generation of consumers. Young women and increasingly young men will be looking for Feminist brands to spend their money with, so if you’re in this space already, you’re ahead of the curve.

You aspire towards something bigger than yourself – One of the keywords I see to describe the future of successful businesses is ‘purpose’. The Feminist fire burns brightly inside many female entrepreneurs and the desire for equality of opportunity for all women keeps us striving for greatness much longer than if we were just doing it for ourselves. I know that’s true at least in my case.

JRK: Can you provide some case studies of women who you feel embody the spirit of a “Genderbuzzwoman?”

Cindy Gallop is a former global advertising executive, Cindy is the CEO and Founder of the Sex Tech platform, ‘Make love, not porn.’ The platform champions values that are pro-sex, pro-porn and Pro-knowing the difference. Cindy aims to transform the porn industry into the love and the social sex industry, by moving away from the inherently aggressive nature of hard-core online pornography into the world of real-life sex and real-life couples. Cindy is also a fearless and vocal champion of women and we can’t get enough of her social media feeds. Cindy, we salute you!

Florence Adepoju is the twenty-seven-year-old founder of the vegan beauty brand, MDMFLOW. London-based Flo has a BSc Hons in Cosmetic science and is snapping at the heels of some of the beauty industry’s biggest brands. We met Flo in early 2018 at The London School of Fashion to hear about her foray into the tricky world of Foundations and we were a proud contributor to her crowdfunding campaign. As Genderbuzz insiders will know, we are a Vegan listing platform so, MDMFLOW’s

Vegan credentials align totally with our values. Flo also unashamedly identifies as a Feminist and works that into both her kickass attitude and her business model. Go, Flo!

Hattie Hasan is the founder of Stopcocks Women Plumbers, and one of our very own Genderbuzz listers. Hattie has been making waves since 1990 as the founder of the only nationwide female plumbing franchise in the UK. Stopcocks is currently expanding its franchise’s all over the country and in doing so is improving the visibility and reputation of women plumbers everywhere. Hattie also runs a non-profit, in which she visits countries with limited access to running water and plumbs in water access. We admire Hattie for her utter determination to succeed in a male-dominated environment sometimes amidst fierce opposition. She is the true definition of a Genderbuzz woman.

Arlan Hamilton founded Backstage Capital. Arlan started her venture capital firm with the aim of changing the investment bias away from male-led start-ups towards investing instead in underrepresented founders such as people of color, women and LGBT founders. Backstage Capital has now invested more than $4 million in over 100 companies led by that demographic. Genderbuzz Founder Natasha Stromberg says of Arlan ‘ I know how hard it is to break through into the tightly knit boys-club of Finance, never mind the even more exclusive club that is Venture capital, so I have huge admiration for Arlan’s tenacity and belief in diverse investing. She truly is an inspiration.’

Sallie Krawcheck is the CEO and founder of Ellevest is betting that women will pay huge dividends for her financial investment company specifically tailored to women’s financial needs. Sallie’s mission is to unleash women’s financial firepower and get them invested in a wealthy and secure future. By listening to what women need from an investment company Sallie is smashing the stereotype that investing is something “by men, for men.”

JRK: Genderbuzz is currently a UK based platform. Do you have a client base here in the United States as well of women who utilize Genderbuzz?

NS: Currently we only have listed businesses which operate in the United Kingdom, but the platform is a global platform and could be enabled for US customers. So if you hear of a demand from women-led businesses in the U.S, we’d be glad to welcome them.

JRK: Do you sponsor events and workshops as well, to promote Genderbuzz and to assist in the empowerment of feminist values in business?

NS: Yes, we’re sponsoring an event this October for World Menopause Day 2018, to support one of our Genderbuzz listers ‘Women of a Certain Stage’. The reason we’re sponsoring this event is to challenge the stereotype that a woman’s worth ends when her childbearing years are over and that she’s somehow ‘past it’ in terms of economic and social value. This is a very damaging stereotype for women in the workplace as often a woman’s entry into leadership roles happens at aged 45 + which coincides with the beginning of Menopause. I believe in the power of female leadership throughout society and we need to support women through this natural stage of their lives and help them to push on to senior leadership if they so desire. We really need to get away from the fetishization of youth in our culture, particularly when we’re talking about women as it curtails our talents. We need to learn to appreciate, value and even revere a woman’s wisdom as she grows older. After all, the current President of the United States is 72 years old and I haven’t heard it mentioned that he’s ‘Over the Hill.”

JRK: Do you have any parting thoughts you’d like to leave Diversity Rules readers?

NS: I believe if true gender equality were achieved it would bring about a seismic shift in human societies for the better. I believe that a decline in what some call ‘toxic masculinity’ and a rise in a more compassionate, measured leadership style of women, would lead us to more peaceful, more prosperous, and more sustainable societies. My parting thought to your readers would, therefore, be ‘Let Women Lead.

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