Working Together to Support Female Founders
Cummins, Inc. has been an integral part of our Volunteer program. Why would a mechanical company be so heavily involved in volunteering to support female entrepreneurs you might ask? It’s all thanks to Robyn Saphir.
When Robyn started working at Cummins two years ago, she set up a rotating mentorship program for her colleagues to volunteer with WomenVenture, assisting new business owners in different areas of expertise. Cummins, a global company, employs a diverse set of individuals who have a wide range of expertise, many who have been entrepreneurs in the past or who are strategists with a great financial background – incredibly helpful skills for mentoring and thinking through ideas with the small business owners!
When her children were young, Robyn became an entrepreneur herself. While struggling to get her new artistic play space business on its feet, a friend referred her to WomenVenture where she took classes, got a small business loan, and appreciated the volunteer mentor she had. Robyn’s business opened for four beautiful years until she decided it was time to move on. She was being recognized for her marketing skills, and many other small businesses began recruiting her for their own communications! After freelancing for a while, she got into the corporate world, eventually landing at Cummins.
But she hadn’t forgotten about her roots as an entrepreneur. She had become quite the avid WomenVenture volunteer herself, dedicated to providing the same kind of support she had received. “Being a business owner can be incredibly overwhelming,” she says. “And as a woman, I was shocked at how disadvantaged women are in starting their own businesses – things not a lot of people are aware of, like how many women struggle to get traditional bank loans forcing many women to start businesses on credit cards with high-interest rates. If we were to truly support women and fund them, it would greatly impact not only the national business culture but also employment rates and the national GDP as a whole.” This passion for female founders led her to connect Cummins and WomenVenture, encouraging her colleagues to join the ranks of volunteers.
Thanks to Robyn and her coworkers, Cummins has been providing mentors for our Small Business Essentials course for nearly three years! They’re committed to supporting us in any way they can, even donating 500 masks to our clients at the height of the pandemic. “One of the things I like the most about volunteering is that it connects you to people in your community that you might not otherwise meet,” Robyn says. “It’s the most exciting part of volunteering – being a part of a grassroots effort and be connected in your community in a meaningful way.”
Hear directly from an impactful volunteer from Cummins:
Why do you volunteer?
Volunteering is something that is important to me personally – as someone that grew up in Brazil observing lots of social inequality, and the difference a helping hand can make to help close that gap. Supporting the communities where we work and live is also something that the company I work for – Cummins – really encourages all employees to do, as our company is only as strong as the communities we live in!
What have you gained from mentoring?
Sense of joy and well-being from helping others pursue a personal goal and/or business idea. I also enjoy the joint problem-solving that comes along with mentoring new business ideas, and inevitably always learn something new from it
What does mentorship mean to you?
Opportunity to help others achieve their aspirations and full potential. Pay it forward!