A Mangawhai corporate executive who began her high flying career selling lawnmowers has launched a new not-for-profit business start-up platform for women.
Carol Brown has spent 20 years in the IT and consumer electronics business and currently works for Microsoft, but now she wants to give something back and has set up One Oh Nine StartUp.
“In the last two or three years of being sponsored into Senior Women in Leadership courses, I have learnt a lot of stuff that would have been awesome to know 20 to 30 years ago, so it’s paying it forward,” she says.
“I’m really passionate about giving people the opportunity to get on and do something. One Oh Nine Start Up is my passion project, and I fund it entirely.”
The initiative takes its name from September 1, the first day of spring, and it provides coaching and mentoring, and provides grants to support women kick-start new businesses. The first recipient was Natasha Ujdur, co-founder of One Oh Nine Events and who organised the launch event last month.
Carol says she is passionate about giving people opportunities, as without someone giving her an opportunity when she was young, she would not be where she is today.
“I was provided an opportunity at 19 and it set me on my career path,” she says. “I left school at 16, I didn’t go to university, didn’t do any of that stuff. At 19, I put my hand up to selling lawnmowers. The sales manager thought I was crazy, I was the only female rep in the country, but he gave me the opportunity to sink or swim, and I swam.”
She says absolutely anyone is welcome to apply for a grant for any kind of business.
“There are no restrictions,” she says. “It’s about making tools and resources that I have as a corporate accessible to everyone and being a hub in the community.”