Isolation, lack of mentoring and lack of access to professional advice and services are some of the many challenges women face in business today. The 2014 Dell Gender-GEDI Report, a 30-country analysis of the conditions that foster female entrepreneurship found that globally, women and men are not on a level playing field in terms of access to resources. This continues to impact women’s ability to start and grow a business.
But help is here. Pioneers for change – Sheree Rubinstein, Gianna Wurzl and their once rival, Dr Catriona Wallace are working to close the gender gap in entrepreneurship. Sheree tells Dynamic Business how.
Sheree said “I had left my corporate law career to run large-scale women’s networking events and work as a career strategist, coach and facilitator for corporate women. Gianna was working as a strategist for a global advertising agency and was running intimate dining experiences for women. We found an instant connection based on a profound passion for supporting and championing women’s interest.
“In a short period of time we became good friends and met frequently to discuss our passions, ideas and visions for a world that empowers women to succeed.”
From this shared passion, the idea for One Roof was born. From a one-week pop up at a home in St Kilda, Melbourne, Sheree and Gianna’s One Roof held its inaugural series of brainstorming sessions and events aimed at empowering women to succeed in business.
“Across the 7 days, 400 people came through the One Roof doors and we knew we were on to something,” said Sheree.
From there, One Roof launched in Venice Beach, Los Angeles and Melbourne. Speaking of the locations, Sheree said the US and Australia are ranked the top two places in the world to be a female entrepreneur. “We want to capitalise on this,” Sheree said.
Game changers indeed, but they were not exactly new to the game. Designed to meet the needs of women in a market dominated by men, Dr Catriona had already founded a workspace and community for women in Sydney called The Ventura. Both having one big and bold vision “to build a business that would make a real difference for female entrepreneurs all around the world,” One Roof and The Ventura were in direct competition. That was of course – until they met through the Foundation for Young Australians where Sheree was nominated as one of Australia’s top young innovators in 2015.
“Why compete when we can build something amazing and powerful together,” said Sheree.
And so, bolstering their operation with Dr Catriona’s wealth of expertise, The Ventura became One Roof’s newest location in Sydney.
“Gianna and I were excited about working with a seasoned entrepreneur who has founded and led four companies and two philanthropic funds.”
Targeted primarily at female entrepreneurs, their powerful partnership on both sides of the Pacific provides a workspace and resources to encourage collaboration, creativity and productivity – carefully curated in their design and functionality for women.
“Women have worked at One Roof say they are 7.5 times more productive than when working at home or in the office,” said Sheree.
“We support entrepreneurial women in the three key areas of mind, body and business. This includes networking events, business problem solving workshops, educational classes run by experts, yoga and meditation.”
To simply call this a business would be an understatement. Of course, One Roof like any other successful business fills a gap in the market – but this is a business with a mission. It has a bottom line far beyond the balance sheet.
Aiming to expand their community throughout the US, Australia and beyond, Sheree hopes there will eventually be a future where “no-one will feel diminished or held back because of the simple fact that they are a woman.
“There will be ample support for women in business and women will feel supported by other women, men and society at large.”