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C.E.O. Women Guides Low-Income Immigrants

posted Oct 23, 2010, 1:18 AM by Diana Rohini LaVigne   [ updated Oct 23, 2010, 1:18 AM ]

By DIANA ROHINI LAVIGNE

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Over 250 community leaders and supporters came together to honor thegraduates of the innovative C.E.O.

Women training program Oct. 10 as organizers encouraged attendees to support the initiatives of the nonprofit group, which creates economic opportunity for low-income immigrant and refugee women in the Bay Area.

Since its inception in 2002, Oakland-based C.E.O. Women has served more than 620 immigrant and refugee women through its programs, including job training, coaching and support and financial capital, aspiring to serve the more than 127,000 underserved Bay Areawomen.

The evening’s program began with networking and offered progra graduates a chance to spotlight their businesses which had displays set up in the cocktail area of the eBay campus here. The speaking program focused on reviewing the goals of the organization and explained how the members in the audience can support their initiatives in a variety of ways.

“Let us join hands to raise these women’s creative energy,” C.E.O. Women board member Radha Basu told the audience. “The passion immigrant and refugee women in the Bay Area.

Founder and CEO of C.E.O. Women Farhana Huq and AIF president Lata Krishnan worked together to help honor recent graduates of the C.E.O. Women program in San Jose. (Diana Rohini LaVigne photo) of C.E.O. Women is created by their own creativity but released by the C.E.O. Women program. If this (program) wasn’t available to them, the world might never see their creativity.”

But it was the dynamic founder and CEO of the organization that stole the show and the hearts of the guests. Founder Farhana Huq, who was born in New Jersey and moved to the Bay Area in late 90s, told the story about her mother’s sister that touched a sensitive note with attendees. Huq’s aunt was in an arranged marriage that ended in divorce, leaving her with three children to feed. She pulled herself up by taking beauty courses and ended up opening a shop to supportand provide for her family.

This motivated Huq to help more low-income women fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams. “The number one goal of the event was to inspire people to become involved in our organization as donors and volunteers,” Huq told India-West. “In terms of fundraising, we were aiming to raise general funds for our operations to support development of our telenovela (DVD series program) and a future expansion of the program to San Jose.”

C.E.O. Women reported that they have successfully met their financial goals for the evening.But Huq is not standing alone behind her organization. She has recruited some local heavyweights to support her. AIF president Lata Krishnan, MIT/Stanford Venture Lab chair Gigi Wang, and EBay International president Lorrie Norrington were just a few of thesupporters who spoke at the event. C.E.O. Women’s Board of Advisors includes CEO of Telecom Technologies Anosheh Ansari; CEO of Sikara and founding member of IndusWomen Leaders, Mousumi Shah; and COO of Yelp, Geoff Donaker. Basu shared her feelings about Huq with India-West: “Farhana is passionate, persistent, a risk taker, very persuasive and produces results. Her energy and enthusiasm are an inspiration to the women trainees and helps boost their confidence.”

“I know there is such a huge need (for us) out there with 127,000 women in the San Francisco Bay Area that have the potential to benefit from our programs. This number scares me but it also inspires me at the same time. Our work is not done here. There is so much more to do,” added Huq.

For more information on volunteering, donating or general information, visit their Web site atwww.ceowomen.org.

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