Guava Empowerment | Inspiring female-owned businessesReading Time: 3 minutes
By Isabella Silverio
Did you know that in 2016, $60 billion was invested into male-owned companies by venture capital firms compared to $1.3 billion invested into women-owned companies? That is a fact I lead new conversations with when asked about what I do.
Hi! My name is Isabella Silverio, and I am a businesswoman, feminist and creative. I am a combined degree student completing my bachelor’s in business administration and Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. I started my company Guava Empowerment to help women think entrepreneurially in their career and daily lives.
Some background – since my freshman year at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, I have been part of over 10 startups in the Gainesville and Miami, Florida areas. I have also participated in the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center’s Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa program in Cape Town, South Africa. During these experiences, I learned graphic design, mastered social media marketing and what it takes to be a business consultant. Everything was falling into place, and I thought I finally knew where I wanted to take my career after college.
And then I got a taste of “the real world.” In Spring 2017, I joined a startup and quickly learned that my opinion and ideas were not as valued as those of my male-counterparts (who had much less to zero startup experience). The “bro” culture quickly made an impact on my confidence, skepticism in my own ability and attitude. I took the daily frustration working for this startup gave me and walked away to create something of my own.
I founded Guava Empowerment in July 2017 as the first and only female-focused consulting firm in the state of Florida. Guava eliminates the uncomfortable pressures that women-owned businesses face and replaces it with confidence and knowledge to take control and transform their idea into a growing company. We do this by eliminating stigma, being startup specialized and empowering women. Our services include business coaching, graphic design and social media optimization.
Many of our clients are young women ages 24-27 who are too busy working “on” their business rather than working “in” their business. We help them understand that both are equally as important and provide the guides and resources to facilitate controlled growth to female entrepreneurs.
Today, I have worked with 5 amazing clients, broken even, reached over 4,000 Instagram users each day, collaborated with several Gainesville businesses to provide entrepreneurially-minded workshops, joined the Gator Hatchery, built a team of six talented aspiring consultants, and it has not even been a year. The University of Florida Warrington College of Business has been beyond helpful and resourceful to me as student entrepreneur, and only motivates me to bust through more glass ceilings and cross the “never getting closer” finish line.
My “why” is to empower people. I find that when you go out of your way to tell someone how important and capable they are, they will look at themselves differently. I try my best to empower everyone around me, so much so that there is no room for the self-deprecation we are so used to. In our team meetings, I always start off with a lesson on personal development and end with a round table conversation with what empowered everyone that week.
This month I am hosting a Social Media & Instagram workshop at the Innovation Hub, participating in a community mentor program with middle school girls to teach them how to think entrepreneurially, attending the Inspiring Women Leaders Conference and working with a new client.
Advice I would give to a young female entrepreneur is to do the work. If you find yourself complaining, self-doubting and comparing, then you are not doing the work. There are no “shortcuts” in entrepreneurship, only milestones. Collect as many milestones in your pocket until it weighs you down enough and drops your boss lady pants. Women need to empower each other in all industries, and I want Guava to be the leader.