We’ve just launched The Story Exchange website but our project has been in the works for over a year. Former bank executive Victoria Wang and filmmaker Sue Williams are the principals behind The Story Exchange. They’ve brought us films of ten women entrepreneurs so far and will continue to seek out new stories of amazing women from the U.S. and abroad.
I asked them questions about how they came up with the idea for the project, why women need this forum and what their hopes are for women who visit the site. I started by talking to Victoria Wang.
What inspired you to start TSE?
Victoria Wang: I was interviewing successful businesswomen in Singapore for a research project and after each interview I went away thinking, “Wow, what a great story to share with other women in business. What a wonderful role model she would be for someone who wants to start a business.” I felt the only way to do this was to have these women tell their stories on film.
Why is there a need for TSE?
Victoria Wang: Women lack role models in many fields, business being the one I know best. When I went into the financial world, I wished there were more senior women for me to share experiences with, to talk to about issues both business and work/life related. At that time in the 1980’s there weren’t many senior businesswomen and I felt quite lonely and isolated. Women want to communicate with other women in business who have been through the same challenges and difficulties. TSE will begin to answer this need by featuring the stories about women who are just starting their businesses as well as women who have grown their ventures and have been successful.
What are you hoping to achieve with the project?
Victoria Wang: We are fortunate when we meet those rare people who inspire and motivate us, expand our world and encourage us to do things we may think not possible. By showcasing the stories of strong, resilient, and creative women, I hope The Story Exchange will act as a catalyst that unleashes women’s potential.
I want TSE to get women thinking about what they love to do, how they can make a business out of it, and how they can impact others. I think a lot of viewers will identify with the individual women we profile here and they’ll say, “If she can do it, I can do it too.” TSE’s mission is to give women the confidence and strength to take risks, to keep moving forward one step at a time, and to build a business that has meaning and promise for them — and by extension their families.
Why did you want to be a part of The Story Exchange?
Sue Williams: TSE meshed with a lot of my personal interests and professional experiences. It’s deeply disturbing to know that women do almost 70 percent of the world’s work but earn only 10 percent of the income. That needs to change. We need to encourage women’s untapped potential both here in the US and abroad. It will lead to more jobs, make families and communities more stable and healthy – in short make the world a better place for all of us.
What did you learn from the women entrepreneurs you interviewed for The Story Exchange?
Sue Williams: One thing that really struck me is that many wanted to use their passion to help them make the world a better place, in small and large ways. Sure, they want to make money with their businesses, but for almost all of them it is just as important to enjoy what they do and to give back to their communities.
Why did you take this on from a filmmaker’s point of view?
Sue Williams: I’ve always believed in the power of media to affect social change. That’s why I got into filmmaking in the first place. If we can help change five women’s lives than that is fantastic, but of course I’m much more ambitious than that. I would love to inspire thousands. I also like that with The Story Exchange I can make the films the way I want to make them, free of the typical broadcast restrictions. It has been a liberating experience.