Vunzai Yeazel, born in America and raised in Zimbabwe, has filled three passports traveling around the world to help women, and now she’s landed in Chicago to continue her mission through tech. The Gorgeous Within founder and CEO began her company in 2010, as a way to bring women together and empower them through workshops and events.
Vunzai Yeazel, Founder of Gorgeous Within
While she has consistently received positive feedback and heard inspiring stories from women who attend, she often found herself wanting to keep in constant contact with all the women who gather for the events she hosts.
“I want to build something where I have constant engagement and consistency and tracking with these women,” she said.
With WiSTEM, Yeazel is now building a digital version of the community she’s built in real life, a way for women to improve their minds, bodies and spirits. Yeazel believes the first step for women -- many of whom have experienced some level of trauma in their adult lives -- who want to help others is first helping and improving themselves.
“Women need to drop the shame, drop the anger, drop the status and comparison and grow. I have found a lot of women never ascend to the places they need to go because of internal factors.”
Yeazel said the platform she’s building will do this in a number of ways. For one, women will be able to connect to vetted, certified and experienced professionals that provide self-improvement services like psychologists, yoga instructors and meditation coaches. Women will also be able to connect with one another to share their stories and journeys.
“This community will be able to let them set goals, take care of themselves and hopefully focus on their dreams."
Since her youth, Yeazel has been traveling across the globe -- from Africa to China to New Delhi -- on missions helping women escape human trafficking and deal with the cultural stigmas often faced with challenges such as being diagnosed with HIV or experiencing an unwanted pregnancy. During her travels, she said one common theme is that, especially recently, all of these women have access to a cell phone. Once her platform is launched, she hopes they will use her platform to build a global community.
“I believe there is a power in giving back to those who you will never be able to see again and may never be able to thank you,” she said.
The WiSTEM program represents a total commitment to her entrepreneurial vision. She quit her full time job to join the program and dedicate her time to the platform, and has found a lot of support.
“I never was surrounded by women; my biggest advocates in my career previously as mentors have been men. There’s something to be said about being around creativity and support of other women every day.”
For a whole host of reasons, 1871 believes Chicago is the best place in the country for women entrepreneurs to start a business. Since its inception in September 2015, the WiSTEM program has helped more than 51 women-founded companies and 59 entrepreneurs through a 12-week, curriculum-based program that connects women to capital, community, and technology resources. Learn more