Friday, January 26 marked the third annual Waterloo Women: Ideas, Makers, Innovators (WIMIn) ideathon event. Students, staff, faculty and alumni joined forces to inspire women to collaborate on developing world-changing ideas leading to potential products, businesses and a shift in mindset on pressing social issues.  The event hopes to leave a direct and sustainable impact in supporting and connecting women and non-binary attendees to become trailblazers in traditionally male-dominated spaces.

Mentor speaking with mentees“It’s a great way to practice what you learn,” said participant and Economic Student Chantale Madakadze. “Waterloo has a start-up spirit and mentality, and if you’re someone like me who is not really sure exactly how to get involved but want to, I would suggest coming out to events like this… no matter how big or small your idea is.”

In attendance included Co-founder and COO of Yoga Tree Studios and Waterloo alumni Debbie Fung, who acknowledged the hesitations many first-time entrepreneurs face, but the strong qualities each of them need to recognize within themselves to take that first big step.

“It’s really important for them to understand that they have the knowledge, they have the grit, they have the ability to start things that they are probably nervous [about], like myself when they first started,” said Fung.  “But if they overcome this internal fear, they’ll be able to go above and beyond what they’re capable of.

WIMIn is unique to the innovation and entrepreneur space at the University of Waterloo as it’s exclusively aimed to include participants who identify as women or non-binary.  For many of the attendees, this creates a safe and empowering environment for participants to lean-in to their future potential.

“Having events like these really encourage women to take a leap of faith and go forward with their ideas, and see where it takes them,” said Razan Qaoud, a Global Business and Digital Arts student.  “I feel like this has given me access to a lot more female mentors to be like, hey, this is my new idea, can you give me some feedback on it or your insights?”

WIMIn builds on the commitment made by the University of Waterloo to the United Nation’s HeForShe campaign in May 2015.

Girls with WIMIn mitts on