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WINGS Trade Expo 2019 Helps Women Entrepreneurs Take Flight

The non-profit group commemorated International Women’s Day with their second tradeshow on March 24, 2019 in a unique way.

                                 

Joyeeta Ray

Contributing Editor

 

It was very clear where the non-profit women’s group WINGS (Women’s Initiatives to Nurture, Grow and Support) was headed this year. The words “youth,” “girls” and “daughters” were integrated into the event at every turn, even in conversations.

“My daughter always wanted to do something for the community. She jumped in when she heard of WINGS. It’s a non-profit organization that empowers women in a number of ways. The vendor tradeshow is a wonderful opportunity for women entrepreneurs to showcase their talent. This is my first time here but I will definitely be joining every year,” said Ritu Sachdev of Akal Optical, one of the prime sponsors of the event held on March 24, 2109 to commemorate International Women’s Day.

Sarita Kumar, another prime sponsor associated with Freedom Mobile echoes similar thoughts. “We are here to serve customers so this is a great platform for us. I have never seen such an event anywhere else. WINGS is very professional and well organized. I plan to come back with my daughters next time. It’s a great exposure for them.”

Founded in 2014 by a group of like-minded women from different walks of like, WINGS, recognized by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie for their community services, is now over 300-member strong. The vision is to give women a platform to voice their views, showcase their skills, and forge connections through networking events for personal and professional growth. Funds raised from the WINGS 2019 Tradeshow went towards empowering the Homeless Youth Shelter. But what was the reason behind shifting focus from women to girls this year?

Sanjukta Das, founder of WINGS explains. “There has been a huge shift after I visited Youth Without Shelter last year (where proceeds from the 2018 Vendor Tradeshow went). Every girl child grows up to become the fulcrum of her family. There is a huge need to empower girls. Instead of focusing on just women in the community, all of who are established, we felt the need to now shift our focus to the youth and nurture their talent so they feel empowered and grow their self esteem from a young age.

The Voices of Youth

Sanskriti Marathe: “Today it’s our mothers who are operating businesses. Tomorrow it will be us”.

Sanskriti Marathe, a fourth-year student from York University, and the daughter of a WINGS member Sangita Marathe, reflected that spirit as she stood behind the mike on her reasons behind accompanying her mom to the event

“WINGS gave me the opportunity to show my dancing skills. I speak through my performances on social injustices that were well appreciated by everyone. It’s not just about getting up on stage but to perform with purpose.”

Sanskriti is also a TED Speaker who used the platform to speak on injustices with a personalized angle. “There is a need to speak up about a lot of injustice happening around us and I do it through my art. Seeding the thought of empowerment in women should start from a young age and the entire community should support it. If women are taking the effort to do something substantial, its important for families and the community to come together and support such initiatives. The youth needs to actively involved too. Today it’s our mothers who are operating companies. Tomorrow it will be us,” Sanskriti says with a deep wisdom that goes beyond her years.

Kenisha Arora: “Leadership is not just a position. It an action from within”.

Similarly, Kenisha Arora, an IB student at Glenforest Secondary School who is also the youngest Constituency Member in the Minister of Navdeep Bains’ Council, represented the voice of youth when she brought up numerous issues in a passionate delivery that touched a chord with all present. Kenisha is also the Vice President of the GTA Youth Council among many other high achievements. Small wonder that she won the Bonnie Crombie Award recently. Yet for her, leadership is not a just a position but an action that stems from within.

It is clear that WINGS is soaring higher from the time they first started in 2014. With each year, there are new horizons explored. “Last year was our first time. This year we were more experienced and aimed to make it bigger and better. This time we have large digital screens and about 85 vendors. It is an expo of the highest quality where every woman can get an advantage,” adds Kala Narayanan, another Board Member, and a key force behind the Tradeshow along with the other board members Anu Thind and Nillia Suri.

It’s evident that as WINGS soars higher with every event, so does the community.

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