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CofC students pitch businesses to fight for gender equality

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Give working mothers access to free childcare.

The Community Helper was the winning conceptual appat the College of Charleston's Gender Equality Pitch Competition late last month.That’s the idea at least behind two College of Charleston students’ conceptual app, The Community Helper. Their idea won the Nov. 19 Gender Equality Pitch Competition at the school’s second Women of Color Entrepreneurship Forum.

Six teams of full-time, female undergraduate students each presented a one-minute elevator pitch at the virtual event, pointing out a gender equality problem and their solution. The Community Helper creators Mary Morano and Sarah Rosso received 44% of the overall audience vote to earn first place in the competition and a $1,000 prize.

The live-streamed forum, led by David J. Hansen, an associate professor of entrepreneurship at CofC, also featured a panel discussion and networking on ways to help women of color entrepreneurs find success in the Charleston area.

As part of their pitch, Morano and Rosso described a working mother, struggling to find care for her children while maintaining a minimum wage job.

“The pressure to find affordable childcare hinders her ability to get a promotion, exacerbates her financial trouble and causes her stress and guilt,” Rosso said.

As a solution, The Community Helper would connect similar mothers with nearby retirees, homemakers, part-time employees and teens who can provide free childcare.

Differing from the likes of Care.com, The Community Helper is volunteer-based in a particular community and volunteers earn gift cards from sponsors for their time.  

By finding free childcare, Morano said, “Maria can be effective at her job, save money and reduce stress while bringing in additional resources to her low-income community, including food, clothes, books and entertainment.”

Upon recognition of their win, Rosso and Moreno thanked CofC’s School of Business for the opportunity and gave a nod to the other participants and their ideas, which included Kristen Graham and her Money Talks app.

Graham focused on the gender wealth gap that she said is caused in part by a lack of available financial literacy for women.

She shared data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that over a 10-year period, a woman with the same degree and start date as a man will make $260,000 on average less.

“It’s clear that it’s up to us to get the real education we need,” she said.

Her app for women, made by women is dedicated to financial literacy comprehension and ultimately financial freedom. Money Talks includes tools for salary negotiations, student loan financing, stock market analysis and more.

The team of Sarah Sayce, Megan Adair and Rachel Dinning conceived the app, SHIELD, to support women in social situations. With the formation of online groups, users could see real-time updates on a friend’s whereabouts and immediately be notified if a member needs help. The app also can alert the authorities and send a fake call to a user’s phone to help her out of uncomfortable situations.

Lauren Kendall Graham took aim at women’s health and reproductive legislature. Her concept was a platform of medical professionals who would advise the country’s primarily male congress on legislation that affects women’s health and better inform them on how to vote.

Period Pact, a website-based business by Addison MacPhee, Dhruvi Patel and Madelyn Byrd, would connect individuals with extra feminine hygiene products to shelters and organizations around the world that need donations.

Also directing her efforts towards women’s health, Lauren Durkee’s app and website combination, Nutri-her, combats the over-saturation of advice for women on the internet.

“There’s a ton of information out there that can be really detrimental to your mental and physical health, recommending way too low calories and cleanses or things that won’t work,” she said. “Those can be extremely discouraging to young women making them feel like extremes are their only option.”

Nutri-her centralizes accurate nutrition and fitness information and connects users with a certified dietician who will review their diet and exercise and provide feedback and education.

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.

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