By 9am last Friday morning, our Project Catalyst entrepreneurs were already hard at work prepping their business pitches with leadership coach Susan Bloch. For the past week and a half, our first cohort have been learning, practicing, and networking in preparation for the final Project Catalyst showcase on Thursday evening.

Nadine draws shield

Nadine Zamira designs her shield

A key part of all of this preparation was defining a personal brand and getting feedback from the Tell Your Story workshop with Susan Bloch. Susan’s illustrious background includes coaching senior executives and their boardroom teams, including those at Fortune 500 companies around the world, to enhance their leadership skills. She has authored four books on leadership, such as The Global You, which she gifted to each of our entrepreneurs. She dedicates much of her time consulting with Seattle area non-profits, and has focused much of her research on helping women reach the boardroom.

The morning began with creating a hypothetical design for a shield – essentially a sigil that would project an important visual message about each person. After creating their illustrations, our entrepreneurs shared their designs, and got feedback on the impact of their message. After this, Susan led a discussion on the aspects of a successful pitch, including the importance of the first impression, and the entrepreneurs were left with just ten minutes to develop the first five minutes of their pitch.

The last hour of the workshop was where a great deal of the prep work for Thursday’s event took place. Each entrepreneur took turns presenting the first five minutes of their pitch, and in turn received in-depth feedback from Susan, who was hearing their pitches for the first time, and from their team mates, who have heard each pitch develop throughout the week.

dino gives feedback

Dino Fitriza gives feedback on a pitch

This workshop was just one of many preparing our Project Catalyst entrepreneurs for their showcase on Thursday, June 19th, at 6pm at the University of Washington. This event is public, and Jolkona invites you to come and support Nadine Zamira’s communications agency, LeafPlus, Dino Fitriza’s reusable bag venture Vertesac, Nadya Saib’s natural toiletries company, Wangsa Jelita, Mirah Mahaswari’s book distribution organization Pack Your Spirit, and Hendriyadi Bahtiar’s Healthy Shredded Fish, which provides business opportunities for fishermen’s wives and other women.

If you would like to join Jolkona in celebrating the innovation and hard work these entrepreneurs have put into developing their social enterprises, head over to Eventbrite and grab a free ticket. Spaces are limited, so don’t delay! There will be light h’ordeuvres, followed by an Indonesian dinner. We would love to see you there!

Project Catalyst is an accelerator for international social ventures. This 2-week intensive workshop brings social entrepreneurs from developing countries to Seattle, where they can hone their business plans, gain valuable insights, and meet prospective investors and funders.

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Credit Karen Ducey

On Monday night, October 3rd, Jolkona competed along side 13 other social innovators at Social Venture Partner’s Social innovation fast pitch for the chance to win a piece of the total prize money worth $170,000. It was a full house at the Fischer Pavilion at the Seattle Center with a crowd of more than 600 people in attendance all coming to hear 5-minute pitches of the top social innovations in Seattle ranging from high school students, college students, and seasoned social entrepreneurs.  Jolkona was honored to be one of 14 groups to pitch that night, and even more honored to have won the $15,000 Social Endeavors Award for our new initiative– licensing our micro-giving platform to help non-profits improve fundraising online.

While the competition was very stressful, it was also a forcing factor to help us get our “pitch” down. I’d like to thank Social Venture Partners and specifically Will Poole and his massive team of volunteers for organizing such a great event.  And I’d like to give a special shoutout to some of the amazing volunteer coaches/mentors that helped me with my pitch:  Susan Bloch, Ken Pawlak, Ted Weiler, and Dan Kranzler.  Thank you for believing in me and in Jolkona’s work and for helping to take our idea to the next level!  And a BIG thank you to all the Jolkona volunteers, board, and advisers that came to support that night.  Last, congrats to all the other winners that night!

Credit: Karen Ducey

It’s been a CRAZY week at Jolkona HQ, with the big win on Monday, all the follow-up from the great connections we made that night, and the start of Microsoft’s and King County’s Giving Campaign Month, but we are energized and excited to be moving forward with our new innovation.

Check out pictures from the event here and read articles about the event posted on the Puget Sound Business Journal and on Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Blog.


Nadia Khawaja Mahmud of Jolkona presenting at Social Innovation Fast Pitch

On Monday, September 19th, Jolkona competed along with 37 quarterfinalists for the chance to advance in the Social Innovation Fast Pitch (SIFP) where nonprofits and social enterprises can win grants/investments from a $170,000 pool of money.

Jolkona co-founders were speaking at a conference this past weekend at Harvard University to launch our NextGen initiative and came straight from the airport to compete at SIFP taking place at Paccar Hall at the University of Washington. After a long day of pitches and deliberations from the judges, we are excited to announce Jolkona was chosen to be present next week at the semi-finals along with 20 other nonprofits and social enterprises for a chance to present at the final event on October 3. Congratulations to all the other winners who advanced to the semi-finals!

If you haven’t purchased your tickets, it should be a fantastic day so we encourage you to attend. Plus, 100% of ticket price is a donation to support the top social innovations in Seattle. Read more about why you should attend and how to get your tickets.

Want to read more about SIFP? Here’s a great article by Rebecca Lovell, one of the SIFP judges: Social Innovation: Goldilocks and doing well by doing good.

Special thanks to Jolkona’s awesome SIFP mentors, Ken Pawlak and Tim Weiler for coaching Jolkona on our pitch and helping us make it to the next round! Also, a big thanks to Jolkona Advisory board member, Susan Bloch for also spending valuable time helping with the “pitch.”

Another round of fine-tuning our pitch is ahead once we receive feedback from the judges. So wish us luck next week and we hope to see you in the audience on the third. Even if Jolkona does not make it to the final round, we are invited to present our idea that day so we hope to see you all there!