Women leaders from around the world will gather in the city next month to help other women turn their “mustard-sized” ideas into something big.
The Bigger Ideas conference, a one-day jam-packed event, promises to give attendees practical tools to succeed in life, career and business — all relayed in mini-sessions by panels of more than 20 accomplished women.
Efe Fruci, confidence and career coach consultant and founder of Odihi, an organization that supports BIPOC women and girls, conceptualized the conference as a way to give women the support they need to go after their goals.
The event will offer lessons on leadership, entrepreneurship, career transition, wellness and finance.
But more importantly, said Fruci, it'll give them a chance to connect with a host of mentors.
‘Mentorship is everything’
“The support of mentors is huge. That is everything, I would say,” said Fruci, who had few people to guide her growing up.
“I didn't really have that many mentors, outside of my mom. A lot of people were not really supportive. This is what my student advisor said to me when I asked her for a recommendation letter to (the University of) Oxford: ‘They're not looking for someone like you in Oxford. I don't know why you would ever want to move there, maybe you should look for a lesser school that you can also afford,’” recalled Fruci.
Despite the others’ lack of belief in her, Fruci made it to the prestigious college.
Once in university, she had to work hard for her grades while also co-parenting her younger sister with her mom, she said.
Fruci did graduate with a degree in biomedical science and health sciences — all thanks to one of her teachers who saw her hardship and took her “under her wings.”
The support went a long way — eventually pushing Fruci to write about her personal journey of dealing with challenges and coming out stronger.
Fruci wrote Faith Over Fear with the sole intention to help women deal with their struggles, but little did she know then that it would lead her to organize a full-blown women's conference seven years later.
Helping women rise over fear
As part of the book's promotion, Fruci held panel discussions for crowds of women — “We just had great conversations around career, business and how each of us turned our pain to use as a purpose and passion that supports others in the community.”
She saw the book tours as a way to empower women; soon, she was planning on how to organize such sessions on a larger scale.
The idea brewed in her head all these years — even as she moved from Belgium to Canada five years ago and established a non-profit for women and girls in New West at the start of the pandemic.
It was in 2022 that she finally decided to reach out to the network of successful women that she had had the chance to meet in the last few years and curated a list of speakers from diverse fields who were willing to share their knowledge.
After several months of planning, Fruci has come up with a tight one-day schedule where women can “lean in, learn and feel supported.”
“I have created a community for people like me, who at one point felt so isolated and alone,” she said.
“I'm just helping them connect to more people in an intimate, honest and trustworthy setting.”
Bigger Ideas Conference is on Saturday, Sept. 16, at Massey Theatre. Register on Odihi's website.