When Raleigh entrepreneur and NC State professor Rosanna Garcia heard news last fall of a grassroots-led women’s march to take place in D.C., she knew it was her chance to lead by example. 

A march on Washington, the founder of social media analytics provider Vijilent thought, was a much-needed vehicle by which women entrepreneurs could let their voices be heard about the gender injustice in their fields. Specific to female startup founders, there were the struggles with fundraising and networking and earning credibility with male counterparts.

She quickly organized and fronted the money for a charter bus to bring as many local women to the event as she could.
The demand was so high that she ended up needing two.
Fast-forward a few months of arduous planning to Saturday, when the faces of over 100 Triangle women were seen at the march amongst countless posters, signs and bobbing heads topped with pink hats on the front lines of D.C.’s misty streets.
In the group were Raleigh startup community members Heather McDougall of Leadership Exchange and the local women entrepreneurs organization e51, Liz Tracy and Jess Porta of HQ Raleigh, and Papilia Founder Sophia Hyder
McDougall says she felt a responsibility to attend the event as a female, a mom, an educator and an entrepreneur.
“For all of us, diversity and the protection of our fellow community members is essential to a vibrant political and economic ecosystem,” she says. “Our strength draws from the vibrancy of our community and we have the responsibility to stand up for ourselves and those around us.”
Individual groups eventually began forking off into separate areas, to either find their way home or make alternate plans like a makeshift march.
Organizers were eventually able to reconvene marchers in a more formal fashion toward the end of the afternoon, though not at the same magnitude of the march kickoff.
As the day wound down, crowds slowly dispersed and the sun began to lower.
The Raleigh group met back at the bus parking areas as planned, and Garcia made sure to give a final announcement before heading back to North Carolina, thanking the group for coming and representing a larger movement.
She said, “This really showed the power we as women have in numbers, and we can take that power with us today.”

The Women’s March movement does not end here

After the fact, one of the big takeaways for Garcia was the march’s impact on the young students. 
“I feel Saint Mary’s girls will remember [that it’s] peaceful, yet, powerful to know as America’s future leaders they can do anything they want in any arena including entrepreneurship,” she says.
For the female entrepreneurs in the group, Garcia hopes it sends a message that businesswomen are stronger together and should lift each other up in their businesses. 
But most interesting about the march, Garcia told me, was that it seemed less about hope, and more about the commitment to do something powerful.
McDougall felt a similar takeaway in a question of “what’s next” for North Carolina innovators.
“Entrepreneurship differs from activism because [it] not only brings awareness about a problem, but it goes a step further to create new innovative solutions—what is commonly referred to as ‘creative destruction,’” she says, adding that she looks forward to the challenge.
Saturday’s event was just the beginning, according to the national Women’s March movement platform.
Organizers are putting out a 100-day game plan for action, starting with a call for women to send a postcard to their senators about what matters most to them and to create a plan of how they’ll continue fighting for it in the days, weeks and months ahead.
This call-to-action marks the first of 10 to come on the Women’s March website, encouraging women around the world to unite and work to advance their communities. 
With millions of participants around the globe, the sheer volume of Saturday’s march reinforced one of Garcia’s key points to her own followers: There is strength in numbers.