Every year, the Franchise Journal honors International Women’s Day by dedicating its March issue to spotlighting women in franchising that are lighting the way for others to enter and grow within the franchise industry.
We’re excited to have six members of the WSI network featured in the Franchise Journal’s Women in Franchising Issue.
Our WSI spotlights are featured below:
1. VALERIE BROWN-DUFOUR, WSI President
Valerie joined WSI back in 1999 when the Internet was still in its infancy. Since then, she has taken the helm as WSI’s President and has helped build a franchise network that celebrates diversity in all its forms. Through her leadership and vision, she has helped WSI become a thriving business opportunity for female entrepreneurs, many of which grace WSI’s top 25 franchise list each month. Summed up, Valerie’s role is to communicate, support, listen, innovate, and make sure that as an organization, WSI is helping franchisees fulfill their lifelong dreams and goals.
2. KELLY BIGGS, WSI Consultant
Kelly is a powerhouse in the WSI franchise network. She is actively involved in CEO Netweavers – an organization whose foundational pillar is servant leadership. As a member, she serves as a mentor to second-year Executive MBA students to answer their questions about their journey into Executive leadership. In addition, she works with mentees to provide long-term career perspectives on various career topics. She also volunteers as an adjunct professor of Social Media Management at Morris Brown College. Representation matters to Kelly. Having her students see her as a professor, AND business owner shows them what is possible with hard work and dedication.
3. MELANIE GARD, WSI Consultant
Mel is a WSI franchisee based in South Africa. She is the past Chairperson of KZN Women in Business and a Committee Member of the Durban Branch of Business Women’s Association (BWA). She conceptualized, designed and continues to run the KZN Women in Business mentoring program, aiming to pair members in need with an appropriate business mentor. Her franchise business is heavily involved within their local community. Some of the organizations they have volunteered at include The Robinhood Foundation, Hearts in Hands Food Bank, and CROW Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
4. NICKY MCKENNA, WSI Consultant
Nicky joined WSI in January 2021 and has quickly become one of our top up-and-comers. She is an avid local networker and actively seeks out other franchisees who could be “power partners.” Being on the radar of Business Coaches, Virtual Assistants, and HR Providers is particularly fulfilling as networking brings her into contact with startups or micro-businesses who inspire her and that she can make a difference with. She’ll often offer these companies some insights into what they can action internally to get their businesses found online. For Nicky, it’s all about adding value every step of the way.
5. HEIDI SCHWENDE, WSI Consultant
Heidi is an esteemed member of the WSI franchise network. As a WSI franchisee, she has contributed to many WSI internal training initiatives geared at helping other franchisees grow and excel in their business. Heidi is also highly involved in educating the business community on the benefits of digital marketing. Over her 8+ years with WSI, she has helped educate thousands of businesses and provided them with free audits to show them how to get more from their online marketing efforts.
6. DAPHNE ANDERSON, WSI Consultant
Daphne recently became a WSI franchisee, joining our network in early 2021. Through her local BNI chapter, she has raised awareness and knowledge of digital marketing solutions to help businesses grow and achieve their goals, many of which are other franchises. Through her innovative ideas and advice, she helps companies uncover growth opportunities that they would not have thought of on their own and, in turn, is making a difference to the businesses in her local community.