- Christine Titih of EmergeHer says Keystone Merge helped her think outside the box when planning her next steps.
Christine Titih launched Oaks of Central PA to provide needed diapers and supplies primarily for African immigrant and refugee communities across the region. But she found that many of those she served were coming to her with a different request: Could she help them with their business questions?
She shifted focus and began supporting immigrants and minorities in Central Pennsylvania in their business endeavors. Out of that grew EmergeHer, a leadership conference for minority women first held in Central Pennsylvania. On June 9-10, that venture expanded to host its first international conference, in Kigali, Rwanda.
“The event was amazing,” Christine says. “The attendees came from a wide variety of African countries. Our speakers delivered powerful presentations ranging from a variety of business fields – starting business from scratch, global expansion, team building, innovations and technology, and branding. We all agreed to have an EmergeHer-Kigali 2024.”
In March, Christine presented about EmergeHer at Keystone Merge in Harrisburg.
Q&A with EmergeHer founder Christine Titih
Why did you go to Keystone Merge?
When I started working on this project, I thought the best place I can meet entrepreneurs and get feedback was Keystone Merge. They have entrepreneurs with experience from many industries. We have a program where we have minority women interested in business. We’ve hosted a couple of events in the area over the last couple of years, had entrepreneurs come share their experience. What we started to do this year was go international with a leadership conference in Kigali, Rwanda. It’s the first time we’re taking a bold step at an international level.
How did Keystone Merge help you?
I brought the idea to Keystone Merge to get more inside information, set the stage for other international events. The first suggestion I received was to go for crowdfunding. The two main problems I needed to solve were financing and how to build up the event from a one-time thing. Some entrepreneurs who had tried crowdfunding said you need to invest a lot of time and start early in the process. I started late but plan to start that earlier next time. Another suggestion was to connect with the Department of Community Development. Overall, it was a productive meeting. I also got connected to a networking group of entrepreneurial women.
How did you prepare for Keystone Merge?
I’m part of a toast group called Effective Communicators, which I’ve been a part of since 2020. We meet two times per month. What I did was, I set up my PowerPoint presentation, then signed up to speak at my club. We can come speak about a topic we’re interested in and get feedback. I got good feedback and changed the focus of my presentation, which was previously focused on what I had done in the past instead of what I’m doing in the future. That was very helpful.
Describe your Keystone Merge experience. What were you feeling going into it?
It was at Pursuit Networking in Harrisburg. It’s a nice location. It was bright and well-attended. It’s a good crowd. I try to bring some people along each time I go and had invited other minority men and women interested in getting into business. One of them got feedback for a project she’s working on. It was a good crowd. You have entrepreneurs from a whole variety of industries and backgrounds. You get in good conversations.
Why is it important to get an outside perspective on a problem?
You don’t know everything, right? There’s always someone who knows something or has an experience they can share with you and help you. I think it’s important to share ideas with a group that has people with solid experience so that you can get that good feedback to help you. You can know how to do better next time. I would encourage anybody to do that.
What was the biggest insight you took away from your experience at Keystone Merge?
Networking definitely helps. Meeting the right people and not being afraid to share your idea even though you’re not sure about how it’s going to work out, even when you don’t have all the answers. It’s a great thing to be able to share and get that feedback from people. There were some attendees that asked questions about the project and got me thinking, questions I hadn’t even asked myself.
Would you recommend Keystone Merge to other business owners?
Yes, definitely. I invited two people and they were really very happy and really enjoyed it. It’s a wonderful meeting of entrepreneurs in the area.
What do you hope readers take away from your experience?
Find that one thing that you are passionate about. Find that one thing that gets you up in the morning, even though it’s not popular, even though it challenges you. Invest in that thing that makes you come alive. Yes, we’re trying to make a profit, but if you find that one thing that makes you passionate, you can live off of it.
Learn more: Wondering if you should attend a Keystone Merge event or how you could present? Visit keystonemerge.com for answers to those questions and more.