Sometimes we forget the main reason and the motive of the internet itself, of this connectivity at the hands of everyone. It is precisely to have a connection between all of us regardless the time, the place, religion or conditions in every corner of the world where people may live in. As tempting as it may seem, the internet was not originally intended to publish photos of the delicious lunch meals that we are eating or only to make public our latest and most recent – not necessarily- lasting marital status.
A necessary tool
Now a days, this essential tool that has an impact in the lives of millions was intended from the outset to have a practical purposes and with the idea of bridging the gaps in such a wide world. A world in which sometimes information seemed to be within reach of a few privileged and not for all citizens as if it were a utopia.
Likewise, the renowned social networks should also be an effective communication systems by which societies and communities could get stronger, to help each other become better societies and to reinforce these cultural beliefs and practices of those who compose it.
The name used by networking communities on the internet, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, among other sets off from the actual concept that a social network is “A social structure composed of a set of actors (such as a set of individuals or organizations) which are related according to some criterion (professional relationship, friendship, kinship etc.) … The type of connection representable in a social network is a teaching interpersonal relationship or bond.” (According to Wikipedia).
Following this premises, then we should worry more about how we can create a real network that is born due to our virtual friends and is actually useful; they find out how we look in a bikini or if it was a hot or cold day.
The famous and important people don’t contribute to this ideas, their social networks are simply filled with an incessant number of followers that follow the flock and dream with place, fashion trends and tendencies that in most cases are out of their hands.
The organizations are also part of this tendency of being in social networks: the enterprises and big companies have their accounts managed by Community Managers that they sometimes publish relevant information. But they also fall in the trap of the prevalent trend to fill their walls and spaces of publication in each of their networks with data of all kinds. Their sole purpose is to be relevant and that their publications will remain visible for many (in the social networks among more updates more visible is profile for those who visit them).
In Colombia there is an exception to this rule where social networks seem to be increasingly useless; they have grown exponentially and now there are subgroups in various countries, cities and small virtual communities which have been become real. So real in fact that they pulled away from the original virtual community: A secret group that works using Facebook as its platform, which admitted only women – and not everyone who wants to do.
There are certain requirements and parameters that must meet ineffable way to enter- that has caused so much impact, agitated the curiosity and even a famous journalist in Bogotá asked permission to enter even for a single day and depth to understand this phenomenon, know it, chew and digest it later to be able to discuss this with sufficient knowledge of the facts.
It is a group with more than 8,000 women who are all guided by rules, a manual of coexistence and standards for smooth operation and also do all the simultaneous work of Community Manager.
It is a network where there are 8,000 people publishing the most relevant information and at the same time ensuring that the group remains as a space of respect, harmony and positive example of coexistence among all its members.
The initial purpose with which I opened is that no matter who you are, what matters is the values and respect…what matters is the heart.
Nevertheless, it has not yet been explained what this groups works for and what is the type of information that is published.
What and how it works
This group literally works for everything: from finding an address or a recommendation for the paediatrician in the zone for those who are mothers (the majority). It raises great amounts of money for social causes that are published and therefore it is massifying the diffusion of this group; preventing theft, getting all kinds of help; finding pets. Then they manage to go home in record time or accomplish a dinner with all the necessary requirements for special occasion, including all type of gifts and variety of course without having to go out of the house, because the majority of products which are offered WikiWomen also have home service.
I decided do this article; although almost from the beginning I am part of it and can corroborate how it works, what benefits it has and the infinite reach that it seems to have becoming one of the best problem solving tools. I have also been a “victim” of the criticism for example from husbands who judge us from being addicted to Wiki and have no life beyond the group and paradoxically are the people that when in need, when they need something done in a short period of time say “ask in wiki”.
The evolution can be explained with the metaphor of an onion from the group women they have been expressing increasingly from its true essence and we have been coming to that among all we can talk about what is in the heart of the onion, stirring layer by layer in the day.
The founder, manager and motor of this is a young Argentinian women living in Colombia because of her family, married with a Colombian and is also mother of two. She is a marketing and sociology of the consumer and new tendencies expert who has already been a successful blogger in an important women’s issues such as motherhood and permanent dichotomy between work and the condition of being a working mom who is also passionate about new digital trends and the potential of both virtual communities how the true meaning internet should have.
She created an all-female group that believes in the power and strength of this genre. She believes that women have been underestimated for a long time. She understands the effect a true fraternity can have and a union based on mutual convenience between us, women, created in Colombia not only for the obvious reasons: their place of residence given that she is settled down in Colombia, but also because she believes in Colombia.
She likes the country and enjoys their people, their characteristics but she dreamed of helping somehow Colombian women to take off little stigmas they have and the pressures loaded by certain inherent social characteristics that do not allow women to express themselves freely with no concern for appearances.
Wiki: the group
The group, which operates as a real community with rules, regulations, guidelines and limits for the interactions of its participants, but in its essence is virtual, it was born like this and will remain as such, (one of the things to come that are setting for also a success is an app that brings together in one place online the best of the group and not have to rely on Facebook) has gone further, back and above all a real community in which women are forming relationships, friendships, personal relationships and thus the support network is no longer just virtual but also real.
Wiki is joining thousands of women among them because they have some or a lot in common because they discover that positive and fraternal relations based on mutual help among women themselves are possible. All women who are part of the network all help each other because the premise is “Somebody has or knows what I need and turn someone needs what I know or have.”
From this exchange of information they get to know each other. Consequently strengthening the bond of the musketeers: one for all and all for one.
I asked more than 30 women, the first to answer, and they all agreed in saying that for them on e of the essential components of the groups success, if not the most important, is that more than a network, a group or a community, Wikiwomen in Colombia works like a sisterhood.
For all Solkes readers we rewrote the interview with Geraldine Pomato, creator of Wikiwomen in Colombia in order to know a little more about the origins of the group, its inner workings, its characteristics and anecdotes to have a further understanding of the growth and success same and why everybody in Colombia wants to be a Wiki. Some interview questions were chosen from those suggested by some members of the group to be made, each of these goes by the name of who sent it.
Juanita Bernal Sanint: I am a part of this groups since it began, nevertheless I want to hear from the mouth of its creator, some important information, I wanted her to tell us more ¿What is Wikiwomen?, how does it work, how did the idea start and how has it evolved this year? I would like to know what this project means for you?
Success is precisely that we all feel that we can talk about all subjects.
Geraldine Pomato: Wikiwomen in Colombia, is a space where women will always have echo and that does not always happen in everyday life. Women don’t always have a voice and this is a space where women can talk about absolutely everything. There is something that I think makes it different and that is that their problems are all my problems, your problems are all and are everyone’s problems. They have the same concern and have the same prejudice to talk and express themselves. It is the space to break the paradigm and see what we can do much more.
It started, because when I came to Colombia I realised that here woman are a bit more closed to breaking the paradigm because of a few prejudices that already exist and therefore feel more enclosed and have less strength to speak up. It emerged not only as a space where women can speak and can express themselves but they must take credit for it. Here everything must be done with a name and that makes part of changing the chip. It makes people take credit and responsibility for what they say without feeling bad for doing so. It is the space in which we realise that we are all real women who suffer from the same conditions ranging from negligible to major dilemmas and to express it, we taking action and taking responsibility to turn our role as an active woman.
For me the meaning of challenge, is to demonstrate that it is possible, it is possible for women to take charge and take actions with a certain reach. The immense alternatives our power has, it means that all the information that books speak of showing that collective work and benefits a community can achieve in reality with effort and cooperation. It is an opportunity to demonstrate that gratitude is an “emotional salary” and that societies work when a problem touches all of us, and selflessly give council, help or information and they do so just because they want to help others.
JBS: If you could define the group in three words that characterize it. What would they be?
GP: Community because I feel it is a real community and real, community or sisterhood, works best because it has formed a sisterhood; respect and power of what is feminine power to undertake to do and to achieve do a thousand things at once. The power of what can be achieved only with our head, the information we have and a computer to be part of an effective network and a real social community and also the power that is in each of women and not expect others to do something for me. The power to do something to change the world, the power to file a complaint respectfully and to generate a change, the power of decision when to purchase or consumer of a service, the power to create change and make things work correctly but with respect and with a purpose.
I was also surprised that there are women who have given up their jobs because wiki has promoted and helped to take off their businesses and now have jobs that make them happier and help them fulfil their life purposes. It is a push around entrepreneurship and give women a power from home.
JBS: This is a group that constantly surprises us positively and shows us… that unity is strength tell us about some of these cases that have surprised you or impacted which have been able to support each other and solve things that seem impossible.
GP: In a week we take down and remove from circulation a book by a youtuber for teenagers who urged them to have sex, to be rude and many other things is not suitable for a good development of the society, if I said this is pure wikipower and things that have happened that can be for good or ill complaints regarding restaurants and public places there is a very quick response and especially effective establishment solving the concern or problem presented. That kind of things make us see that we are united and if indeed there is a collective power.
I want to make a parenthesis, besides interviewing the founder, I wanted to actually test the power of the, a small experiment of sorts. In the same group were I made a post asking who wanted to talk to the group and answer one question about this for an article I was doing and not only received contributions and wonderful comments but in less than two hours, I had more than 80 interactions and indeed I played at two hours post an update asking them not to reply anymore of the article would be eternal.
Carolina Yepes: How do you manage to achieve all this without profiting, is there any possibility that you profit at some point and they can make a profit other women in this job?
GP: I have turned down job offers in places that everyone would dream to work because I believe in the group and I think that after going to remember that the decision I made was the right one. I am dedicate between 16 and 17 hours a day and that’s my job, my project, my venture obviously this year one of the projects is not only to have power of profit but a space of work for many women, that is sustainable and profitable.
A portafolio is being developed where we have different things to offer to brands and will certainly help many women working from home and also economically benefit to the group.
The portfolio is designed to maintain such a community which is but having the opportunity to generate income for many women. Only the brands that share our values and benefit us will be a part of the wiki women alliance.
Lina María Ramírez: Do you think this is the success of the group should be exclusive to women? If you were offered to manage a wikimen and women would you do it? And if so what would be the first rule of the manual?
GP: I don’t know if the success is that it would be women only, it works as the extent that you do it from you to you that is why I like working with women from the inside towards the outside, first we have to work as ourselves as women so that after it can be mixed group, first we have to make sure that it works just how it is. If it were a mixed group it would just be one more group on Facebook, what characterizes us is that it is female group. The first rule would be to think as if you were from the opposite sex, this is a way that you are breaking paradigms and breaking layers, accomplishing the objective.
Carrying on with the interview…
JBS: I was afflicted by the case of Jerónimo and the thousands of helps and recollected fonds using the group as a platform in just a couple of days. Tell us a little bit about this how did it emerge, whose idea was it to support his cause as a group, what lesson did this leave us. (Jerónimo is a little angel who was diagnosed with reoccurring leukemia after many years of treatment and he need an exorbitant amount of money in a few days to start the only treatment that could give him and his family hope and Wikiwomen in Colombia adhered to its cause by accomplishing a considerable and important sum of money from its campaign, a marathon and different activities done in the group).
GP: Everything happened naturally with that cause because Natalia, the mom is in the group and from there and the sisterhood was activated, it is something that can happen to any of us and we identify so much as long as everything became a problem of all of us. A force and power that was not only affordable for donations but also political and journalistic which was achieved among other things took the case to the national media and was massive.
All of us became sensitive and identified with the cause because it could happen to anyone among us. We began to do something: some contacted agencies, other media, other family, it was a work of absolute group we activated all working towards the same goal, I believe that this was achieved because we work from the heart.
We pealed the layers of the onion and heart connected with each other hearts, an umbilical cord is formed.
If it were a mixed group it would just be one more group on Facebook, what characterizes us is that it is female group. The first rule would be to think as if you were from the opposite sex, this is a way that you are breaking paradigms and breaking layers, accomplishing the objective.
JBS: How many countries are there right now that have been opened from the large group? How many subgroups? How do these to be part of one of them should be made part of the main group?
GP: At the moment there are twenty countries that have created groups of Wiki Women and especially for each part, there are some groups but you cannot create more groups unless there are specific subgroups with support, because the idea that everything develops from the big group. To be part of subgroup you should be in the main one, to be part of the country not because everyone is creating their own filter and each group grows with its people but I am the mangers of the groups and I have to mediate all of them, all of them are secret and feminine groups.
JBS: Thank you very much, Geraldine, for all that you do every day: for your ideas and innovative and creative entrepreneurship, for your dedication and for the time you gave us for this interview.
This is just some of the wonderful woman who Geraldine Pomato is, charming in every sense of the word. Wiki Women in Colombia will continue to be in many conversations and continue to grow by leaps and bounds. In fact at the end of this publication Geraldine and the group were invited to an international marketing fair to be held soon in Bogotá to present the experience as a successful case in worldwide marketing.
Wiki women will reach other places in th world, that is a fact, sub groups will not be created. While this is going on and we keep on growing in an exponential manner and exemplar, me with other 8025 member on 14 of April 2016, we can decide with joy. I am proud to be a wikiwoman.