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Change – Melissa Moss

“We’re doing what women would do for themselves — if they had the time.”

Title: Founder and President
Company: Women’s Consumer Network
Location: Washington, DC
Age: 44

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Some change agents work to reinvent their companies. Others work to rebuild their communities. Melissa Moss, the founder and president of the Women’s Consumer Network, wants to affect the daily realities of women’s lives — specifically, how they spend their time and their money. Driven by their rising prominence in a fast-moving economy, women today have less and less of one commodity (time) and more and more of another (money). Why not, Moss asks, use some of the latter to win back some of the former?

That’s the simple idea behind Moss’s young Washington, DC-based company: It does the dirty work of evaluating products and services, so that its members don’t have to. Women pay $24 for a one-year membership and are entitled to discounts and special deals that WCN has negotiated on a wide range of consumer items and services. You don’t have an afternoon to run the numbers on which long-distance service is the best for you? No problem. Moss and her team have done the calculations — and have also secured a nice discount from the chosen provider.

“We’re doing what women would do for themselves — if they had the time,” says Moss. “Women do 85% of the shopping in America. We research the best products and services, and then negotiate the best deals.”

Though WCN started recruiting members only last May, Moss expects membership to reach 100,000 by the end of 1999. At present, the company offers deals on 35 products and services. The products range from birth-control pills to credit cards; the services help women to manage their finances, careers, families, and everyday lives. As membership expands, so will WCN’s offerings.

Moss, whose career includes stints working with California Governor Jerry Brown and with Ronald H. Brown, the late Secretary of Commerce, sees WCN as an extension of her earlier efforts — except that now she works outside of politics. “This is an opportunity to do well and to do good — to build a business that will truly make women’s lives easier,” she says.

Daniel H. Pink (dan@freeagentnation.com) is a Fast Company contributing editor. To learn more about the Women’s Consumer Network, visit the Web (www.womensconsumernet.com).

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