Between a rock and a hard place but still going for it!

The countries, markets and people that Chamber Trade Sweden engages with are doing business, working and living in difficult and complicated environments. One thing that binds them together is that even though the conditions might be tough they keep going and make things happen.

”Between a rock and a hard place” must be what Anisa Hajimumin, Minister of Women Development and Family Affairs in Puntland, felt when she moved from Minnesota to Garoe in Somalia. She is working hard to make sure that Somalia and the women of Somalia can create jobs and secure a living. See the interview where she explains how she takes on the greatest challenge for Somalia’s economic development – reducing genital female mutilation which today is as high as 90% – here.

The “hard rock hard place” feeling was also what Serbia’s new Prime Minister, Mr Aleksandar Vučić, and his finance minister Mr Dušan Vujović, described at a Chamber Trade Seminar in February, having to put their citizens through painful economic reforms lowering salaries and pensions. I therefore want to pass on to my Serbian friends the wise words that Minister Hajimumin sometimes ends her e-mails with “Change is hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle and best at the end (Robin S. Sharma)”.

The challenges despite Chamber Trade got off to a great start with our women’s economic empowerment network that this year met in Jakarta, Indonesia. We have had the privilege to gather this core group of empowering women several times and the network we have built between chambers and business women in and between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana, Ethiopia, Namibia, Iraqi, ,Serbia, Pakistan and Indonesia is unique. Read more about this in our special feature in the newsletter and also found here.

I did my own preparation work for our WEE conference which was held back to back with Indonesia Fashion Week by trying on my first Hijab – made me feel ready for the ski slope rather than a Hijabista catwalk. Here with Nina Tursinah from APINDO. See the whole film here.

We work hard at extending our network. Therefore we are very happy that our European cooperation partners within the TRIC network has resulted in us working with our German colleagues, the Import Promotion Desk, in a joint buyer’s missions to Ethiopia, helping Ethiopian flower farmers to export their roses directly to the German and the Nordic markets. It is of course a long term task to take on the Dutch, which sit on one of the world’s most competitive channels for importing cut flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables from around the world into the EU.

Between a rock and a hard place is certainly what many Iraqi (and Syrian) women feel at the moment just trying to survive and keep their head above the water. This is reflected in Nina Magazine and the linked website that CTS supports together with our Iraqi partner, the Private Sector Development Center (PSDC). With each new article, Nina attracts more readers and encourages new writers to engage. Nina interacts with over 1000 registered users and the userbase is now over 11,000.  Nina has over 21,855 likes on FB . Now is the time for Swedish and international business to showcase themselves through Nina and promote trade with the Middle East.

We are very grateful that we have been able to keep our mentorship program running with both the Sulaymaniyah and Erbil Chambers. It is wonderful with the great interest that has been shown in developing leadership skills through both the mentors and mentees. The mentorship program is now also running in Zambia and Zimbabwe and in East Africa with women entrepreneurs from Kenya, Uganda antd Tanzania engaged. In East Africa the program is focused on business growth and increased markets. Enjoy the little short film we have made on what mentorship means for our partners in Iraq.

Following the women entrepreneurs in East Africa we see a lot of new business and projects happening. The focus on greentech has resulted in several women investing in for instance biogas in their agribusiness, saving money, the environment and also increasing business.

So what does it mean to be a leader in a developing country and what are the challenges, how do you get out of the rock and the hard place? On May 18th our annual meeting will take place focusing on ethics and leadership in our partner countries. This is a great chance to meet and listen to some of the business people that each day work hard on managing complicated markets and mitigate risks. Read more and register here.

Enjoy the newsletter!

/Charlotte Kalin, CEO of Chamber Trade Sweden,