Inspirational women – meet Elizabeth Thande, TIAW awardee

Elizabeth Thande is the chairwomen for the CTS partner AWAN in Kenya, she is an accomplished entrepreneur and a leader and rolemodel for aspiring women. In April of 2014 she was the recipient of the  the 2013 World of Difference 100 Award recognizing up to 100 extraordinary women from around the world who have contributed to economic empowerment of women.

Here is Elizabeths own story:

I was able to connect with all the women at the The International Alliance of Women( TIAW)  event.  In addition to making deep and lasting connections by being at the event, the Forum inspired me, and made me find my own unique way to “make all the difference in the world”.

The discussions at the event were more of Super Panel discussion in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the TIAW Lifetime Achievement Award, hearing from winners discussing leadership and the future from their own unique perspectives.   One billion women are projected to enter the global economy in the next decade.  The panel talked on what needs to happen to realize the full potential of this emerging economy??  The panel talked about the broad issues of accommodating and preparing for a larger role for women in the world economy as they lead and impact on the global economy in the next decade.

During my interview with Wisdom Exchange TV of Canada, I gave a brief of African Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN) as a voice of African women in agribusiness which is committed to transforming the African women in agribusiness to be competitive in global trade. It is important to know that women in agribusiness are not involved in policy formulation -, development and implementation.  Advocacy is a legitimate process to make public decision makers aware of our views and opinion.

I highlighted The East African Women in Business Platform which currently representative is over 3000 women entrepreneurs in the five East African countries – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.  EAWiBP seek to support the transition of women entrepreneurs from the informal to the formal sector and ensures that their contribution is counted. The Platform reaches business women through national associations/apex bodies and networks.  Intervention Areas focused are

i)                    Trade related Capacity building of its research and advocacy on issues related to trade participation and women’s economic empowerment.

ii)                   Business to Business linkages,  networking and trade promotion

iii)                 Enhancing Business Development Skills- use of ICT to grow business

iv)                 Business advisory and dissemination of information ad business intelligence.

The Platform recently concluded a regional study of the Barriers faced by women owned businesses in the East African Community.

I was facilitated to attend the AWARD ceremony by the African Women Development Fund (AWDF).  AWDF is a grant making foundation that supports local, national and regional women organizations working towards the empowerment of African women and the promotion and realization of their Rights.

The vision of AWDF is for women to live in a world where there is social justice, equality and respect for women rights.  AWDF believes if women and women’s organizations are empowered with skills, information, sustainable livelihoods, opportunities, to fulfill their potential plus the capacity and space to make transformed choices, then we will have vibrant, health and inclusive communities.


Elizabeth Thande- 2013 TIAW AWARD WINNER


About TIAW and the conference

The International Alliance of Women (TIAW) Difference Awards plays an important role that women play in economic prosperity. It honors women – and men – who recognize the importance of empowering women to be active participants in their countries’ economies.  Whether it is a local activity that ripples out from a village or small town, whether it is a major initiative affecting the economic capitals of the world, all progress on this issue are important.  TIAW recognizes these kinds of initiatives and actions through global leadership awards.  It requires commitment to the belief and recognition that women’s economic empowerment has a multiplier effect, generating positive returns for the family, local society, region and larger country.

Empowering Women:  Advancing Economic Growth:

Each year TIAW celebrates the achievements of women and women’s economic empowerment and brings together women from around the world to share perspectives and amplify thought leadership around the economic empowerment of women.

TIAW’s Motto is “Connecting to Make All the Difference in the World”.  When women get together around a common cause, at events such as the TIAW Global Forum, it is these connections that play powerful role in driving change.  Research and experience show that when women advance, society advances.  The theme this year, Empowering Women- Advancing Economic Growth, applies to us all.

The highlight of the Forum was the TIAW World of Difference Award dinner presenting awards and celebrating the women and champions who have truly made a difference in their part of the world and TIAW itself.  The recipients had all accomplished extraordinary obstacles, many of them against tremendous odds and with little fanfare.  They truly are the force that is driving the economies of the world forward, from microenterprise to the board room.

The TIAW conference was attended by one fifty women from all walks of life. The conference provided a platform for women to integrate and discuss on issues affecting them today

A key speech that was delivered during the TIAW conference was based on Women succeeding as business owners and allowing for growth. Julie Weeks President and CEO of Women elaborated on how women were and still are the driving force in economic markets and as a result women would always be the key factors in creating opportunities for women.

Speakers in areas of Entrepreneurship focusing on Policies and practices that enables women reach their full potential:

(ii) –“ Inclusive Mentoring “ program which establishes female talent with executive mentors and an eternal Female Leadership program which utilizes both classroom and on line learning,

(iii)” Gender Intelligence, inclusive Leadership and Cultural Intelligence” – advocating for gender equality to enact laws to achieve equal opportunities for women at the highest levels in the world economy, especially on supervisory boards of listed companies:

(iv): “Consultants” – Legal advisors and speaker providing advice on public policy, advocacy, government relations, governance and entrepreneurship for profit organizations and governments. The speaker on this topic was Honorable Sarmite Bult, the former Member of Parliament government of Ontario Canada.

(v) “ “Women Corporate Directors” – founded and sponsored by KPMG, a global organization of more than 1,8000 women who serve on more than 2,6000 boards of directors worldwide.  KPMG sponsorship provides opportunities for their women partners to connect with and build relationships with senior women representing many of their client companies, while enabling them to further develop their own leadership skills through their participation in various committees and other activities.

(vi)” Foreign Issues and activities relating to the Political, Economic and social advancement of Women,” (Global Women’s Issues and the Future)  – key speaker was ambassador Melanne Verveer who mostly served as the first US Ambassador for Global Women’s issues, a position to which she was nominated by President Obama in 2009.  She was also a recipient of 2013 TIAW AWARD.