Over 30 women joined together in an international women’s business network event in Cape Town, South Africa the 5th – 8th of March. This event, organized by Chamber Trade Sweden, saw delegates joining from Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and not to forget a brave group of Iraqi business women.
The CEO of Chamber Trade Sweden, Charlotte Kalin; “This is the third year we gather many of these women business leaders for our Chamber Academy Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE). We are delighted over the powerful and inspirational network that has emerged and the opportunities that we have to take this a step further.”
All delegates contributed greatly to the workshops aiming at both individual and organisational capacity building. Lasting relations were built both on a business and personal level.
The CEO of Cape Chamber of Commerce Bronwen Kausch; ” This international network has been very important for the business women active in our Chambers and empowering women in business in South Africa. We have for the last two years had a special partnership with Chamber Trade Sweden where womens economic empowerment has been an important cornerstone. We will try to build from here and hope to be able to use the legacy of what has been achieved amongst this group of extraordinary women.”
The Iraqi delegation overcame several challenges to be able to participate in Cape Town, not least getting the visas to travel to South Africa. The delegation consisted of Hawraa Abbas from Karbala Chamber of Commerce and Private Sector Development Center (PSDC), Tanya Kamal D Qadiragha from Sulaimanya Chamber of Commerce and Women Business Networks in Kurdistan, Sabiha Almas of the Kurd-Feyli Women’s network in Sweden and Nigar Ibrahim from Chamber Trade.
They were overwelmed by the sheer power of networking that took place, drawing particular inspiration from the shared experiences offered by other women business leaders.
As shared by Hawraa Abbas; “As a business woman in Iraq one is often isolate and it is difficult to get international experience and network with other international business women. It was great to meet so many inspiring women business leaders. It was also interesting to note that we ourselves had prejudices. For example, we believed that because Africa is considered to be ‘poor’ there would not be many successful women in business. I am pleased to say we were proved completely wrong. The power and opportunity of sharing ideas with all the successful business women we met was amazing.”
There were three themes for this year’s Chamber Academy WEE:
- Using Mentorship as a tool for chambers and business organisations to empower and inspire – Mentorship can be an important tool to inspire and connect entrepreneurs, creating significant gains in business and personal growth.
- Using Social Media to Support Business Activity – Social media is an important tool to support organizational growth. However there are practical barriers for some women which include access to internet and new technology such as mobile phones and the lack of education in terms of how to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter safely and effectively.
- Ethical Leadership – The challenges of ethical leadership need to be met on many levels ranging from an individual level to your business, government and community. Corruption is a great problem for most countries and is difficult to tackle especially for small businesses and business women. Numerous examples and experiences were shared in terms of business women being hit by unethical and corrupt practices.
On International Women’s Day, March 8th, the Chamber Trade Sweden WEE network challenged business women around the world to join the fight against corruption – #WEEStandUp – Fight Corruption! One community at a time.
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About Chamber Trade Sweden:
Chamber Trade Sweden is a Swedish-based non-profit organization focusing on capacity building of the private sector in developing countries and emerging markets.