In a prelude to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Safecity held a panel discussion on balancing business with a social cause, and spoke to five women entrepreneurs from all over the world.
Mariama Kabia runs Memunatu Magazine. Memunatu promotes literacy, leadership, and empowerment for teenage girls (10–17 years old) in West Africa, Sierra Leone.
Vania Santoso from Indonesia runs SARTIC, which makes bags out of cement. Riam Siam from Egypt was an antique dealer before she founded WEBB Middle east, a women’s business enterprises market.
Kirthi Jayakumar is the founder of Red Elephant Foundation, and Zara Huseyova is founder of WoWoman from Azerbaijan.
On how they empower their communities
Vania says that her company not only gives women skills, it also empowers them with communication skills. "We have public speakers and trainers for workshops in the hope of creating more leaders. This gives women a sense of belonging, and enables even shy people to speak up and teach others," she says
"I personally think that by teaching a woman, you teach a generation," she says.
Zara started her business as a social project. She then realised that the project should be sustainable and make money, so they started releasing merchandise related to the business such as planners, goal setting paraphernalia etc. "We try to keep the education part and soft skills as free as possible," she says.
When a woman gets on her feet, she starts helping others, says Zara. "Women have their own leadership styles and bring their own energy. I am taking care of my employees and their families. In the company, we have the philosophy of paying it forward, and in this way, massive impact can be created."
Kirthi spoke about the importance of role models. Role models show women that they can be anything they want, she said.
And this ties in to what the women entrepreneurs are looking forward to at the GES. Networking and meeting other inspiring entrepreneurs is the biggest highlight, agreed all the businesswomen. But to those who are looking to make connections, always remember to follow up, says Mariama!