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When an Erasmus+ project sets wings to Women Entrepreneurship:

“INSPIREUS!” The Lisbon Experience (#wisdomfromlisbon)

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                  By Christina Achilleos

 

INSPIREUS! Project Manager (GrantXpert Consulting, Cyprus)

Our team travelled last week (11/11 – 14/11/19) to Lisbon, Portugal for our “Train the Trainers” sessions, where we had the chance to interview eight women entrepreneurs on the experience of their very own entrepreneurial journeys. This was a transforming life and career experience for all our team members, and I am very pleased to share the highlights of these days with you today.

Women entrepreneurship is an area which needs definitely more action than words. But mostly, it needs the creation of a genuine ecosystem, so that women can support one another. Our Lisbon experience overall taught us that women have amazing experiences to share, work for projects with great overall social impact, and need to be heard. But not only this. Women need to be in touch with one another. To discuss how they overcame difficulties, how they managed to balance work and life, and ultimately INSPIRE each other!

 

So, what did we learn from our interviews with all these successful women entrepreneurs in Lisbon?

First of all, we saw passion exploding through the words of each female entrepreneur interviewed. Many times, we have experienced an overall passion for life and the excitement of actually doing things, and business ideas that derived from this spark of life. All-female entrepreneurs, we have interviewed shared this common trait: a genuine excitement for life, respect for their very unique life-paths and trust in their abilities and business ideas.

So, this leads us to the next important entrepreneurship lesson: know yourself. These women taught us through their experiences, that the starting point for anything in life is to know yourself, and importantly to trust absolutely your own abilities. This will well translate into confidence and commitment to your overall purpose. Acting on your business idea, while transforming it into a live project, will require a lot of self-confidence and trust in yourself. Sounds easy, but it is definitely not.

Another important lesson we have experienced through these interviews is that these women were not afraid to challenge the status quo. Many times, they were faced with doubt as solo-women-entrepreneurs in a world dominated by men entrepreneurs. The key lesson from this was that we need to stop associating sectors, or whole industries with genders. All possibilities in life are open to anyone, anytime, and thus we should all fight against any discrimination, and importantly not be afraid to challenge the status quo.

Moreover, all of them highlighted the need to deal with a business idea that makes YOU feel good. A business idea that fits well into your inner world, will most probably fit well into society and have a real impact.

Another key lesson, is that no woman should feel any pressure to become an entrepreneur.  It always has to be a well considered and well planned step. Without preparation and securing the right resources the very good idea of entrepreneurship can become an ideology to put the blame for a socially bad situation or unemployment on the women. Peer support networks such as Mulheres a Obra (one of the organisations that we exchanged views in Lisbon) are crucial for finding the right partners for reflection and support.

The conclusions from these interviews can really fit into a long list, but I will leave you with one final one: keep re-inventing yourself as you progress into new chapters in life and in business. This is what will make you resilient, fearless and will inspire others to follow your example. Never give up!

I would like to give a massive THANKS to the following women entrepreneurs who made our Train the Trainers so special:

  1. Mrs Emmanuelle Afonso - OBSERVATÓRIO LUSO DESCENDENTES
  2. Mrs Catarina Soares – Historic Oeiras; Leading Together - INSEAD; Oeiras International School; TheManipedi
  3. Mrs Mafalda Mendes de Almeida - SAPANA; and BLOOM
  4. Mrs Ines Monteiro - MOVIMENTO TRANSFORMER
  5. Mrs Camila Rodrigues -  Mulheres a Obra
  6. Mrs Manuela Carlos, ETIC
  7. Mrs Susana Karvalho, WundermanThomson

Stay with us as we will immediately finalize our INSPIREUS! Educational Programme, where you can too be inspired by women entrepreneurship and start acting on your business plan immediately. If you are an active or would-be female entrepreneur then we would like to talk with you soon!

Thanks to everyone!

Enhancing women entrepreneurship through our Inspire Us! project

Nicosia, 25 February 2019

Women Entrepreneurs: Inspire Us!, a Strategic Partnership Project, which is funded by Key Action “Cooperation for Innovation and the exchange of good practices”, EU Erasmus+, aims at the motivation and support of women would-be-entrepreneurs in acquiring and developing high quality skills and key competencies, in order to foster employability, entrepreneurship, social- educational and personal development, as well as gender equality and participation in civic and social life.

The project has a total duration of twenty-four (24) months (12.2018- 11.2020) and it is implemented in 6 countries with the resourceful collaboration of 6 involved organisations: GrantXpert Consulting Ltd (Cyprus), Four Elements SA (Greece), CESIE (Italy), Story Tellme (Portugal), PIA Velenje (Slovenia), ISOB GMBH (Germany).

Our project “Inspire Us!” intends to create a community of women entrepreneurs, aged 25- 40, from all over EU, after having created the tools and conditions of future women entrepreneurs to overcome any deficiencies and obstacles to achieve self-awareness and focus on personality and motivational factors towards setting up their own business.

The project’s kick-off meeting was hosted in Cyprus, in December 2018, by GrantXpert Consulting Ltd. During the meeting, the partners had the chance to discuss all the managerial aspects of the project, the methodological approach of the Intellectual Outputs’ implementation and the strategic goals to be adhered for the maximum dissemination and sustainability of its impact.

During the next six months our team will extract the State-of-the-Art analysis at EU level, through in-depth interviews with successful women entrepreneurs and on-line survey to future women entrepreneurs so as to evaluate the situation in each partner’s country and identify the gaps and barriers our target group faces. Further, the consortium will develop a self- assessment tool that will help women to better understand themselves, their personality and psychological profile, and it will impact their additional professional trajectory.

For More Information   http://inspireus.eu/

Being motivational and entrepreneurial coach, Igor Razbornik from PIA, Slovenia, will lead the development of the first module for INSPIRE US training - Grow your Emotional Intelligence (EI): Why EI is essential especially in Women Entrepreneurs.

In this module, we will examine the essential natural advantages women have in entrepreneurship - emotional intelligence and intuition. We will explore what emotional intelligence is, the relationship between emotional intelligence and entrepreneurship, advantages and disadvantages of women entrepreneurship, and how to use emotional intelligence to create a vision.

Similar projects in general focus on problems women have in comparison with men in business - but not ours. We want to emphasize the advantages every woman carry with her and make it her leading energy in the business.

“Embrace the inner entrepreneur in you and give it your best.” Tina Garg, Pink Lemonade

GrantXpert Consulting, P1 and Project Coordinator of the INSPIRE US! The project will lead the development of module code M2: Coaching, Mentoring and Consultancy: why having professionals that care, is important for women and their business, and how to utilise them optimally.

Through this module, we aim to introduce to female entrepreneurs the important concepts of Coaching & Mentoring. Importantly, we will explain the practical role of coaches and mentors in all the business development stages. Moreover, we will share knowledge on how women entrepreneurs can strategize the role of coaches and mentors, in a way that can benefit their businesses directly.

If there is one business secret that female entrepreneurs should discover, is that having professionals that care, will help them differentiate in the long-run and strengthen their company vision.

From our team, Mrs Christina Achilleos will lead the creation of this unique educational content, while Dr Celia Hadjichristodoulou, will oversee the quality outlook for this module.

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” Bob Proctor

StoryTellme, Partner2 of the INSPIRE US! Project, will lead the development of module code M3: Investment/Funding Opportunities for women - STORYTELLME

Firstly, it is relevant to understand the different financing stages in order to clearly separate entrepreneurial from corporate finance theory. Early-stage financing from angel investors is critical to the success of high-growth startups.

 This module will present you the profile, background, and investment behavior of angels and the Investment Process.

From our team, Mrs. Teresa Valente and Mrs. Catarina Gonzalez will lead the creation of this educational content.

 “You have to be decisive. The only way to make progress is make decisions.” from Ron Conway

CESIE, P4 of the INSPIRE US! Project, will lead the development of module code M4: Women ́s Communication Skills. Multilevel communication skills will help future women entrepreneurs on an interpersonal and professional level to grow their business. They will have the tools to explore their business ideas and maximise their creativity through effective communication.

Through this module, we aim to introduce female entrepreneurs the importance of communication skills, as crucial tools to work in any environment and be able to start and grow their own businesses.

In today's frenetic world, where we rely on sharing information, a big emphasis is placed on having good communication skills. When a woman decides to start her own business, communication skills become essential and lead the path to a successful career.

From our team, Ms Simona Palumbo will lead the creation of this unique educational content, while Mrs Rosina Ndukwe, will oversee the quality outlook for this module.

 “Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success.”    Paul J. Meyer

Four Elements NGO, P3 of the INSPIRE US! Project, will develop Module 5 - Planning for your Business: dare to think bigger while caring for your life-work balance.

Being a successful entrepreneur and balancing your personal and professional life can be a very challenging task in today’s constantly changing environment. This Module will equip women entrepreneurs with useful tools and methods to plan their business activities in a flexible yet effective way, allowing them to uncover their full potential and accomplish their dreams.

Through this Module, we aim to present and analyse tools such as the Business Model Canvas and the SWOT Analysis Framework, that can be easily adopted to cover the specific needs of each potential entrepreneur. Moreover, we explore the most widely used time and risk management methods, and we invite women entrepreneurs to delve into the exciting world of marketing.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Steve Jobs

 

On behalf of Four Elements, Ms. Nefeli Bantela will lead the development of this educational content.

 

 

 

ISOB - Institute for Socio-Scientific Consultancy, Regensburg, Germany, partner 4 of the InspireUS project, will develop the module M6 - Being financially literate: what women need to know about money in their business. Overview of What it is and how can you improve your financial literacy?

Next to the motivation and assertiveness to become an entrepreneur, every new business will be at risk if the founder does not have the skills to assess financial opportunities and risks. As the initial study revealed, potential new entrepreneurs feel that many of them have relevant deficiencies in this field. Often it will be advisable to work with dedicated experts in fields like financing the business, risk and insurance, recognising external influences, short term financial management and also financial planning beyond the short term (see OCED OECD/INFE Core Competencies Framework on Financial Literacy for MSMEs). The aim of the module therefore is to give an overview of why these topics are relevant and what to consider when cooperating with third parties.

Alexander Krauss SOB GmbH has long relevant experience in the field of Business Creation and Entrepreneurship. Managing Director Alexander is a certified Business Coach and has long experience in coaching young Business Leaders and Managers. ISOB is member of the start-up eco-system in one of the economically most dynamic regions in Germany. It is member of SPS e.V. a Cluster Management Organisation of the Sensors Industry in Bavaria, comprising 60 companies, Universities and research organizations. The network was awarded the title “innovative network 2014” by the German Ministry for Education and Science in a competition of 70 networks in Germany, particularly for its achievements in projects developed in cooperation with the ISOB. Alexander Krauss is currently involved in the Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance DIFME “Digital Internationalisation and Financial Literacy Skills for Micro Entrepreneurs”.

Alexander Krauss, CEO ISOB GmbH

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.” Charles Dickens