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:
- Mrs Emmanuelle Afonso - OBSERVATÓRIO LUSO DESCENDENTES
- Mrs Catarina Soares – Historic Oeiras; Leading Together - INSEAD; Oeiras International School; TheManipedi
- Mrs Mafalda Mendes de Almeida - SAPANA; and BLOOM
- Mrs Ines Monteiro - MOVIMENTO TRANSFORMER
- Mrs Camila Rodrigues - Mulheres a Obra
- Mrs Manuela Carlos, ETIC
- 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!