The Dutch Embassy in Tirana places huge importance on supporting women entrepreneurs in Albania. The seed for this seminar - and the launch of the new Network of Albanian Women Entrepreneurs (NAWE) - was sown a year ago.
At the time, four Albanian women entrepreneurs were selected to participate in the Brilliant Entrepreneur programme in the Balkans (November 2015 to June 2016). The Dutch ambassador, Dewi van de Weerd, gave them a mission: 'Please make sure that you share the benefits of this programme with other women entrepreneurs in Albania.’
Approach: Talent and entrepreneurship
The four women entrepreneurs took her request to heart. Filled with enthusiasm they returned, determined to share the ‘Brilliant Entrepreneur approach’ with others. This approach combines individual talent development with concrete steps for business innovation; it provides access to international contacts and local service providers; it contains creative exercises to learn from one other and is tailored for direct application in their business sectors.
The Dutch embassy and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) decided to organise a follow-up in Albania. The result was a Brilliant Entrepreneur seminar on 8 and 9 November 2016 in Tirana. The Albanian Gender Alliance for Development Center (GADC) was the local partner for the organisation of the event. Supported and stimulated by the enthusiasm of the four brilliant entrepreneurs, GADC managed to double the target number of 30 participants! More than 60 women entrepreneurs from all over the country travelled to Tirana. The size and diversity of their enterprises varied hugely; from financial advisers, tourism, beauty salons, to goat and turkey farms.
In two days, the team of four trainers guided the participants through the ‘Brilliant Entrepreneur trajectory’. This began with the identification of everyone's talent, the definition of the 'why' of the companies and taking a concrete business innovation step. Some examples: Nevila discovered that her talent is to simplify things, for herself and her clients; the owner of the beauty-centre found out that her motivation was not limited to polishing nails but also included the wish to make her clients’ inner beauty visible; and the owner of the turkey farm decided to offer a ‘turkey-cooking’ workshop as an extra service for her clients. The participants learned to bring this all together in an enthusing elevator pitch of 1.5 minutes.
Good presentation is often underestimated in entrepreneurship. For this reason, the Dutch Pitch Queen joined the Brilliant Entrepreneur team. Under her leadership and the critical evaluation of an expert jury, eight selected pitchers performed to the best of their ability for a prize in the pitch competition. For most of them this was a unique experience. Never before had they presented themselves in front of such a large audience.
The Albanian press and authorities shared the enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs. Albanian TV channels broadcast encouraging speeches by the Minister of Women and Development, the Minister of Economic Affairs' top advisor and our Dutch ambassador highlighting the importance of women entrepreneurs.
During the event, valuable contacts were established between 12 national institutions, service providers and the entrepreneurs themselves. And as far as networking is concerned, put 60 women entrepreneurs together and you are bound to be dazzeled by the interaction.
And what has all this led to? The positive reviews speak volumes. More than 60 women entrepreneurs have recharged their inspirational batteries. They have gained confidence in their talent and shaped the future direction of their businesses. The four winners of the pitch competition are an encouraging example for others. The average of 8 new valuable business contacts per entrepreneur have laid the foundation for new networks. As a basis for follow-up events, the Network of Albanian Women Entrepreneurs (NAWE) was launched, with the participants of this seminar becoming the first members. The fire of their ambition has been kindled and new plans are being set in motion!
For more information, see www.brilliantentrepreneur.net