Attended by business women from over 18 countries and hosted by the Mena BWN Egyptian Hub Awtad, Vital Voices Global Partnership convened this meeting of the Mena BWN, sponsored by Mepi, and the new ABWN, sponsored by ExxonMobil.
This meeting was designed to allow the Mena BWN to continue shaping its future while planning for its sustainability and to serve as the launch and official formation for the Africa BWN.
During a packed three days, there were numerous opportunities for the sharing of cross-regional best practices. Mena BWN Hub Managers and Executives offered their lessons learned to the newly forming ABWN on topics ranging from planning a Corporate Ambassador Event to how to leverage the Businesswomen’s Network to strengthen and develop your organization.
With sessions on strategic planning and goal-setting, a Mena BWN Board meeting, and a training-of-trainers workshop as part of the Making It Our Business program, all attendees received a wealth of information while expanding their personal networks.
Distinguished speakers added significant value to the agenda and proceedings. Representatives from the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, the ExxonMobil Foundation, World Bank Group, Foundation for the Future, Goldman Sachs, Academy for Educational Development, and Pearson/Financial Times provided useful insights and opportunities of interest to the businesswomen including advocacy, mentoring, and leadership training.
“The idea for a regional businesswomen’s network in the MENA region came from the women themselves in 2005. It has evolved from a loose confederation of regional organizations, some brand new, to a real network of women who want to do business,” said Mary MacPherson, Director of the Businesswomen’s Networks Program for Vital Voices.
“The BWN leadership is made up of women running active and growing businesses and their involvement reflects the value they see in collaboration across their many borders. And we believe that the formation of the Africa BWN is indication that the model is both scalable and replicable,” she added.
This meeting of the Businesswomen’s Networks provided a unique opportunity for businesswomen from these critical yet under-connected regions to network and exchange ideas regarding common issues and to share best practices for promoting positive change and economic growth. The lessons learned, ideas shared, and opportunities created have helped to link individuals, businesses, and the Africa and MENA Businesswomen’s Networks together. This meeting was an exciting beginning of a lasting partnership.
Aisha Alfardan, QBWF Vice-Chairwoman, said of QBWF’s involvement with Mena BWN said, “This initiative sponsored by Mena BWN is an incredible opportunity for businesswomen to benefit from the vast and varied experience of mentors and speakers and to plan the cooperative future regarding these very important organizations.”
“Our goal is to build a solid foundation for business professionals’ development through networking, training, exposure to good business role models and enhancing personal and professional skill sets. Programs introduced through the partnership of QBWF, Mena BWN, Vital Voices Global Partnership and MEPI will help shape the futures of businesswomen in this region, as well as influence and empower businesswomen here and around the world,” Alfardan added.
The next leadership meetings will take place in June with the ABWN set to meet in Cape Town, South Africa while the Mena BWN leadership will convene in Doha, Qatar.
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