By Edwina Duenas, Communications Associate
On the first day of programming in Tunisia, delegates joined members of the Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability program (WES) in a Training of Trainers (TOT) in Hammamet. WES is also managed by IIE’s Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives in San Francisco and partners with 12 civil society organizations to create Centers for Women’s Business Development across 11 regions of Tunisia. WES Centers provide women with business development training and coaching, and facilitate access to experts, mentors and financial services that support women entrepreneurs to launch and grow businesses. Since the program launched, over 1600 women entrepreneurs have benefitted from training, networks and support through the WES Centers and, as a result, over 200 have launched or expanded businesses in diverse fields, ranging from IT services to traditional Tunisian carpet-making.
During the meeting, the TechWomen delegation participated in a World Café session, in which the WES trainers and staff, and TechWomen Mentors and Emerging Leaders broke into small groups to discuss topics of interest related to the TOT, including e-commerce best practices and how to use social media to build a brand and market products and services. Mentors from companies such as Yahoo, Juniper Networks, and Symantec facilitated the sessions, offering suggestions and sharing ways to address challenges. They also shared personal anecdotes on women’s entrepreneurship, risk taking, and leveraging social media for business.
This session provided a platform for Mentors and Tunisian Emerging Leaders to inspire women entrepreneurs to think big in both global and local contexts. With the TechWomen network comprised of accomplished women in technical fields, entrepreneurs, and innovators, delegates were eager to share their experiences. WES works with the Centers to establish sustainable business models and support women to positively contribute to the Tunisian economy. This session provided the wonderful opportunity for knowledge exchange in which WES trainers learned additional best practices in social media for business while the TechWomen delegation gained a deeper understanding of the local context and challenges for women in the current entrepreneurship landscape in Tunisia.
During the visit, delegates also had the opportunity to view and purchase products made by WES entrepreneurs. The delegation looks forward to exploring Tunisia by meeting with local businesses, organizations, and schools focused on supporting women and girls.
Photo Credit: Women’s Entrepreneurship for Sustainability