Celebrating women entrepreneurs
This week, we celebrated women entrepreneurs in Barbados at the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) event. I told attendees that this will be my last year and that the position will be vacant soon. I am pleased that about four people have expressed interest in taking up the mantle.
However, the event has been growing so much each year and I’m enjoying it so much that, maybe, I’ll stick around for another year and work with my replacement so that I can leave WED in good hands. We’ll see.
As I shared in a previous article, our theme this year was WE Matter: Supporting each other. The whole event reflected that. Our guest speaker, Ebonnie Rowe, shared some of her story and what led her to the passion and purpose of her life.
Ebonnie is best known as the producer of the HoneyJam show which has been going for 21 years in Canada and five years here in Barbados. HoneyJam, however, is only a part of the bigger picture, which is to support and mentor young women and help them reach their potential.
One of the things Ebonnie said, which struck a chord with me, and several of the women, was the fact that sometimes you don’t have to say anything to motivate people; all they need to see is what you have achieved to encourage them to believe that they can do the same.
Ebonnie fought through rejection here in Barbados to establish herself and HoneyJam as a successful brand. She describes herself as a woman who does not take “No” for an answer and finds it hard to say “No” to any cause that aligns with hers. I was therefore very happy that she accepted my invitation to speak and carved the time out of her hectic schedule because her passion, like mine, is to help and support other women.
The event was attended by a cross section of entrepreneurs and business leaders, leaders of entrepreneurial organizations and women from leadership positions in the corporate world. I married the WED event with the graduation of my ladies from the WINC Acceleration Programme which gave the attendees the opportunity to see how the programme had helped to impact the businesses of these entrepreneurs.
Rather than following the usual trend of calling names and handing out graduation certificates, each graduate introduced herself and gave an elevator pitch about her business. Afterwards some of the attendees were challenged to give elevator pitches about their businesses for prizes.
Three of the graduates then shared what they had achieved as a result of going through the programme. One entrepreneur, who owns a restaurant, shared that it helped her to recognize that she needed structure in the business and that she had to be able to step back and work on the business and not only in it.
Through one of the other participants, who had been encouraged to hire an assistant manager by her mentor in the programme, she was introduced to someone whom she hired to recruit two chefs for her.
That step will take her business to the next level and allow her to do more of the visioning and creating of products as well as documenting recipes and systems so that there will be consistency in the quality of the food.
Additionally, since starting the programme, the business has added three new streams of revenue, one of which is to sell some of the more popular accompaniments that they create in-house for their meals. She praised the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), our main sponsor, for helping her to improve the business’ logo and work on labels for their products.
Another graduate spoke about the networking benefits she derived from the programme and the way that the participants supported each other’s businesses. That networking and support were also seen at the WED event, as some entrepreneurs set up tables to display and sell their products and services. They were well patronized by the guests.
It was very heartening to hear how encouraged and inspired the women entrepreneurs were after everything they had heard during the event. The readings by Danielle Toppin and the songs by Kellie Cagodan-Price were added bonuses to not only entertain, but also to inspire. I am looking forward to next year’s event (whether it’s me or someone else hosting it) and the next round of the WINV Acceleration Programme.
After hearing the testimonies of the first group, other entrepreneurs are now lining up to get on the programme, which is great.
With all of us working together and supporting each other through mentoring, teaching and assistance, we can help entrepreneurs to grow their businesses by expanding their products lines, exporting to other markets and employing people. Let’s therefore support our women entrepreneurs.
If you would like to be involved in the next round of the Acceleration Programme, either as a participant, a mentor or a sponsor, please contact me at the e-mail address below.
(Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She is also the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, the Barbados Facilitator for the InfoDev WINC Acceleration Programme and the Barbados Affiliate for the FundRiseHer Campaign.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org