Can you describe yourself in 2 minutes, or catch a potential customer’s eye through a Facebook post?
For many burgeoning business people, explaining their startup idea in a quick, catchy way- especially when English is their second language- might be a lengthy process with many pauses or problematic sentence structure. But for entrepreneurs participating in TYO’s FWEME Initiative, the past two weeks have sought to change that through intensive Business English and Business IT classes, where women have been practicing and perfecting their pitches- and prepping to best present themselves and their enterprises to potential investors and partners.
Led by TYO’s Zahi Khouri Fellow, the classes are part of a three-week, intensive, interactive course designed to advance entrepreneurs’ abilities to communicate professionally, and incorporate technology into their work. As we’ve written about previously on the blog, this is our second series of courses like this for FWEME. After spending time earlier in the Spring focused on developing basic business English abilities, the current course seeks to improve upon their previously-learned skills, and take their business pitch abilities to the next level.
While we’ve received strong feedback from entrepreneurs about how these courses have helped them, recent reports released by the Asian Development Bank equally echo this sentiment about how IT classes and English skills greatly enhance startup abilities- particularly for women. The report, entitled “Using Information and Communication Technology to Support Women’s Entrepreneurship” cites that “ICT tools not only improve business performance, but can also be used to overcome challenges specific to women entrepreneurs—time and mobility constraints; access to formal financial services, information, skills, and personalized advice; and participation in business networks.”
Below, there’s a few of the key highlights from this report- and how it relates to what we’re accomplishing at TYO in recent weeks:
- Setting up women-friendly, culturally sensitive public access points for ICT: The report cites that for women entrepreneurs, it’s critical to have easy access points for computers. We’re aware that many of our female businesswomen have limited internet services at home, and aren’t able to check their email or social media as regular as they’d like. That’s why TYO’s Incubation Center- a space dedicated for female entrepreneurs- acts as a wired workspace, where individuals can drop in at any point to utilize computers, internet, and other related resources. This access point is one of the few in the northern Palestine area- and a key place for productivity.
- Use ICT to support mentoring programs for women entrepreneurs, linking women with national or international mentors: Alongside our partner, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, we’ve linked multiple entrepreneurs with international mentors, who utilize platforms like Google+ and Skype to stay in touch, and meet regularly to discuss business development. It’s through this that our entrepreneurs gain a global edge of expertise- but also increase their confidence in communicating with technology.
- Increase women’s awareness of relevant loan programs through the information channels online: Particularly in a place like Palestine, it can be difficult for women to access financing for a number of reasons- transportation issues, cultural barriers, and lack of knowledge about financial sources’ existence. To counteract this, we’ve introduced women to various online search tools to help secure information about investments, grants, and loans- and equipped them with basic tools to identify what’s safe, and what’s not.
Stay tuned (online!) for more updates as we move forward with the FWEME initiative- and our female entrepreneurs move further into the world wide web!
– Cayce, TYO Women’s Empowerment Coordinator