Exchange Matters / March 24, 2022

Empowering Women in Entrepreneurship Through International Exchange 

Compiled by Margaret Pfeifle, Communications Intern, Global Ties U.S.

In honor of Women’s History Month, our Community-Based Members are highlighting International Visitor Leadership Programs (IVLP) that empower and champion women in diverse fields. Global Ties KC, Global Ties Sacramento, and Gulf Coast Diplomacy share how they are advocating for women entrepreneurs through international exchange and citizen diplomacy.

Women and Entrepreneurship: A Regional Project for Africa 

CBM: Global Ties KC
NPA: American Councils for International Education  

Photo provided by Global Ties KC

Societies that empower women to participate fully in civic and economic life are more prosperous and peaceful. Even modest investments in the abilities and potential of women and girls can yield transformative results, not just for women and girls themselves, but for their families and communities. This can be seen in a profound way through the enduring impact of International Visitor Leadership Programs (IVLPs) focused on women and entrepreneurship. 

Over the last decade, Global Ties KC, like many Community-Based Member organizations across the United States, has hosted dozens of IVLPs focused on women in business and entrepreneurship. The Kansas City entrepreneurial community, which was named one of the top five cities for entrepreneurship in the Global Entrepreneurship Congress’ Cities Challenge, is committed to empowering women both locally and across the world. IVLP participants, such as those involved with the 2021 regional program “Women and Entrepreneurship” for Africa, gain a clear understanding not only of resources, but also their own potential through interactions with entrepreneurs, incubators, and other critical aspects of the business ecosystem. 

Through their time in Kansas City, visitors worked on a key element in securing funding or establishing loyal customers – the elevator pitch. In 90 seconds, an elevator pitch answers: What does your business do?, Who for?, Why did you develop this business?, What are your needs?, and How can we help? 

Thanks to Rebecca Dove and Quest Moffat, two Kansas City entrepreneurs and educators, participants from around the world were led through the step-by-step process of creating their own elevator pitches based on their audiences—which could be anyone from a funder to a prospective consumer—and situations—which might be a cocktail hour or business meeting. 

“This was a wonderful experience for me to see so many amazing women from different countries in Africa. They took feedback well and I was inspired by their business ideas. For example, one woman had a business to help farmers, another to support other women who needed entrepreneurship support.” stated Rebecca. 

“What stood out to me was each participant’s enthusiasm and ability to remain motivated,” added Rebecca. “I loved how they shaped and reshaped their pitch during the program. I loved the cultural exchange and that we engaged with multilanguage groups. “ 

Women entrepreneurs are building the world of tomorrow, and we couldn’t be prouder to participate in this global process. 

– Lara Tenbarge, Program Associate 

Women and Entrepreneurship: An Inter-Regional Project  

CBM: Global Ties Sacramento 

NPA: CRDF Global 

Photo provided by Global Ties Sacremento

In October 2021, Global Ties Sacramento had the pleasure of collaborating with CRDF Global to host two virtual meetings for International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) visitors participating on a project titled “Women and Entrepreneurship.” This was an incredibly diverse group, with 32 participants representing 23 countries spanning as far west as Honduras and as far east as Turkey. The group participants included leaders of women-owned businesses, and others were from organizations supporting women’s rights in a variety of fields, ranging from medical technology companies to travel agencies to community development groups.  

Being in the capital city, Global Ties Sacramento is proud to connect visitors with California’s government leaders to learn how communities can interact with state and local governments to promote change. In their first meeting, the visitors attended a roundtable discussion with several state policymakers representing the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. The speakers led a discussion on the impact that state policy has on empowering women in the workplace, showcasing initiatives such as #EqualPayCA, an education initiative that provides training to businesses that are focusing on closing the gender pay gap. Visitors and speakers alike shared successes and challenges they have faced in the workplace, creating a strong sense of solidarity and empowering the group to look towards solutions together.  

Visitors also had a chance to meet with one of our longtime professional resources, Uptown Studios, a local marketing agency that has hosted countless visitors for workshops in the past. For the first time since the shift to virtual, we had the opportunity to convert these workshops to a digital format, offering the visitors a chance to meet with founder, Tina Reynolds. She led the group in an extensive marketing workshop that was inclusive of all industries, walking them through a three-month marketing plan, and providing resources for visitors to take back to their own teams. Tina and her team at Uptown Studios are steadfast supporters of our international exchanges and it was wonderful to provide the IVLP visitors with a unique, hands-on experience, even if it’s all virtual!  

Both meetings featured an incredible group of women who were able to not only share their experiences and brainstorm solutions, but build community across also such a diverse range of fields and countries. A few months after the program, I had the immense pleasure of meeting with one of the visitors one-on-one to connect her with additional Californian resources that could support her nonprofit work in her home country of Mexico. As someone who is newer to the Network, this was the first IVLP alumni connection I have made, and I found it so rewarding to foster new connections and showcase the long-term impact of IVLP. This project truly felt like citizen diplomacy at work and we are so thankful to the visitors, liaisons, CRDF Global, and our local community for collaborating with us on this meaningful project!   

– Alaina King, International Program Coordinator 

Women and Entrepreneurship: An Inter-Regional Project 

CBM: Gulf Coast Diplomacy 

NPA: FHI-360 

Photo provided by Gulf Coast Diplomacy. Patrick Rooney and Casey Campbell of Co:Lab Pensacola know the value of exchange in promoting economic growth and welcome in-person and virtual IVLP site visits. 

Gulf Coast Diplomacy facilitated an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) over three days in November and December 2021 for 25 professionals from Algeria, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, People’s Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. The women’s time with the Northwest Florida team focused on societal barriers, confidence-building, mentoring, and networking for women in incubators. FHI-360 was the implementing national programming agency for this virtual project.  

The Pensacola team’s favorite in-person appointments have always been those involving behind-the-scene tours and those where visitors and locals are encouraged to have informal conversations about topics of mutual interest. It is no surprise that Gulf Coast Diplomacy’s virtual programming follows a similar model. This Women in Entrepreneurship IVLP incorporated small group discussions with content-specific icebreakers tailored to the participants’ interests to help form connections between themselves and the Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast, as well as a local incubator site visit with a discussion with tenants and administrators at Co:Lab Pensacola, and an online coffee with early-career professionals. 

It is easy to see why virtual IVLPs are of such value to high performers like the participants on “Women in Entrepreneurship,” because innovators and creators, especially those juggling multiple responsibilities, lead busy lives. This project allowed international visitors to create connections, explore each other’s shortcuts, and discover favorite apps and other tools while managing their businesses in person, in real-time.   

By consciously structuring their appointments to include connection before content and using the project’s themes to create their icebreakers, this virtual project successfully moved from a collection of individuals to coalesce into a bonded group. By the end of the project, the women were such fans of their post-meeting gatherings that it was easy to imagine them on a real bus rather than spread across the globe.  

– Jena Mélançon, Executive Director