Thursday July 27, 2017
By: Jaylan El Shazly
Undeterred by the blazing July sun, some 200 women gathered at the Greater Cairo Library to participate in ‘She Can 2017’, an event organized by Entreprenelle. A mission driven enterprise that strives to empower local women economically, Enreprenelle organized this event to bring together women who push their limits and want to develop themselves as future leaders and entrepreneurs.
The event started at 11:00 am and continued till 5:00 pm. Its agenda consisted of thirteen short talks, a panel discussion that offered feedback on what is required to start up a business, as well as networking breaks throughout the day.
As a participant, perhaps the first thing you notice at this event is the sheer diversity of the attendees; from young teenaged women looking for inspiration to mothers strapping their babies onto their shoulders and getting to work; from women with affluent backgrounds to those struggling hard to better their prospects. There was even a handful of men who attended and listened to short speeches given by women about starting their successful business ventures.
Egypt is a place where your life is very different depending on your address, and the myriad of speakers was a testament to that. Eman El Amir spoke of her passion for traveling, and her uphill battle to find the means to travel and to convince her family to allow her to pursue her dream. She recounted her travels to over 33 countries in 7 years. Her talk left part of the audience resolved to find a way to see the world like she did. The other part was left pondering just how much of the opportunities they’ve experienced were taken for granted.
Rania Seddik gave us a glimpse on her life between LA and Cairo as she tries to revive traditional Egyptian craftsmanship, while Manal Rostom, joined us from Dubai to talk about her group ‘Surviving Hijab’ and her work with Nike to provide sports clothing to veiled women.
Yet despite the different lives these women lead, they all nodded in agreement as Yasmine Madkour, a coach and anti-abuse activist, recounted the ‘all too familiar stories’ of self-doubt and how it deters women from achieving their goals. And when Nihal Hamada, founder of the Make-up talk, spoke of her challenges to be acknowledged for her contributions and skills, not her gender, many smiled as they recalled similar difficulties.
It was clear that whether they wore a sundress or a ‘Abaya’, whether they were young college students or mothers, and whether they grew up in LA, Dubai or Shobra, the women in this gathering were connected in more ways than meets the eye.
We spoke with Heba Selim, an accessories designer, who came to the event looking for a support group to give her the strength she needed to cope with the skeptics of her ability to succeed. The young entrepreneur found comfort in meeting others who face similar challenges and frustrations like hers. She walked away from this event resolved to persevere and see her business through to success.
Lamiaa and her friend Mona, two young university students we spoke to, stumbled on the event through a friend. And since they are both interested to start their own businesses, joined this event hoping to learn from the successes and challenges of the speakers.
And finally, we talked with a young dental student who came looking for inspiration after a stressful exam period. She told us how she felt that the speakers were talking directly to her, helping her figure out her plans and dreams in life.
In the end, in a powerful moment during an inspirational talk by the brilliant speaker Radwa Rashad, founder of Cherry Digital & Content Boutique, all women in attendance united together and took an oath to continue their pursuit of success, and not give into the doubtful voices however loud they may be.
It is not over yet! Over the next few weeks, Entreprenelle is organizing several She Can workshops in different locations around Cairo, to help women develop event planning and presentation skills as well as sessions to get support in starting different careers. Details on these workshops can be found on their Facebook page.
*Photos courtesy of Entreprenelle
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