Thursday March 8, 2018 By: Jaylan El Shazly
The highly anticipated “She Can – 2018 ” conference took place on the first weekend in March at the Greek Campus, Downtown Cairo. The event brought together over 28 speakers and hundreds of women and men to showcase successful female entrepreneurs and listen to their experiences. Under the warm Cairo winter sun, a main stage was set up throughout the two days. Entrepreneurs, artists, activists, and scientists delivered Ted-style presentations that focused primarily on their professional journeys and the challenges they encountered in their careers.
“She Can – 2018,” was organized by Entreprenelle, a mission-driven enterprise that strives to bridge the gender gap economically by educating, training and linking women to all the resources possible. Founded by Rania Ayman in 2015, Entreprenelle has organized various “She Can” conferences to empower and motivate women to believe in their ability to change their destiny.
On the first day of the event, participants seeking inspirations to start their own projects, arrived bright and early. The diversity of the attendees was noticeable; from young students, to entrepreneurs in the early stages of their careers, to older and more experienced women who attended to learn how to become influential to the younger generation. The crowds included a number of men too.
“This event successfully supports the entrepreneurship ecosystem by bringing together current and prospective entrepreneurs in one place,” tells us Dr Souzet Elreedy, who came from Alexandria to hear about the different endeavors the speakers presented. With her own experience working with entrepreneurs for 30 years, she is organizing the Arab Youth Entrepreneurship Forum in Alexandria later this year.
Economic analyst Inas Abdallah attended with the hopes of finding an idea for a business or initiative, and was looking forward “to a boost of enthusiasm after all the speeches,” she said. While Entreprenelle is mainly a platform to empower women economically, it equally supports both genders to start a new business or develop an existing one. Karim Sayed came to the event to interact with people who can support his start-up, a rescue app that women in distress can use to request help and back-up.
It was interesting to hear how the families of the speakers had a great impact on them, either by supporting or challenging their decisions. Many had to stand up to their families to allow them pursue what they believed in. The speakers unanimously urged the audience not to listen to naysayers and to believe in themselves, even if the closest people to them didn’t. However, all speakers, without exception, pointed out their families who were there cheering them, acknowledging how nothing would have been possible without their support.
The talk given by Dr. Iman Bibars, was among the highlights of the first day. The veteran feminist and regional director for Ashoka Arab world, detailed her groundbreaking work with women since the 80s. She also drew on her personal experiences and advised the young female attendees to find the right partner who supports and is proud of them. She encouraged women not to try to do it all, “delegate, and focus on what you can do instead of what you cannot,” Bibars said.
The second day started on a high note, with a focus on women in science. Three Egyptian recipients of L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards spoke about their experiences and ambitions as they juggle their hectic research, study, and family schedules. The speeches struck a positive and inspiring tone. They also showed the true strength and power of women, especially when tested. There was not a single dry eye in the audience as cancer survivor and actress Yasmine Ghaith spoke of her battle with cancer, and how it brought with it new possibilities and dreams.
Simultaneously with these inspirational talks, workshops and a mentorship corner were held throughout the two days. Experienced professionals offered guidance, advice and mentorship to young entrepreneurs about various topics, including idea generation, project management, funding, tips to get their ideas off the ground and issues women face in the workplace.
“I have some ideas for projects I can do, and I joined the idea generation workshop. It really helped give me a plan to follow, in order to see my ideas become projects. I am very happy I came,” explained Hoda Farouk, an experienced school teacher from Helwan who attended at the recommendation of her niece.
What makes “She Can” truly remarkable is their commitment in creating an inclusive environment. They accomplish that through the diversity of the speakers, as well as becoming geographically inclusive. Last year, Entreprenelle held “She Can” events in Alexandria and Mansoura. Building on the success of these events, they have plans to reach and empower more women across the country; to taste the spirit of enthusiasm that was evident throughout their past weekend event.
Check out Entreprenelle’s Facebook page here
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