Irene and Nigar at iWEC
By Irene Montes
It was a cold crisp November morning when I arrived at the Berns Hotel, located in the city of Stockholm, Sweden, commonly known as the Venice of the North. This is where the 8th Annual IWEC conference was held. The topic was “ Insuring the Health of Your Business in a Global Competitive Market” . The conference was organized by the Chamber Trade Sweden and IWEC (International Women Entrepreneurial Challenge). IWEC is a project that promotes the development of international business networks for women and acknowledges women’s entrepreneurial endeavors in national and international markets, through the fostering of women’s empowerment across the globe. IWEC provides mentorships opportunities to women-owned SME’s by allowing them to learn about international business scenarios, leadership skills and competences needed to tackle international markets.
Tillsammans! Which means together in Swedish was the word that powered our conference for the following days. It was derived from the African word UBUNTU, which originated at the Cape Town 2011 conference. These words and concepts encouraged the participants to create relationships amongst each other, to expand their networks and to imagine the future possibilities ahead.
During the two day conference, we heard each of the 33 awardees present their businesses to each other. It was astonishing to see how women from different backgrounds and from high risk circumstances were able to rise above all of the problems that each of them faced. These problems had meant for some of them incredibly drastic changes in their lives that had forced them to take a leap in order to provide for their families; others had fought against prejudice of men in male powered markets. After the presentations, we were able to enjoy a series of three presentations focusing on “the Health of your Community and the World Economy”. These were all superb talks but, it was the last presentation entitled “Promoting Women’s Entrepreneurship in Complex Environments” that spoke to my soul. It was the very first time I heard about Nina Magazine.
The presentation was made by Madeleine White, Editor-in-Chief of Nina Magazine. She shared her experience of creating Nina Magazine. She also described a the profound changes that Nina Magazine has enabled for Iraqi women. Collaborative women’s empowerment has been created through the sharing of positive experiences in the country and through the diaspora. She talked about listening to voices everywhere and gave us Nina, a trailblazer and medium that has created awareness to the opportunities in Iraq. It has brought hope to Iraqi women living at home and abroad. Stories of real people and their achievements are shared through Nina, which has united one nation for a common goal, to move forward and to leave the past behind.
The talk was specifically moving to me because I am a women raised by a single mother in the city Tegucigalpa, Honduras a country in the epicenter of Central America. A country that has been plagued by violence in recent years due to corruption and drug related wars, a country that has been labeled as one of the most dangerous countries in the world even though it is not currently at war. A country where women are still subject to violent abuse. I came to Sweden as a Scholarship Awardee of the Swedish Institute to undertake a Masters Degree in Textile Management specialized in Value Chain Management at the University of Borås. One of my major non-professional related drivers is to let people know that my country Honduras is not all of that is portrayed in mainstream media, where you can’t see the really wonderful “real” people we are, the diverse ecosystems and the breathtaking sceneries it has to offer.
Nina is a milestone in the potential prosperous journey of the magazine, which has the possibility to extend its network to many countries and empower women, bringing hope to those who need it the most.
Thank you Nina Magazine.