- Natalia Cediel, Sara Mba Costa and Lola Bordás were the participants in this roundtable.
- The meeting focused on the current state of women’s leadership, entrepreneurship and the need for role models in the business sector.
Fuerteventura, 11.11.2022. From the 7th to 11th of November, the “Women Impact Summit” took place, with the participation of the Interreg Afrimac 2 project, which also participates in the “Women StartUp Europe Awards – Special Edition Fuerteventura”, an initiative organised by Finnova. The online event has hosted five days of presentations, lectures, training, panels and networking opportunities.
The conference aimed to share knowledge on how to address the economic opportunities and initiatives offered by government institutions, private organisations and regional leaders that focus on women. To this end, the conference organisers considered the need for women from all over the world to participate in the conference. Executives, businesswomen, companies and institutions have come together to seek new proposals and approaches to reduce the gap that still exists in business leadership and entrepreneurship.
Lola Bordás, CMO of Finnova Foundation and head of “Womenfortech in the area of entrepreneurship and female empowerment of Finnova, has been responsible for moderating one of the roundtables that have been organized”. Natalia Cediel and Sara Mba Costa participated in it. Bordás’s experience in the world of communication and entrepreneurship has allowed her to lead this meeting and contribute her experience to the participants. She decided to become involved and participate in women’s entrepreneurship projects following her decision to create her project. There she became aware of the latent need for women to be able to count on support and the necessary impulse to be able to materialise their business ideas, and that is how “Womenfortech” was born. In addition, Bordás also has an association called “Fundadoras”, from where she offers advice to women entrepreneurs.
The roundtable event focused on three main axes: the Gender Equality Strategy 2025, which aims to eliminate gender gaps and achieve equal participation in different jobs; the second axis was the current state of female entrepreneurship and the gap that still exists between genders; and finally, STEAM subjects were discussed and the differences that still exist in the sector and the existence of female referents in it.
The participants of the panel discussion were: Natalia Cediel, who has an international academic education with studies in different universities of different countries, and with work experience in the European Commission as a member of Josep Borrell’s office and in other European organisations such as Finnova, where she held the position of Communication and International Cooperation Officer; and the second participant was Sara Mba Costa, current Project Manager and Senior Key Account Manager at Grupo Martínez Abolafio, and with three university master’s degrees and her experience in the business and diplomatic world, she is currently in charge of managing the portfolio of suppliers in the retail, wholesale and tourism channels, executing strategic actions for the evolution of sales and creating action plans to acquire new market shares in Africa.
As Natalia affirmed, the European institutions are currently promoting numerous projects that focus on women, and female entrepreneurship is also one of the priorities for the European Union.
Always bearing in mind the “organic references”, which are family, friends and the closest environment, who often, even if they do not work in this field, can be a very important source of inspiration, the lack of women leaders must be highlighted. There are more and more of them, but there is still a long way to go.
Sara, for her part, wanted to be a leader in the supply chain sector. She could not find mentors, so she decided to become one herself, and went into the diplomatic world to create opportunities in the sector for other people like herself.
Sara said that “at the international level, there are now more women in leadership positions and from an African women’s perspective, the gap is closing, but there is still work to be done”.
It is very important to acquire the skills necessary to perform certain jobs. This is an aspect that the European Union considers indispensable, as the “European Year of Skills” will be celebrated in 2023. In terms of academic training, it is necessary to keep up with the constant retraining that is necessary in the sector. Interpersonal skills are also crucial. Women, as Sara said, “tend to have more submissive profiles due to the social structure in which we find ourselves, but in private they have brilliant ideas and solutions”, hence the need to acquire these skills from an early stage.
Natalia added the need for “self-knowledge” to reach positions of responsibility. She conducted research with women from different countries and concluded that it is important to know oneself and the environment around us, including the natural environment. Sustainability is fundamental in the international business arena. Women entrepreneurs are putting social and environmental issues first in their projects. However, this brings with it more obstacles: the unconventionality of their businesses and what this entails, such as the difficulty of finding funding.
In short, we must continue to make progress on the milestones achieved in women’s leadership, and continue to support women in the search for resources to carry out their projects because they are more inclusive, more empowered leaders with more empathetic relationships.
The Startup Europe Awards (SEUA) is an initiative driven by the European Commission, supported by the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament and implemented by the Finnova Foundation in collaboration with StartUp Europe. It is an open innovation tool that allows companies to identify talented startups capable of solving today’s challenges in multiple areas. Its mission is to help Startups and Scaleups become more efficient, smarter and more successful. These awards are a useful tool to promote knowledge sharing, add value to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and help startups to grow and position themselves in the market.
About AFRIMAC 2
AFRIMAC 2 (www.afrimac.org) is a program for business, technological, entrepreneurial and innovative exchange in areas of high economic impact between the Canary Islands and West Africa. The main objective is to improve the internationalisation of companies in the cooperation area through the creation of networks and the generation of a knowledge environment with a gender focus.
About Woman Impact Summit (WIS)
Woman Impact Summit (www.womanimpactsummit.com) is an international initiative that aims to exchange ideas to address economic opportunities generated by government institutions, private sectors and regional leaders working on women-focused initiatives.
Woman Impact Summit is possible thanks to the collaboration of the organisers and sponsors: PROEXCA, the Government of the Canary Islands, Africa’s house, Town hall of Fuerteventura, Heroikka, the US Embassy in Spain, and Afissio.
Women For Tech is the Finnova Foundation’s initiative to support innovation, disruptive projects and public-private partnerships for women. They support different projects such as Finnova-Technovation Girls Challenges to promote STEAM careers in young people or projects to promote female entrepreneurship.
Finnova Foundation is a foundation working for the promotion and development of innovation and entrepreneurship at the EU level. Based in Brussels, it operates through collaborations and partnerships in all EU countries. Finnova’s expertise in leading European project communication and dissemination activities is combined with a strong proven track record in start-ups and business support programs, such as accelerators, incubators and selection and award ceremonial events.