Faced with gender inequality at nearly every turn, female-owned businesses are oftentimes forced to prove that they are worthy and just as capable as male-owned businesses. We ladies can influence other ambitious females to reach for their own dreams. Not only do we have the power to enhance the workforce, we are a motivational drive, inspiring the rest of us to follow our dreams. We all know that women are stronger together.
Ines Gafsi, co-founder of Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide (FEW), is one woman who accomplished and is still enacting her big dreams. FEW is an international business platform that assists women with realizing their aspirations, unleashing their talented capabilities, and further developing their interests. With such a thriving community surrounded by so many unlimited potentials, Gafsi shares her valuable insight on overcoming self-doubts and flourishing in the business world as a striving, confident female entrepreneur.
Nana Asia: What was your inspiration behind Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide?
Ines Gafsi: I co-founded FEW with my business partner Anna Wong because we both felt there was no platform focusing on supporting women who have the ambition to start a business – especially five years ago. We knew there were many barriers to launch and run a sustainable and successful company. We focus on saving our members the time and money of the learning curve that is needed when you start up by providing them resources and connections with trusted advisors, mentors, investors, and role models. We work with our partners to provide them services that respond to their needs at every step of their entrepreneurial journey. Our community grows bigger every year across Asia and the world. There is now a place where you can meet mentors and peers to inspire you for success; you are no longer alone in pursuit of your dreams.
Nana Asia: How have women evolved in the workforce?
Ines Gafsi: Women may hesitate to start a business usually for fear of financial insecurity and a lack of role models and mentors; some may have self-doubt, lack of confidence, and do not believe in their own capabilities. We also found some women may not aim to secure investment funding for their business idea and run a rather small operation, self-funding as a solo entrepreneur. This can be a good approach at the start when you look into validating your business idea on the market, but a lot of these type of businesses unfortunately struggle to be sustainable in the long run.
We encourage our members to gain knowledge, save enough capital before starting up, and, of course, dream bigger to have a scalable approach of business to attract investors. Men, on the other hand, have a more aggressive approach to business and benefit from an existing male-dominated culture of business-owning credibility and easier access to capital. However, this is not true for everyone, and both women and men encounter various challenges on their business journey. We should not make general statements and should encourage both genders to support each other. We always welcome men and many join FEW to support the rise of female entrepreneurs, providing knowledge and financial support. Women are more and more represented in different fields of business and bringing a lot of innovations – the future is brighter!
Nana Asia: What are some barriers that you faced before achieving success in your field? How did you overcome them?
Ines Gafsi: When we started, we did not envision straight away that FEW would become an international business platform. Our ambition to help women to succeed has not changed, but the ways we operate have evolved. We used to run over 40 events per year between seminars, conferences, and masterclasses – members of our community are very active and always benefit a lot from these meetings. However, with the global changes that COVID-19 is bringing, we have to reinvent ourselves and digitalise our services with livestreams featuring experts to answers our members’ business-related questions, inspirational videos with successful female role models on our YouTube channel, and many online resourcesfor their personal and professional growth. Keep innovating and being adaptable is key for business success.
Nana Asia: What are some ways we (as women) can help other women on a more personal level?
Ines Gafsi: Women are often insecure which can prevent us from fully supporting each other and instead compete with each other. We should never turn our back to opportunities to support each other, be open, and share knowledge. What goes around comes around. We are stronger together!