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2014 VV GROW fellows participate in a networking exercise during the MENA in person training in Amman, Jordan.

Eighteen hours of webinars; eight hours of one-on-one phone calls with Vital Voices staff, peers and trainers; 20 homework assignments; and four months later, 64 VV GROW fellows are preparing to head to Mexico City, Dubai, or Cape Town for a four day business growth training.

As the Vice President of Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship, I am honored to have the opportunity to meet these incredible business leaders taking the critical steps necessary to grow their businesses and lead in their communities.

Fellows entered the VV GROW Fellowship in June and have reflected on their leadership strengths and weaknesses, examined the current state of their business, and assessed growth opportunities. Now at the in-person training, they will draft an action plan to achieve their business growth goals, while connecting with other women business owners and business professionals from their regions.

2013 VV GROW fellows work on their action plans in Accra, Ghana. 

Since 2013, my team has had the privilege to experience the positive energy and drive that fills the room when you convene innovative and ambitious women entrepreneurs. This year, I am especially looking forward to seeing the elements of the in-person training that really give the training its “unique value.”

  • Peer learning: Based on their business experience and rich diversity in backgrounds, fellows themselves have so much to offer one another. Fellows take an active role in offering each other advice on areas of their business and have even collaborated with trainers to lead sessions during the training.
  • Building support networks: It’s incredible to witness the support network that is cemented at the in-person training. In the months prior, fellows learn about each other via virtual networking facilitated by Vital Voices, but the real bonds are forged when fellows meet face to face. For many, the in-person training serves as a safe space to share successes, risks, and challenges, allowing for camaraderie to take place across borders.  
  • Growing commercial networks: Vital Voices facilitates opportunities among fellows to make strategic business connections at the local and regional levels with former fellows, other businesswomen in the Vital Voices network, and various actors in the local business community. We also link fellows with influential corporations and partners supporting women’s economic empowerment in their countries, such as the Global Founding Partner of the VV GROW Fellowship, ExxonMobil Foundation, and the Global Hotel Partner, JW Marriott Hotel & Resorts allowing fellows to engage with and learn from the expertise and unique market knowledge of corporate employees.
  • Mobilizing learnings into practice: By the in-person training, fellows have examined and refined their business strategy and growth goals. Utilizing the counsel and expertise of trainers, strategic support from Vital Voices staff, and support from other fellows, fellows test hypotheses and leave the training with a clear vision for the future of their business.

As we prepare to travel beginning next week, we encourage you to follow the three regional trainings via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #VVGROW. Fellows, staff and trainers will share their experiences, key learnings and highlights from the training.