VV GROW in Amman
After months of anticipation, I was so excited to meet the 26 women entrepreneurs, representing 11 countries from the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), at the welcome dinner for the VV GROW Fellowship MENA Training Program in Amman, Jordan on Saturday, October 26. These innovative and energetic entrepreneurs have gathered in Amman for four intensive days of training and networking to build their skills as business owners and leaders, expand their personal and professional networks, and share ideas and experiences to promote business growth and increased women’s economic participation in MENA.
From the moment of arrival, the MENA Fellows immediately began networking and exploring opportunities to collaborate as businesswomen. They recognized the wealth of experience and expertise each Fellow has to offer to one another and are poised to tap into each other’s strengths.
Training Program Sessions and Discussions
The training program commenced with sessions focused on the intertwined relationship between leadership and business planning. Vital Voices staff, trainers and business experts facilitated discussions around the Vital Voices Leadership Model, and its application for business growth in particularly challenging political, social and economic contexts.
In a discussion facilitated by Vital Voices CEO Alyse Nelson, VV network members Hanan Saab of Lebanon (Founder, Pharmamed),Tamara Abdel-Jaber of Jordan (Founder and CEO, Palma), Arije Al Amad of Jordan (Deputy Chief Executive Officer, ConsultUS), and Manal Zraiq of Palestine (Partner, Massar Associates) shared experiences of leading and growing a business through times of adversity. The speakers elaborated on leadership characteristics they identified as most critical in leading a business through times of crisis. “Empathy is not a weakness,” said Hanan Saab. “It is the added value of women leaders.” Tamara Abdel-Jaber continued the discussion by advising the VV GROW Fellows on building a strong team to serve as a support system: “Employees help me do things I cannot do myself.”
|VV Global Leadership Awards Honorees Manal Zraiq and Arije Al Amad join Alyse Nelson and four other MENA VV Network women for a panel discussion focused on leading businesses during adversity. When asked by Alyse to share one piece of final advice to GROW Fellows, Arije Al Amad said: “Never stop learning.”
Day Two: Leveraging Technology and Online Marketing
Day two of the training focused on topics such as Understanding Your Market, with an interactive lunch session focused on leveraging technology to enable business growth. Experts Widad el Hanafi, Laith Kassis, Zaid Farekh, Rania Ghosheh Al Jaber and Omamah Sarayrah discussed the power of online marketing, shared tips on leveraging online tools and offered ongoing support to the Fellows over lunch. In his parting words to the Fellows, Laith Kassis acknowledged the difficulties women entrepreneurs face in the MENA region, but noted the two great equalizers of education and technology as powerful tools of growth.
Fellows Serve As Professional Resources to One Another
In addition to the expertise offered by the trainers and business experts, the Fellows themselves serve as resources to one another, continually offering their professional expertise. During a session focused on growth management, Basma Abdallah Uraiqat of Jordan shared tips on choosing the right people for the right job. She astutely pointed out that “Just because your employee is good does not mean she is good at everything.”
Throughout the training Fellows are guided to apply their learning to a practical action plan, allowing them to return to their businesses with a roadmap to implement changes to ultimately foster long-term growth. The program will conclude on Wednesday, October 30, with a final reception in which Fellows will have the opportunity to formally practice their business pitches and receive feedback from Vital Voices partners and business experts from Amman. It is Vital Voices’ sincere hope that when the Fellows return home, they bring with them the tools, knowledge and network to grow their businesses and ultimately amplify their positive impact on their communities.
Read the introduction to the VV GROW Jordan program here.
Photo at top: The 26 MENA Fellows take a break from intensive training for a group photo with the Vital Voices staff and training team. Gallery below.