On March 7, the first edition of Connect to Success Workshops for Women Entrepreneurs was held to highlight International Woman’s Day (Sunday March 8). The Embassy’s Office of Public Affairs partnered with Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics to organize the workshops held on the School campus. The National Associations of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE), Women Entrepreneur Leaders (LIDE Mulher) and Gulbenkian also partnered in the initiative providing workshop facilitators and opened the workshops to women in their networks, as part of the 1km2 initiative, to reinvest into our local community. These practical workshops focused on providing the skills women owned businesses may need to improve and scale their businesses. The day-long series of workshops included sessions on developing a business plan, social media, personnel management, opportunities for financing through the EU’s 2020 program, and others. Approximately 200 women took part in the workshops. Among them, 50 women are participants of the Embassy’s Connect to Success program. Future workshops will be offered in other parts of the country.
In his key-note address, the Ambassador thanked Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics for organizing the event, the first of its kind in Portugal. He then discussed the importance of entrepreneurship, noting that it creates opportunity and is a key to unlocking economic growth, creating jobs, and empowering populations. The Ambassador underscored that “entrepreneurship is also part of the American culture that we can freely share across international boundaries,” and cited examples of U.S. entrepreneurs. He added that “societies that learn entrepreneurial principles can come up with solutions to local problems, and that these solutions can foster inclusiveness, grow economies, promote stability, expand the international supply chain, and spread the exchange of ideas.”
The U.S. Embassy runs numerous programs that promote economic and social entrepreneurship. The program that has achieved the greatest success and acclaim, however, is Connect to Success, an Embassy initiative designed to assist women entrepreneurs scale their businesses. The architect of the program, Kim Sawyer, the Ambassador’s wife, also delivered remarks at the opening session of the workshops. She said that “Connect to Success provides just what women generally lack in the workplace – sufficient mentors to guide women owned businesses to successfully address the many challenges faced by all businesses.” She added that “the program is comprised of four components: Corporate mentorship, MBA or business school consulting, practical workshops for women entrepreneurs, and discounted professional services, and costs nothing to participate.”
To participate in the Connect to Success program, women who own 50 percent or more and are actively involved in managing their businesses can self-register on WEConnect’s website. For more information on Connect to Success, see the program’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/connecttosuccessportugal