The U.S. Embassy and the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD) promoted a series of “Connect to Success” workshops for women entrepreneurs, between October 7 and 10, in the Azores. Connect to Success founded by the U.S. Embassy, in partnership with FLAD, aims to support women-owned businesses and promote gender equality in the corporate world. The program already has close to 700 registered women entrepreneurs, in which 100 of those are from the Azores. IBM Portugal, a strong partner of Connect to Success from the very beginning, is also responsible for bringing the initiative to the Azores.
During two days in Terceira and two days in São Miguel, free practical workshops, focusing on topics essential for entrepreneurship were offered. Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics, SDEA (Azores Corporate Development Society), EBAN (European Business Angels Network) along with Cork Bic, IBM Portugal, and ISCTE Business School were the facilitators of these workshops on both islands. Workshops included “Developing a Business Plan”, “EU funding”, “Obtaining Investment from Business Angels”, “Basics of Marketing and Social Media”, and “Negotiation Techniques”. The University of the Azores (in Angra do Heroismo, and Ponta Delgada), also supporters of this initiative, hosted the workshops in its facilities.
U.S. Ambassador Robert Sherman, who spoke in the closing session of the workshops, also highlighted the importance of being confident in one’s skills. Ambassador Sherman also noted that in the United States, there is “a ‘do it yourself’ spirit, and a belief that there are no limits to what we can achieve. We saw this when we sent a man to the moon…” Kim Sawyer, entrepreneur and the wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Portugal and who is also responsible for promoting this initiative, participated in the opening conference of this event and explained that “if you don’t have a background in business, you don’t know the most basic things. How to do accounting, for example, or how to draft a business plan or how to market your product. So there are some very basic practical skills that a lot of women who are out there trying to start businesses don’t yet have.” She adds that “what’s very important to gain from this kind of program is the self-confidence, and being confident in your abilities and what you can do. Because the reality is, if you don’t have confidence, if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect somebody else to believe in you and buy your services and products?” “It is important for women to support each other and create partnerships,” she added.