This week was all about the grand finale of the fourth edition of the Women in Business Challenge (WIBC). Last Sunday we welcomed our finalists, five inspiring women, Lauren Thomas (Mozambique), Dr. Nene Sanjeevani(India), Paola de la Rosa, Jazmin Chi (Mexico) and Affiong Williams (Nigeria) at Amsterdam airport. They had a full week with training sessions, meetings and the final award ceremony hosted at the ING headquarters yesterday, 12th September 2013.
On Monday we kick-started the program with a Ready 4 Finance training during which the finalists were explained the several financial options for their companies and how to pitch their ideas to investors in a two-minute elevator pitch. Tuesday and Wednesday were dedicated to business-2-business meetings, a pitch event for investors and the interviews with the WIBC jury. The women entrepreneurs visited like-minded organisations, potential business partners, investors and tried to convince our jury of their business plan potential. Accompanied by their “buddies” they travelled the country to meet with for example De Fietsfabriek, Nutland B.V., Noordhoff Uitgevers,Yumeko and an expert in mobile clinics. Furthermore, 4 of the entrepreneurs met with a EY consultant for a financial consultancy during which the investment plans of the entrepreneurs were discussed in detail.
Final Event at ING
So far it was a very interesting week with promising networking moments. However, it was clear that the women came to the Netherlands with one goal; winning the competition. Yesterday, the Final Event took place at the headquarters of our main partner in this competition; ING. The event was moderated by founder and director of the BiD Network Foundation, Thierry Sanders, who welcomed Fleur Hudig, Community Investment Manager at ING, to the stage to officially open the event. She spoke about why women and entrepreneurship are so important for the ING bank and why ING is so dedicated to support the Women in Business Challenge. Fleur’s opening speech was followed by Hannah Schiff of Value for Women. She gave a very interesting presentation on the recent research on Women led-enterprises in emerging markets. The question and answering round about the research tells us that we will definitely hear more about it after the official presentation on October 1st. So stay tuned for the video to learn about the main findings of the research. After Hannah it was up to Marcel Neutel, Senior Investment Manager at ICCO, to tell about the recently launched ICCO Investment fund. ‘Marcel recognized many of the points raised by Hannah and expressed the wish to increase the number of investments in women-led enterprises. So there is definitely potential for our finalists. During our panel discussion, two Dutch women entrepreneurs, Pauline Wesseling (O My Bag) and Manon De Bruin (ManonJuliette) shared their stories about how they are running a successful growing business at the moment and how BiD Network and theOndernemen Zonder Grenzen competition supported them in this. A good motivator for our five ladies that had to pitch in front of the audience once more to convince the jury. After very positive feedback from the jury members it was finally time to announce the winner.
And the winner is…
Thierry tricked the audience by announcing the ING coach that supported the winner during the competition before announcing the actual number one. When Marc-Antoine Delforge was called to the stage it was no longer a secret that Affiong Williams was the winner of the Women in Business Challenge 2012-2013. Her market based approach; innovative thinking and dedicated enthusiasm were what convinced the jury to grant the 5000 Euro prize money, raised by Happietaria, to her business plan REEL Fruits.
A short interview on stage with her coach and Affiong proved once more that the ING coaches, and coaches in general of course, are of high added value for the entrepreneurs. We celebrated the end of a successful week with a networking cocktail during which even more business took place.
We would like to thank all the attendees for coming and ING, ICCO, United Success, DOB Foundation, FMO for their support. We will follow our five finalists in the upcoming months and support them in finding the right financial match. We will keep you updated!