Social Strategy in Global Context

Perspective is thrown at me like a rocket.  Next week I fly to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to present a workshop on Social Strategy for Women Entrepreneurs.  For those of us from developed and highly connected countries (myself living in Sweden), let me put this into context. According to the Internet World Statistics, Ethiopia has the lowest rate of Internet and Mobile penetration in the world (0.4% of 28 Million people).  There is one national telecom provider, ETC, which politically filters ( censors) content.  The GNI per capita (annual individual income) is $280 (no, it is not missing a zero). 
That said, there is a concerted effort to create change and leapfrog growth via access to knowledge, education and new business through the Internet.  They are making strides in privatizing the telecommunications and building up infrastructure.  CyberEthiopia reports on progress and access such as IT programs at the universities and companies are gaining momentum.  These people are thirsty for knowledge and the desire to connect.  

I am very excited about this opportunity to learn from them and to share what knowledge and tools that I can to help them in their journey.  My greatest challenge is to provide context within realistic means for their achieving their goals.  My workshop will begin with the importance of strategy and “base social rules” for engagement.  The sections are as follows:

CULTIVATE, CLARITY, CONTEXT, COMMUNICATE, COOPERATE, CO-CREATE

The advantage they have is to not get caught up in the latest and greatest app or widget (which quite frankly is refreshing, teaching twitter is not really what strategy is about).  We can focus on the most essential tools and elements of strategy that cultivate a business that is prime for whatever social tools they can gain access to.

I look forward to writing more on this experience after my return. What are your ideas with how we can influence change and help them succeed in their efforts to leapfrog to catch up?

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Entrepreneurs on twitter

This is a response to a tweet from Furqan Nazeeri (@altgate) listing 67 entrepreneurs on twitter. I am afraid I am not very good at limiting myself in 140 characters, so I decided to write him an email and share it with my readers. I responded to his post as there were no women on his list. Naturally he responded asking for suggestions. In an effort to respond, I realised, yet again, that their presence is greatly lacking. I referred @ariannahuff, @maggiefox, @charleneli, @adrianne and @connectedwomen based on their quality of interactions.

Two things stood out to me. I am curious if others have seen these trends as well. Note: these are observations, not judgements, and very generalised. The first is that women entrepreneurs often focus on coaching and soft skills, leading to small businesses that don’t dare to think big. If they are on twitter they use it as a social update tool only or references to their own services only (which doesn’t encourage others to follow them). If this is the type of interaction, I can see why they might consider it a time drain without much ROI. I guess there is a lot of work to be done.

The other trend I observe here is that twitter is still perceived very much an American toy to the rest of the world. I looked through my list of who I follow (keep in mind I only follow based on context of social media optimisation and social entrepreneurship) and the vast majority were US west coast based. Some of the women entrepreneurs that I thought would be an obvious hit in terms of twitter, didn’t have a presence at all (ie. Julie Meyer of Ariadne Capital and Stina Honkamaa of Google Sweden, link in Swedish) or they only had a social one.

Entrepreneurs need to capture, listen and interact with their audience. If done effectively, participating on twitter with a strategy as part of overall strategy, will have a positive ROI. Twitter etiquette by Julie Niesen is a good place to start. The playing field is level, let’s keep it that way. Thanks Furqan for sparking the question. I will continue my quest to support and share the stories of those who are succeeding as well as to encourage best practice for those who’ve just begun. Please feel free to send me ideas.

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Eve-olution a note to the future

We connected the dots. Nancy Gomez, founder of Eve-olution, and I found ourselves nodding in agreement over a delightful hour of conversation. How can I help you to succeed? Connecting to the individual with purpose and the right attitude makes a great difference. There are the few gems, and she is one. I am glad she sought me out at the Global Summit for Women in Korea last Spring. I feel blessed to have connected to so many inspiring women who fuel passion for my work. We share a common view on the future and the importance of building bridges for mutual benefit and knowledge sharing.

Eve-olution, connects entrepreneurs in developing countries with coaches to take their businesses to the next level globally whereupon they reciprocate through coaching. Beautiful. Six years and they have done some amazing things. We share the passionate belief that THIS is the era of the entrepreneur and specifically the global woman entrepreneur. Having a positive outlook in this time of “crisis” is simple when you look at the impact these women have had through applying their passion for making change. Building awareness of these efforts is critical in this time as they will have the potential to create change. Keep up the great work.

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Entrepreneurs will lead Economic Recovery

An inspiring report from the Asian Development Bank “Entrepreneurship and e-Business Development for Women” on the impact of women entrepreneurs on the global economy. Watch out here they come.

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The Right Attitude


This is a beautiful depiction of the right attitude to make change happen. Entrepreneurial women are the core for change. We need to support them near and far. Thank you Gloria Uwizera for your “Why now” and “Can do” attitude. Keep it up and keep it spreading.

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Hello Africa

Our partnerships with International women’s organisations and networks as well as NGOs make it clear that Africa is open for business. I have been speaking directly with women entrepreneurs and professionals that are doing amazing things and are looking for new markets both inside and outside of Africa. Their optimism and energy is astounding. Take a new perspective, look for new opportunities. 2BalanceU will provide them a platform with a level playing field for bringing their visions to fruition.

Africa is not alone. Women around the world are creating businesses and helping existing businesses flourish in a changing global marketplace. Supplying the tools the need without wasting their time and pulling them in yet another direction is a good start. Thanks to great organisations like BPW-International and FCEM and of course one cannot forget the phenomenal efforts by UNHCR and other NGOs change is happening. But there is more we can do and it begins with knowledge sharing and building a collective intelligence; a giant searchable library with a librarian that knows our needs. We can make this happen.

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Congratulations Christina Domecq!

Congratulation Christina Domecq, CEO of SpinVox for recognition of your work to make voice to text technology by the World Economic Forum, Wall Street Journal’s `10 Women to Watch` in EMEA and the ‘Top 35 Business Women under 35’ by Management Today. Nice going. And thank you for working on yet another wonderful and much needed technology to simplify our busy lives. Thank you Christina for your integrity and passion to continue to make authentic communication a global priority. Kudos!

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FCEM Congress in Brussels

Meeting women entrepreneurs from around the world is always inspiring for me. This time around the feeling was a renewed sense of energy and positive outlook. The global financial crisis was unable to cast a shadow on the passion of these women. The opportunities that arise from change are embraced, rather than shied away from. I was honored speak with the founding president of honor, Madame Armand Dutry. Her presence and warmth was felt by all that she interacted with. She should be proud of the women from all corners of the globe that assembled to support each other and FCEM.

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Balance Revisited

After a weekend in Singapore in between conferences, I feel refreshed and recovered. I am practicing my mahjong skills and delighting in all the fresh sights and sounds and tastes unfamiliar. And yet, when I pick up the paper, I see the same stories around the globe: “Help Professional Women Retrain to Rejoin the Workforce,” “The Smart Way to Do it All,” “Women Leaders Need Support,””More Women with Professional Degrees than Men,” “Weren’t We Supposed to be Beyond This By Now?”… These were headlines for articles in Singapore, Korea and Shanghai, and Europe.

Ladies, rest assured, you are not alone in your struggle and we are doing what we can to bring you together for knowledge sharing as knowledge is power. As Angela Yip, a talented artist and entrepreneur in Chinatown, helped me express my vision, I will do my best to help you express yours by creating the portal to knowledge and each other that will empower you to be the best you can be.

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Women in Rwanda rise and inspire

Once again I am inspired and awestruck by the power of women rising together in the spirit of sharing and survival. This video on the entrepreneurial spirit of women thriving despite their conditions fuels my passion for growing 2Balanceu and ensuring it is available for all women around the world. By supporting women as family, community and business builders, change can happen. By connecting these women to distributors in need of their goods, we can all be part of change. Thank you ladies for providing such a positive example.

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