The 1st International Conference of Women Entrepreneurs was held in Kosovo on October 28-29, 2010. The conference brought together more than 170 participants from the business community, state agencies, financial institutions, international and national organizations, prominent businesswomen, as well as representatives from national businesswomen associations from more than 13 countries from around the world. The idea for the conference was strongly endorsed at the Presidential Summit on Women Entrepreneurship held in Washington D.C. (April 25-27, 2010), where women agreed that they would work together to improve the economic situation of women entrepreneurs around the world. The idea of a conference soon received a huge interest among women business leaders in Kosovo, Europe, the USA and the Middle East. SHE-ERA Board of Directors strongly supported the idea and the project as well, indicating that they would work together with the staff of SHE-ERA to make the conference possible.
The conference in Kosovo kicked off with a video address from Ambassador Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. Ambassador Verveer identified women’s economic empowerment as critical to economic growth, but recognized that women still face many challenges when starting or expanding their businesses. She then commended the panelists and participants for their work in removing these obstacles and working towards advancing women’s economic empowerment. Ambassador Verveer was followed by Michael J. Murphy, the Deputy Chief of Mission to the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo, discussing the role and importance of women’s entrepreneurship in Kosovo.
Next, panelists, many whom are prominent businesswomen, shared their success stories and personal experiences. They described the reasons that compelled them to start their businesses, the road they had to take to get to where they are today, and the obstacles they have overcome. During their presentations, the panelists also shared many useful lessons, tips and advice. Panelists and participants also identified several obstacles to women entrepreneurship and drafted a set of policy indicators that national governments and their respective ministries, private sector support institutions, and civic interest groups can use in response to boost women’s entrepreneurship and start-up’s. The aim of the indicators is to serve as a framework for new policies that will increase women’s contribution to the economy and improve their integration in labor markets.
The conference provided an excellent platform for the exchange of experiences and good practices for further advancement of women entrepreneurs’ networks and the number of speakers and quality of presentations provided valuable insight and useful networking opportunities. To learn more about the conference, the panelists, and the policy indicators you can read the full conference report here.
Mirlinda Kusari Purrini