Last week in Cairo, the Greek Campus hosted a RiseUp Summit geared at trying to encourage new entrepreneurship in the country. I helped to run a workshop on ‘Pitching and Negotiation for Women Entrepreneurs’ with two awesome women: Nina Curley from Flat6Labs Abu Dhabi and Bobbi Thomason, a doctoral candidate at Stanford University who is focusing her research on business women in leadership positions in the region.
Nina, who used to be the Editor-in-Chief of Wamda and I had talked a few months ago about collaborating on an effort to visualize women entrepreneurs that are making impacts in their community, while at the same time gathering data and trying to help these groups in the MENA region. There is very little information about this subset of entrepreneurs in the Middle East, and we wanted to see if there was a way to reach out and help them. So we got together with Bobbi Thomason, who in addition to her valuable research also teaches negotiation workshops worldwide. It was an instant collaboration formed over a quick rainy lunch in NYC, and less than a month later we all made our way to Cairo and did this workshop together!
Nina focused on pitching investors, I talked about pitching to the media, and Bobbi talked about negotiation strategies. The event was well attended, considering how little publicity we had done for it, and that confirmed something that we all had suspected — there was a definite want and need for more of this kind of workshop for women.
We did a small survey of the people who attended and came away with some interesting quick takeaways.
I’ll leave you with a few that Nina compiled:
- Less than 50% of women feel confident approaching an investor, and only 35% feel that being a woman is an advantage when it comes to getting investment.
- Women are confident about their abilities to negotiate, but still feel that they are facing institutional challenges: gender bias, challenges with responsibilities to family/culture.