The Women in Business project, a successful beginning

During our last virtual meeting I was telling you how entrepreneurial spirit, together with my personality, a mix which proved both fortunate but also challenging and exhausting, modelled my first business initiatives. I promised you than that I would tell you the story of the Women in Business project, which, first of all, offered me the satisfaction to bring real added value in the career path of many extraordinary women, with fascinating stories and strong opinions. But, more than that, Women in Business has helped me grow, has helped me discover new perspectives from which I could approach the business universe, and understand how entrepreneurial spirit and femininity can go together in perfect synergy.

Women in Business was born in 2009 when the economic crisis was beginning to creep its way into Romania. It was a very difficult period for all of us, especially for those of my generation – which were educated during the transition period, when the principles of capitalism were just taking roots. Most players on the market were not ready to tackle the atypical situations they were facing, and Romanian entrepreneurs, who formed a rather young social group, took a hard blow.  This is how things were at the moment when I decided ‘to step up’ - without necessarily being aware of the gravity of the overall situation - I think nobody did at that time. I felt, first of all, the need to share the problems I faced with other people who resonated with my situation, the purpose of it all being to have a constructive exchange of ideas and experience. In addition, as I was coming from a mainly masculine environment, I wanted to know the feminine perspective on the business. I decided to tackle the ‘economic crisis’ not with fear, but with the desire to evolve and with the curiosity to discover ‘others’ in the same situation. It is not a cliché, I strongly believed then, and I still believe that each problem offers the opportunity of a solution and, implicitly, the opportunity to gain new experience; and when these experiences, coming from people with similar principles, values and objectives, are openly communicated, all the people involved will only have something to gain by sharing them. Ergo: ‘women in business’. It is not by chance that our group adopted this identity, and not the much more common one ‘business women’ - because the idea was to bring together diverse experiences from women from the business environment, not just entrepreneurs, but also ladies working in companies, or those who have chosen liberal careers.

The first step was to create a LinkedIn group – but the second step became a necessity very soon: although our network started with just a few members, or perhaps it was for this exact reason, we all felt the need of a more direct, more personal, more intense interaction. This is why, shortly after set up, we decided to meet face-to-face. Our meetings were very well structured, following a model of dialogue based on our common goal to make contacts and develop professional relationships, to receive professional advice on certain issues. The news of the ‘socializing get-togethers’ travelled fast and the coffee shops and tea houses soon became too small for our needs, our voices felt the need to be heard. Thus the business networking events, the first online platform dedicated to women in business, the first international conference of our organization, but also other ‘premieres’. Just to give you a relevant example that can describe the magnitude of the Women in Business phenomenon, today, five years since our the first step, but also after 100 business networking events, the LinkedIn group – where it all started – has almost 2500 members.

There are many more things to be said about the merits of our organization, many initiatives, many projects, many successes – and by that I mean mainly the professional relations which have been created, the resources which have been shared and the relations among the members of the Women in Business community. Now, as I come closer to the end of this new chapter behind the story of ALISIA ENCO, I realise that the multitude of positive feelings connecting me to all the years I spent developing the community of Women in Business cannot be expressed in just a few words. This is why I promise that I will come soon with a different perspective on my involvement in the organization  - the core perspective  of work and sacrifices which made this project worthwhile, a project created by women for women, but also with the story of all the changes Alice has gone through during this project. Meanwhile, do not forget to follow us on social media and, if you haven’t done it so far, subscribe to the ALISIA ENCO newsletter. 

Alice Botnarenco