Guest post by Chema Gargouri, Country Director, WES-Tunisia.
After one year and a half of training and coaching to empower women entrepreneurs in six regions across Tunisia, the WES centers are shifting towards becoming “multi-sectoral” associations that not only promote the access of women to professional training, teach them entrepreneurial principles, facilitate their access to credit and professional training but also enhance their role as a social power with a greater interest to become more active in politics. Thanks to the regional networks that each WES partner organization has developed, the WES centers are also providing unique spaces where women can discover the force of feminine solidarity.
As a way to reinforce the “women to women” support, WES established a partnership with the Tunisian business association, the Tunisian National Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs (CNFCE), to liaise successful entrepreneurs from CNFCE chapters with WES graduates in the six regions where the WES centers are located. This “marriage” of experienced, successful businesswomen with younger women entrepreneurs who have just started in business is very important. Providing the right “mentor” and “mentorship” is one of the ways to help women entrepreneurs deal with challenges- technical and psychological, that women in a country like Tunisia could face. Solitude, social pressure, discouragement, and negative critics are among the few challenges that woman entrepreneurs commonly face before launching a project. In addition to accessing funding as well as the required training to prepare for her carear as a businesswoman, our young women entrepreneurs need to develop a strong personality to succeed in a male-dominated sector men. The presence of a successful businesswoman as a guide, advisor, a reference, and expert in any of the younger women entrepreneurs business lives is crucial for the development of the required skills and confidence needed to take the risk to develop a business and keep it running.
This partnership between CNFCE and WES is thus aimed at making the feminine solidarity shift from being a slogan to an action. There will never be any changes in our social patterns if women do not support women. Matching mentors from CNFCE with our mentees from the WES centers is also creating a social and economic dynamic in each region with the message that promoting women in business in also an integral part of promoting women’s rights.