WEConnect International Certification: Deriving Value for the Future
Jennifer Classen is the founder and owner of Ngaphaya Y2K10 (meaning BEYOND 2010), a sourcing and procurement company focusing on specialized, customized and technically complex products. Ngaphaya Y2K10 is a Proudly South African 100% Black Women-Owned business with 11 employees.
Before starting her business in 2008, Classen held an executive position within a South Africa blue chip Retailer. In her last position she developed businesses within the franchise arena in various African countries, as well as locally.
After 27 years in corporate, Classen traded her corporate ‘hat’ for an ‘entrepreneurial’ one. Her passion for people and product has been the inspiration for her own business.
Sarah Davis MCIOB MIoD | Bedford, UK
In August 2015, WEConnect International raffled off two free tickets to the 2015 Global WIL Economic Forum in Abu Dhabi among interested certified women’s business enterprises. Sarah Davis – Owner of Skills4Stem Ltd., a UK-based Global Skills and Succession Planning Consultancy with a focus within Science Technology, Engineering and Maths sectors – jumped at the opportunity, and luckily for her, her name was drawn at random for a slot.
Attending the conference has paid off well for Sarah and her team. Excellence Training recently agreed to be an Agent for Skills4Stem in Dubai, and Sarah is hoping to leverage new connections with Naseba, Youshala, and the UAE Ministry of Education, as well.
“We are growing our business in the UAE and I was interested in how the conference could help us network in this region with senior women. It is too early to say, the event was only just over three months ago, but all these new connections I anticipate will make a big difference to our existing business in the UAE.”
The experience in Abu Dhabi was also educational and may have provided Sarah with new models to expand her business even further internationally. For example, Sarah has seen how much Skills4Stem have to offer agents outside the UK and hopes to learn from her contract with Excellence Training so she and her team can start working with agents in China and the U.S. Meanwhile, her talks with the Ministry of Education has shown Sarah that governments outside the UK value a UK innovator’s ideas and want to be connected to SMEs who can add value and innovation.
Madelaine Artavia Sotela | Founder | Costa Rica
Madelaine Artavia Sotela founded Arquenz Architecture in 2002, after graduating as an architectural drafter. Studying architecture had been a challenge, as she needed to support her son, so she started doing architectural drawings at home. Then, a client to whom she had made a model and drawing plans asked if she would build the house that she had drawn. She was surprised, but took the risk of starting her own construction business.
“I had never run a project on my own, but I had the experience of having worked with my father, who was a construction supervisor and taught me much of the work as a child,” says Madelaine. “My passion for my work comes from those childhood memories.”
Madelaine started her business and kept studying architecture with many difficulties along the way. Between work and raising her son, it was not until 2012 that she managed to earn her architect diploma. From that moment, though, her company has grown and she and her team have seized many opportunities. Some of these opportunities have come through WEConnect International.
Madelaine Artavia Sotela | Fundadora |Costa Rica
Madelaine Artavia Sotela fundó Arquitectura Arquenz en el 2002, después de graduarse en dibujo arquitectónico. Estudiar arquitectura había sido un reto ya que necesitaba mantener a su hijo, por lo que comenzó a hacer dibujos arquitectónicos en casa. Entonces, un cliente al que ella había hecho un modelo y planos le preguntó si podía construirle la casa que le había diseñado. Ella decidió tomar el riesgo e iniciar su propio negocio de construcción.
"Yo nunca había dirigido un proyecto por mi cuenta, pero tenía algo de experiencia porque había trabajado con mi padre, quien era supervisor de construcción y me enseñó mucho sobre el negocio cuando era niña," dice Madelaine. "La pasión por mi trabajo viene de esos recuerdos de la infancia."
Madelaine comenzó su negocio y continuó estudiando arquitectura con muchas dificultades en el camino. Entre el trabajo y el cuidado de su hijo, no fue sino hasta el 2012 que pudo obtener su diploma de arquitecto. Sin embargo, a partir de ese momento, su empresa ha crecido y ella y su equipo han aprovechado muchas oportunidades, algunas de las cuales han llegado a través WEConnect Internacional.
Congratulations to Maggie Berry — WEConnect International Market Lead of the Year 2015
Maggie is the Executive Director for WEConnect International in Europe and joined the team in December 2012 – she has lead responsibility for the management, leadership and development of WEConnect International in Europe. Her role involves developing corporate and public sector support as well as growing and developing the database and network of registered and certified women business owners across the UK and Europe.
Previously, Maggie was the Managing Director of womenintechnology.co.uk – an online job board, recruitment and networking forum for women working in the technology profession in the UK. She was involved from Women in Technology's inception in the autumn of 2004, managed all aspects of the website and the networking activities Women in Technology organised and she continues to run the Women in Technology Network on an informal basis. In March 2012 Maggie was honoured by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and she is currently serving as a Global Agenda Council Member on Employment for the 2012-2014 term. In July 2011 she was listed as one of 15 UK-based TIAW (the International Alliance for Women) World of Difference Award winners and in July 2010 she was included in Management Today's '35 Under 35' list. She is also a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. In August 2014, Maggie was interviewed by Global Invest Her about entrepreneurship and the future of WEConnect International in Europe.
Lise Déziel, Cordé Électrique
Lise Déziel was named a WEConnect International in Canada WBE of the Year on Nov. 13, 2015!
Mme Déziel had been in the field of electrical wiring for 20 years before creating her own enterprise in 2010. Cordé Électrique has grown from 4 employees in 2010, to 45 employees in 2014.
In June 2015, Mme Déziel was invited by the Réseau des Femmes d’affaires du Québec and WEConnect International in Canada to attend the largest American supplier diversity conference for women business owners in Austin, Texas. She hesitated but decided to join in at the last minute. In just a few days at the conference, through the introductions made by WEConnect International, a non-profit that connects women entrepreneurs to market opportunities in global chains. Ms. Déziel met with GM, FCA, Toyota, and others. These multinational corporations encouraged her to seek the certification from WEConnect International in Canada which certifies and trains women owned businesses to do business with large corporations which have supplier diversity and inclusion programs.
Following that trip and the certification, GM invited her to attend their own diversity trade show. She was also invited to attend Great Lakes diversity show. This visibility has created many opportunities to make new contacts.
Usually in this type of industry, contract takes 1-2 years to come to fruition. But since the certification, the life of her enterprise has changed in a good way, and partnership and contract negotiation have been accelerated, and she talking about possible opening of the American market. She is very optimistic about closing significant new contracts in the future based on her certification and working with corporations who promote supplier diversity and inclusion for women owned businesses.
Majda Ficko | Owner and President
Winnipeg | Manitoba | Canada
Majda Ficko was named a WEConnect International in Canada WBE of the Year on Nov. 13, 2015!
Did you know diaper rash is actually a chemical burn that can lead to infection? Did you know that it only takes 26 seconds for your skin to absorb chemicals from your personal care products? Did you know that some of the shampoos and creams for babies on the market today contain chemicals like formaldehyde?
WEConnect International certified woman business owner, award-winning entrepreneur, and mother Majda Ficko knows all to well and has created an all-natural diaper cream that works – Baby Butz.
Majda gave birth to her son, Demitri, nearly 18 years ago. He was born prematurely and was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Cornelia de Lange. Against all odds, he is alive today. However, he must use a feeding tube for nourishment and forever be in diapers.
Demitri has been prone to diaper rash his entire life. For several years, Majda tried numerous over-the-counter creams, but none seemed to work. She decided to work with a chemist to create exactly what she needed. She started doing research, approaching doctors, “Tell me what I need.” In the end, Majda and the chemist created an all-natural, safe, alcohol-free, and perfume-free product that really works.
Sally Ormond | Managing Director
Suffolk | UK
I first became aware of WEConnect International through a certified member I met at a local networking event. She was aware of my business and said that she thought it would be a good fit as my skills were not only suitable to the corporate market, but also fellow WEConnect International women business owners. After looking into the organization I was impressed by the range of events and activities it offered and the number of corporate members.
I soon decided that the only way forward was to become a fully certified member (a painless process), initially deciding to try it out for a 3-year period. Anything like this takes a while to show results, but I am now into my fourth year and have worked with a few WEConnect International women business owners and a couple of corporate contacts.
I started Briar Copywriting back on 2007. I work with companies of all sizes around the world to help them communicate more effectively through the written word, both for external and internal communications. Working in partnership with my clients, I get to know them, their business and their customers and create content that fits their brand, achieves their aims and that creates a cohesive image.
Jimena Florez | CEO & Co-Foudner
Bogota | Colombia
In May 2015, 29-year-old female entrepreneur Jimena Florez traveled from Colombia to Washington, DC, as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas program. Little did she know President Obama would publically recognize her work as a social entrepreneur and applaud her efforts to promote healthy living.
It is difficult to believe that it was only four years ago that Jimena founded Crispy Fruits, offering a line of freeze-dried fruit snacks using produce from local farmers. Until recently, customers could only find Jimena’s exotic, fitness, and power mixes in specialty shops and select cafeterias. However, with the support of WEConnect International, her customer base has expanded into new territory.
One of the very first female entrepreneurs to earn certification in Colombia, Jimena attended this year’s inaugural WEConnect International Latin American Regional Forum. There she met a representative from a major hotel chain, and now she has a contract that will put Crispy Fruits in Bogota hotel rooms.
Jimena is encouraged by her early success and is already developing new products. She and her team are working with local cacao farmers to make baked goods that will not only provide more protein and iron, but will also burn calories. While she strengthens her customer base in Colombia, she also has plans to expand to the U.S. and Australian markets.
March 3, 2015
Today, as my company DIDCO turns 17, I wish to share with WEConnect International a story that makes me happy and proud.
Some years ago, when I was a marketing manager at GNP, I was informed that the project I was working on would be cancelled, leaving me with two options:
1. Relocate into another business unit, or
2. Accept a severance payment, which would mean the end of my dream of reaching the corporate marketing direction.