In honor of International Women’s Day, I want to highlight the importance of not only celebrating the progress made by and for women-owned businesses, but also looking ahead to future expansion and development. Although the challenges that exist for female entrepreneurs are extensive and formidable, their resilience, creativity and adaptability continue to drive significant business growth and success. This year, I want to encourage women-owned businesses to expand their offerings further—beyond the borders of their cities, regions and countries—in person and online.
To develop a sustainable competitive advantage in 2022, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) must transform for the future and act dynamically to fully capture the regional and global opportunities within their sectors. By understanding and anticipating new needs, refocusing on their existing internal strengths, and realigning their goals and strategies, SMEs can grow their impact and market share in the international marketplace.
The past few years have shown us that the future is uncertain, but the world is also deeply interconnected in a way that it has never been before. Digital transformation spurred further by the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed business to be fully conducted online no matter where they are based. New, unpredicted needs have arisen, and solutions are being provided collaboratively, from all corners of the globe. Women business owners can and should sit at the forefront of this movement. They have the skills, and I know they have the boldness and resourcefulness to solve problems on a local and global scale. I’ve seen it as many of the world’s most successful women business owners pilot their companies toward success by leveraging business networks and technology to thrive in these difficult circumstances.
Women-owned businesses are one of the most underutilized drivers of innovation and job growth in both developed and emerging markets. By leveraging the power of female entrepreneurs, new ideas, products and services are launched into markets around the world. Indeed, in many parts of the world, women-owned businesses are a significant and reliable source of innovation in global value chains. According to “How to Rebuild Global Business for Good,” a special report underwritten by Moody’s Corporation and TD Bank Group and led by WEConnect International, when women business owners gain access to markets and capital, everyone benefits—employees, families, communities and the global economy.
Yet women business owners are often hampered by borders or barriers, some external and others self-imposed. That’s why this coming year we are focused on helping women-owned businesses identify the areas that keep them from learning and growing so that they can break down these barriers and go beyond their borders—however they define them.
And we have so many women-owned businesses within the WEConnect International network that are doing just that. They continue to inspire and awe me with their smarts and fortitude as they lead in breaking down traditional borders and expanding internationally.
Take Kathryn Strachan of Copy House, a content marketing agency based in the U.K., for example. Last year, she led her business to new heights by niching down the offering to specialized technology and fintech content services rather than generalized content marketing services. As a result, her team has seen a massive boom in business, growing 280% in 2021 and adding new services to their portfolio. Furthermore, Kathryn has launched Copy House Europe allowing her agency to improve and increase its client relationships, currently successfully reaching 15 countries across the EU and producing thought-provoking content for brands like Klarna, Meta, Travelex and more.
In a similar fashion, Cathy Dimarchos of Australian business advisory company Solutions2you Pty. Ltd. has used this past year to be part of the change she wants to see in the world. Her firm worked across continents with executive development teams to increase performance by 40% and gain an additional $1 billion in sales. Moreover, she has used her international reach to also generate a philanthropic impact to run and fund leadership programs in Tanzania for approximately 300 young aspiring children and entrepreneurs.
Another woman-owned enterprise is on the cusp of going global. Betel Sanchez and Lorena Sanchez, Co-Founders of SavvyFoods, a freeze-dried fruits and vegetables producer based in Mexico, have standardized their processes and developed a new series of freeze-dried products that they are now preparing to export worldwide.
No matter what size the company or where it is located WEConnect International encourages every woman-owned business to reach a little higher and a little further, searching for that opportunity to go beyond her borders, break down barriers and drive lasting change. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I’m proud to give a shout out to the strong and capable leaders in the WEConnect International network, and I look forward to seeing where their journeys take them—and how they will change the world, one woman at a time. #IWD2022