In 2016 I was blessed to be a part of the first Women’s Innovation Network of the Caribbean (WINC) Acceleration Program. It is an eight-month AP designed to help business women fast track their growth. The AP is funded by the Canadian Government through the World Bank Group’s InfoDev project EPIC. The application process for AP2 was launched at the end of June 2017 and 96 business women now have the chance to join the program across the Caribbean.
This year, I won’t be facilitating the Antigua/Montserrat hub but providing support for the women who completed the first AP and I am looking forward to that. What has been driven home to me more than six months since we ended the first cohort is that women process, plan, and act on their business at their own speed and it is quite okay.
I often remarked to colleagues during the program how frustrated I was when I didn’t think the women were making enough progress and not taking action with what they were learning. It is very easy to get judgmental when you are sitting in the passenger seat giving instructions. While I knew on paper what the women wanted to achieve it was not the full story. Just as I was managing multiple projects, jumping on a plane in the morning to teach sessions then pray flights aren’t cancelled so I could make it home to my children by evening, the women were also facing their own challenges. They were raising children, dealing with elderly or ailing family, mourning loss, freaking out at how they would meet their bank payment and wondering if they really had what it took to grow their ventures.
The AP provides a soft place for women in business to fall when necessary and not have to pretend they have it together. A place where we champion each other and don’t pass judgement when someone just isn’t getting it fast enough. Having a facilitator who is also a woman, a parent, wife, and entrepreneur makes a big difference. It really becomes hard to use your children as an excuse for why you are not making an attempt when others around you are doing just that. The monthly face-to-face sessions give women a chance to bounce ideas off of their peers and it shatters the myth that women don’t support each other or we are all afraid that someone will steal our ideas.
What is clear is that everyone’s version of fast is different and we have to allow them to go as fast as they can. Some of the women ended the program with what looked like no noticeable changes. The challenges they had on day one didn’t magically disappear by graduation day. However, what they now had was a network of women who wanted to see them win and they had better tools to use to improve their businesses. Even now further down the road, they are taking action and it is wonderful to see their breakthrough. You can’t help but be proud and celebrate each step they take no matter the size of it.
If you are a women in business with a company two years or older and live in Antigua/Barbuda, Belize, Barbados, Grenada, Dominica, St. Kitts/Nevis, Jamaica or Trinidad/Tobago then consider applying to join the WINC Acceleration Program 2017. It’s a way to fast-track your business growth. To apply: https://lnkd.in/epXAyiA