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Mentoring Women Entrepreneurs in Traditional Cultures
It’s the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week. The concept, which emerged more than a decade ago from the combined efforts of Entrepreneurship Weeks in the USA and UK, the Kauffman Foundation, and the business world’s desire to inspire young people to be more entrepreneurial, has morphed into an international initiative that has introduced entrepreneurship to more than 10 million people from roughly 170 countries. Many of these individuals are women who come from countries where their basic rights remain legally and culturally restricted.
So how are we doing, especially women entrepreneurs?
It seems there is progress, but not enough.
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor notes the Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) among women globally increased by 10% since 2015. Women in the US have made the most progress, thanks to more dedicated business resources targeted at helping women access critical capital and essential management know-how.
But gaps still remain.
Around the world, particularly in developing countries, financial barriers combined with discrimination, legal barriers, and policy barriers can be suffocating. Hurdles include gender segregation; the inability of married women to travel without a male escort; barriers to identification cards; and legal constraints that prevent women from signing contracts on their own, accessing bank accounts, or registering businesses.
For example, in countries like Afghanistan, these limitations result in a double set of barriers for women entrepreneurs, based on both their gender and their culture.
But thanks to Thunderbird’s innovative hands-on mentoring programs through Project Artemis, a group of women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan are getting the much-needed business know-how and personalized mentoring from Thunderbird graduates.
One shining example of a Project Artemis success story is Asila Sadiqi, who a decade ago began a saffron business in Herat. She credits Project Artemis with the “business advanced training and good network” that has enabled her to forge essential industry partnerships in the country and region. While she still faces cultural and safety limitations in visiting the fields, her business has flourished thanks to a dedicated and loyal staff. Her experience with the networking and mentoring through Project Artemis has led her to want to develop a “Women’s Business Association for Afghanistan Women, especially for women who do not have the economic and investment education needed for success.”
She hopes that by continuing to partner with Project Artemis to establish stronger business mentoring and networking for entrepreneurs in Afghanistan, more women can benefit.
You can support Project Artemis at
By Sanjyot P. Dunung Tbird ‘87, Co-Chair Project Artemis, and President & Founder of Atma Global.