By Cily Keizer (Co-Director, BiD Network Foundation) Editor's note: Learn more about the Women in Business Challenge and how you can participate here. The deadline for applications and the access to the coaching program is December 30, 2011. Completed business plans will be accepted until April 15, 2012.
Reports find that women's lives around the world have improved significantly but gaps between men and women remain in many areas, especially business ownership.
BiD Network created the Women in Business Challenge to help committed female entrepreneurs start and grow their business in Africa, Latin America and Asia. We do it because it's the right thing to do, but also because women are building vibrant businesses that fight poverty locally, heighten living standards, and strengthen economies.
Together with partners ING and ICCO, BiD Network is calling for applications for the third edition of the Women in Business Challenge. By participating in this inspiring business plan competition, participants will receive feedback and support for drafting their business plan. Finalists will be invited for an all-expense paid business trip to the Netherlands with access to a customized training program. Professionals will coach them to strengthen their business skills and prepare them for their face-to-face meeting with high-end investors.
The Women in Business Challenge is also a unique opportunity to increase international visibility among investors and media. The winner is awarded tailor-made advisory services worth €5,000 from UnitedSucces, the worldwide network for business women owners. She will also run for a €5,000 cash prize awarded by ING. No matter how far participants will go in the competition, submitted high quality business plans are all eligible for the BiD Network Investor Matchmaking services.
Nathalie Arsonillo, winner of the Women in Business Challenge 2011, tells us that the competition helped her see the limitless opportunities for her business and for the lives of cassava farmers in the Philippines. In her own words, “Everybody has a business idea, be it a crazy proposition or something just very simple, but the bottom line is the same. We all want progress, for ourselves, for others, and the BiD competition is one of the best avenues to help us achieve that goal."
Since 2009, Women in Business has offered support, coaching, visibility and finance to 200 women heading business in emerging markets. We are looking forward to another great year of participation and innovation.
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Cily Keizer has been the co-director of BiD Network foundation since June 2010 with Thierry Sanders. Previously, Cily held management roles at Wemos in the Health sector and SNV Netherlands Development Organisations for programs related to Small and Medium Enterprises development, sustainable tourism, micro-finance and renewable energy. BiD Network contributes to sustainable economic growth by stimulating entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Since 2005, BiD Network has launched 490 businesses, created more than 3500 direct jobs, and mobilized $12 million from investors.