AWiB’s Commitment: Developing Women Leaders

As a platform for mid-level career women and business owners,

As a platform for mid-level career women and business owners in Ethiopia, one of Association of Women Business’s core commitments to its members is to provide opportunities for them to develop their networking, communication and leadership skills. Operational for just two years and with over 165 members to date, AWiB has maintained a successful track record of providing its members with a wide range of events and opportunities to ensure personal and professional growth.

Such opportunities are designed for the sole purpose of achieving one goal — developing women leaders. But what traits do leaders have that separate them from the rest?

Leaders never stop learning.

Building on its repertoire for education and confidence building through guided self-reflection, AWiB has successfully launched a personal development 12 week e-learning course by certified life coach Maskaram Haile.  This well attended course maintained weekly communication through e-mails and AWiB’s discussion board and blog. The 12 sessions provided through this course were designed to be interactive and allow students to address their inner aspirations, confidence and fears.

Kathryn Karl, a student in the course stated, “Maski’s 12-week e-course allowed me to mandate time for the development of myself. I could print the exercises and work on them at my leisure, knowing that at any time I needed support it was just an e-mail away. In just 3 months time I can attest to being more focused and confident in all that I do!” Following feedback from students, Maski and AWiB look forward to offering another series of e-learning life coaching courses to members.

Leaders are confident.

The strongest leaders throughout the world exude confidence in their words and actions. AWiB also offers regular self-confidence classes to members. Such classes provide a dialogue platform for women to explore and celebrate their inner selves.  In these day-long workshops led by AWiB Executive Director and Founder Nahu Girma, women learn that lack of self confidence is rooted in fear – be it the fear of failure or the fear of rejection. Women in these classes are encouraged to not just explore, but also address their inner fears to understand how they can overcome them in their personal and professional lives.

Leaders are collaborative.

While individual aspirations can take us far, role models and leaders continue to urge us to remember that ”together, we accomplish more.” In addition to the monthly networking exercise that are part of each monthly meeting, AWiB added casual roundtable discussions to their portfolio this year. Roundtable discussions are held monthly between members and AWiB Executive Director and Founder Nahu Girma and AWiB President Elect Seble Hailu. Such roundtables are held at the AWiB office and allow women to use dialogue to address personal struggles and be champions for one another in persevering over challenges.

These roundtables not only focus on the development of women, but also serve as a platform to learn from one another’s experiences.

Leaders are articulate.

Strong leaders know what they want to say, and communicate those thoughts with ease. For leaders, language is not a barrier, but rather a tool. In an increasing globalized world, the international trade language is becoming more and more dominated by English. Recognizing the need for recent graduates and professionals to be able to convey their ideas thoughts through both the written and spoken word of the English language, AWiB proudly offers free Conversational English Classes to its members. Such courses have successfully run for a series of two 3-month periods and are facilitated by two native English speakers. Meeting on a weekly basis, participants have the opportunity to develop their confidence and comfort levels in communicating in spoken and written English language, develop small-group presentation skills, and develop long lasting friendships.

This fall, AWiB’s conversational classes have gathered eight women per class for two hours each Tuesday and Wednesday at the AWiB office.  Team leaders select a topic for each class whereby participants have a week in advance to prepare  their thoughts so they can effectively engage in a lively discussion. Team leaders have encouraged participants to use this preparation time to practice their writing skills. Written preparations are submitted to the team leaders, reviewed, edited and returned to the students with feedback. Topics discussed range from conflict prevention, the power of thought, motherhood, challenges and triumphs, goal setting and time management.  At the close of each class, team leaders select a grammar rule or additional vocabulary to summarize in order to enrich the essence of each topic. Midway through the course, team leaders passed the torch to the participants, asking them to lead and present the week’s next topic of choice. Building off of practice, students them apply their growing confidence to leading small group presentations and discussions.

In just twelve short weeks, students can attest to their ability to be articulate in the English language. A student of this fall’s course stated, “This program has helped me to be more conscious on the usage of official languages, articles and tenses. In addition, I have been given the opportunity to meet intelligent and courageous women. It was not only a conversation class; it was a kind of life experience sharing which helped me see the beautiful part of life. I also made good friends. It was beyond my expectations.”

Another student similarly stated, “The weekly topics were so interesting and beneficial.  Some of the topics focused on our personal experiences and others were general.  The personal ones helped us get along each other easily.  The general ones helped us develop our presentation skill.  I was very happy when I presented my dream topic “Waste Management” to a small group.  It was a good exercise as I have a dream to present same issue to a larger group of people and bring about environmental changes in Ethiopia.”

Following feedback, AWiB looks forward to preparing for another semester of conversational English in the spring.

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