Why AWiB?

\"\"When you meet people, it is customary to ask, “Hi! How are you doing today?”  A response may come as, “I am pretty good, thank you! How about you? “Very good.”  In Ethiopia, we may say, “Dehna negne, Egziar yimesgen” or “Al-?amdu lill?h!” That is how we usually start conversations.  Whether or not we really mean we are “fine”, is something else.  Similarly, when we are asked to make introductory or concluding remarks, we say “I feel honored or privileged to…..”  Whether or not we truly feel honored or not is again a different story.

Then I asked myself, “Am I being authentic when I say, ‘I feel privileged to talk about AWiB or am I just reiterating the usual words to spark the remarks? After the deep heart search, I now confirm, “Yes, I am privileged.  I feel honored to be part of AWiB and I can authentically explain why.

Why AWiB?

Everything begins in ideas.  Be it technological innovation, or human relations, development or transformation, buildings or organizations and so forth.  We make all things happen but their starting point is in the mind – ideas.  Where did AWiB start? In the idea that Ethiopian women need space to think, to deliberate, to converse, to exchange ideas and to emerge.

“Do we have it?”


“Can we create that forum for women and be a means for transformation?”


That was what Nahu Senay Girma and Roman Kifle did after they came back to Ethiopia.  AWiB envisions being a catalyst for Ethiopian female leaders to connect, emerge and grow together.  I remember a saying, “It is the literate, not the illiterate who eradicate illiteracy.”  Similarly, it is responsible and empowered women who can work on leadership and obliterate disempowerment.  AWiB is about developing women leaders.  We are the women who should take responsibility not only to develop ourselves but also many others who need to be liberated to be who they are created to be.

Why AWiB? ‘cause it is a place where empowered women are developed to develop others.

Second, AWiB provides the platform to network.  AWiB is a place where the first Thursday of every month we gather together with our fellow men and women, listen to prominent speakers and create dialogue. It is where we network and exchange our business cards, It is where we get infected with brilliant ideas and push them from there.  It is where we uplift each other and find the motivation to push our agenda forward. AWiB is about sharing: We share knowledge, we share opportunities, we share experiences, we stimulate each other’s thinking, we spur one another to do good, we work in team, we promote excellence, we encourage each other to expand our potential.  As 2013 AWiB President Billene wrote a book about AWiB as the “Transformative Space,” AWiB indeed creates that space for women to have meaningful discussions every other week at Round Table to get individual attention and gather others’ perspectives in the areas of concerns.  We share not only ideas but also experiences, life lessons and we learn from each other.

Why AWiB? ‘cause it gives you transformative space for your personal and leadership development.

In addition to the monthly networking sessions and programs, AWiB is a platform where we call upon the nation to deliberate on important issues such as today’s – Leadership in Action.  This is a forum where government, professionals, business people, men and women get together to see trends and be part of the bigger picture of the dialogue.   We move the country to create an opportunity for discussions.  We believe that this country grows up and reaches its destination when we make crucial conversations at different levels.  We stubbornly focus on the vision of increased connectivity and networking in the Country as a pathway to peace, progress and development.  This is why we are determined to do more and to do better. We owe it to our communities and our Country, which have contributed one way or another to our betterment.

Why AWiB? ‘cause it connects you to your country and continent whereby ideas take the form of personal, business and national development.  It is a place where our country will take the right form – ‘trans’- ‘form’.

Third, AWiB enriches the lives of women through friendship and partnership.   Sisay Abebe who facilitated one of today’s breakout sessions was talking about, “Dreaming Big and Crystalizing Possibilities.”  He mentioned that one of the ways we increase our influence and attain our dream was by surrounding ourselves with the right crowd.  He said, “We need to be friend-raisers, not fund-raisers.”  Connection is the way we link our business.

Why AWiB?  ‘cause it is a forum where we get people who take their lives and business seriously and make good friends.

Fourth, AWiB acknowledges and recognizes the achievements and contributions of women.  You have just seen the 2014 Women of Excellence celebration video.  We may have different people whom we call models in relationship, career, serving humanity, and so forth.  AWiB brings forth women who model excellence and celebrates them annually putting them on the spotlight for generations to see and learn from them.  Modelling is a good way to learning.  Recently I was interviewed by a journalist and asked who my role model was.  I replied, I have many in different aspects of my life.  My parents are good models for relationships.  My instructor was my good model for my career.  AWiB’s Women of Excellence are my wonderful models who exhibit how to influence and make greater impact in our nation.

Why AWiB? ‘cause it is a place where the culture of appreciation is promoted and excellence is celebrated. 

We are committing to action on developing in times of change we are determined to do even more and to do even better to do even bolder in the years to come.  We are not only into conversations but also into actions that transform our nation.

So I challenge all women here to be members and find your way of developing yourself.  I challenge every men to be part of our monthly programs and yearly forum discussions, and yearly women of excellence celebrations.  I challenge business entities to be partners and support our cause.

Before I officially close the day, I would like you to join me in applauding for:

First and foremost, the originators of AWiB.  Nahu and Roman, who did not limit their innovative ideas to wishful thinking.  They gave it eyes to see, mouth to speak, hands to do good deeds and legs to go and run. Their continued commitment is the fruit that we eat today.  They more than deserve to be applauded for.

Second, the past and present board members who volunteered your resources (time, money, skills, efforts…) and led AWiB to take its present form.  You need to be applauded for.

Third, the speakers and facilitators who stimulated our thinking to dream big, to think broadly and transform our world, to communicate with influence and to see the missing link in our leadership and finally to live accomplished lives.  Of course, they do deserve our applause as well.

Last but not least, I want to say thank you to all of you, the participants, who graced us with your presence.  Your interest and active participation made the day a delightful one.  Imagine all the preparations, speakers, lunch and refreshments but no audience, no one to connect and network with.  That would have been very lonely.  We applaud to you as well.

I conclude my remarks by authentically say – AWiB is worth being identified with.  It is about you, by you and for you. Join us one way or another.  You will be part of a big movement that transforms the nation.  Be a member, a partner or a support group.

AWiB turns 5.  Where are you? Today’s theme is Leadership in Action.  Take an action.

I thank you!

Seble Hailu

2014 AWiB President