Lean In, Pull Up, and Take Off: FWEME Incubation Begins at TYO

By now, much of the business world is aware of "leaning in"- the concept coined by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that encourages women to become the confident leaders that the world needs. At TYO, we firmly believe in the idea of inspiring women to dream big and work hard. But we also know the institutional challenges in places like Palestine that block progress for gender equality- and that's why we're fans of a recent article in Forbes Magazine about women's economic empowerment in the Middle East that describes women's need to both lean in- and pull up. Given the array of obstacles for women entrepreneurs in the Middle East, the article sheds light on the idea of pulling up- noting that women in the region need more than just individual motivation, but also require sponsors, mentors, and successful teams willing to "pull them up". It's through women coming together that structural barriers are lifted- and more females can fairly enter, and succeed, in any field of the workforce they desire.

Yet it also explains the main idea behind the incubation phase of the FWEME Initiative, which kicked off this week at TYO. While incubation is a long-term process that will take place throughout the course of the next ten months, we've commenced the process with an intensive three-week session of English, IT, and social media courses. The classes are a crash-course in the communication and computer skills needed to take one's business to the next level- but also to build confidence, and encourage women to work alongside one another to build a strong, productive community of female entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur Nahawand works on a presentation for her math education company, Play By Numbers.

Here's a look at some of the topics we're covering as we're pulling up together in the next few weeks:

  • Facebook Marketing: Most female entrepreneurs are quite active personally on social media channels- but aren't yet certain about how to navigate tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for professional gain. Through special trainings and working together to set up their various accounts, entrepreneurs are learning about how their businesses can cross borders and strategically reach new buyers through the internet- while also engaging a friendly competition of who can gain the most online followers by the end of our three week course.
  • Powerpoint Skills: Many women in Palestine have never had the opportunity to speak to a large group of people- and lack the confidence, as well as public speaking skills, to present their business pursuits powerfully. In addition to creating PowerPoint presentations, entrepreneurs at TYO are also honing their business pitches and practicing in front of one another for constructive feedback.
  • Business English: Basic greetings- such as hellos and how are you's- might seem like the easier parts of English. However, as our entrepreneurs meet with successful mentors and local business experts, it's paramount that they're knowledgeable in professional introductions. By teaching business English, we're making sure that entrepreneurs have the confidence to navigate a variety of situations, and speak boldly to their peers, partners, and advisors.

This three-week set of classes is just the start of incubation- and as we move forward into this phase, we'll keep you posted on how we're continuing to both lean in and pull up in Palestine.

-Women's Empowerment Coordinator, Cayce