Economic empowerment for women through entrepreneurship
By Melisa Hall
Nassau, The Bahamas
As we celebrate International Women’s Day and look forward to our 50th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in The Bahamas, we certainly salute, honor and recognize all of those Bahamian pioneers and trailblazers who have made significant strides and accomplishments that we the women of the 21st century are beneficiaries of.
As we continue to cherish the historic moments, successes, victories and challenges they overcame to empower women socially, economically, politically and nationally, it is only fitting that we also use this occasion to take an introspective look and evaluate where we are on the global scale of economic empowerment for women.
We must examine the role that the Bahamian woman plays in the social and economic development of our nation. Here are a few questions we should consider:
• Are we consistent carriers of a progressive movement towards educating, enhancing and empowering our women to have a voice across the board in all equal facets of the economy?
• In what ways can we continue to contribute to the development of our younger generation to appreciate and value the significance of the Bahamian woman?
• What role is the government playing in developing and creating initiatives to empower and promote the advancement of women and is this an area that is often overlooked?
• Are there others mechanisms we can implement corporately or individually to open avenues for women to succeed?
Over the past few years and in recent times I have had the privilege and opportunity to meet so many women while hosing the annual business conferences for women, namely Kingdom Women in Business (KWIB).
What was and still is apparent to me is that most of these women sincerely aspire to be and do more for themselves professionally and economically, but oftentimes regardless of their marital status be it single or married, many of them feel trapped, restricted and prohibited; trapped in abusive relationships, restricted by their social peers and prohibited by their male counterparts especially in the workplace. In most cases they simply feel financially bound.
We must therefore train and teach our youth and adult women, especially those who have found themselves in a pit, that through the power of God, belief in themselves along with timely information, tools and initiatives that there is a way to the palace.
As we can see from our heroines like Dame Doris Johnson, Mary Ingraham, Mabel Walker, Georgianna Symonette, Eugenia Lockhart, Althea Mortimer, Albertha Isaacs, Grace Wilson, Mildred Moxey, Ethel Kemp, Gladys Bailey and Madge Brown, Janet Bostwick, just to name a few, the road and journey was not easy but it is possible to make significant achievements as a woman.
We must continue to advocate for equal opportunities for women socially, economically, politically, constitutionally, corporately, nationally and most certainly legally. We must encourage our Bahamian women who feel trapped to take the limits off of their minds and become innovative to find ways to progress economically.
Personally, I want to challenge every woman who may feel suppressed, oppressed and depressed to use this time of reflection to position yourself to succeed.
One of the ways you can do this is through entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship, while challenging, will build your confidence and will definitely teach you the art of becoming economically empowered.
Here are three preliminary steps you can take towards becoming an entrepreneur.
1. Discover your purpose: Take an inventory and assessment of your skills, gifts, talents, strengths and weaknesses. Be true to yourself and identify what it is you were born and created to do. This is usually something you are really good at or would even enjoy doing even if you did not get paid to do it. There is indeed something unique inside of you.
2. Have a plan and a vision: Imagine where you would want to be in the future and create a step by step process to get there. Remember there is a process. Know where you are and seek help through a mentor, coach or professional who can help you to get where you want to be. This also means that you must count the cost, don’t just quit your job but create a financial plan towards starting your business.
3. Be prepared and persistent: Go back to school if you have to, become educated and qualified if necessary and attend training sessions that will enhance you. Begin to hunt and gather information about what you want to do. Be real and find out if there is really a need for your product or service, and don’t quit. If our forerunners have done it, you can too.
In closing, as we continue to stand on the shoulders of those who have paved the way forward, we must remain confident in the ability that God has placed on the inside of each of us to bring transformation to build our nation and become economically empowered as women through entrepreneurship.
• Melisa Hall is an attorney, advocate for women’s empowerment and business coach who hosts monthly workshops for women.
You may contact her at 341-2204, or reach her via Facebook.
Mar 08, 2012