10 Takeaways From 'Oxford Forum on Women in the World Economy 2013'

Griselda Kumordzie Togobo shares her top 10 takeaways from 'Power Shift: the Oxford Forum on Women in the World Economy 2013', which she attended on behalf of The NextWomen.

It’s really an interesting time to be woman. There are some great discussions currently going on about women, our roles in business and in society. 

The inaugural annual Oxford Forum for Women in the World Economy launched in May at Oxford University’s Said Business School. It was a “fantastical” gathering of intelligent, strong and highly motivated people (mainly women and some wise men) gathering to discuss how best to support women entrepreneurs throughout the developed and developing world. 

The event was hosted by Oxford’s Said Business School in partnership with Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil, Cartier Women’s initiative awards, Ernst & Young. The guest list was not only impressive but there were delegates from all over the world. 

The two-day event was an intoxicating cocktail of inspiration, networking, education and motivation! 

There were lots of insights into the personal stories of many successful female entrepreneurs and the challenges they faced and are still facing in building their businesses. 

The event was conducted under Chatham House rules, which effectively means that I can share information from the event but unfortunately I cannot attribute any information directly to anybody. 

The speakers also did a brilliant job sharing research data which highlighted that more women needed to be supported in their enterprise ventures if we were to achieve the levels of success or growth that is commonly associated with businesses run by men. 

Some pretty shocking statistics were presented during the two day event.  

Two that stood out to me were:

1. Only 4.2% of Venture capital is awarded to women’s ventures.  

2. Overall men pay lower interest rate than women 

That is rather sad in today's world. 

It was also highlighted that women are still facing lack of access to mentors, lack of access to networking and influencers and a lack of access to finance. It seems to be the same story in both the developed and developing world. 

The founders shared some pretty fascinating personal stories and tips in the closed sessions.  I’ll share a few of the gems that struck a cord with me. 

The top 10 personal gems I took away from the conference were:

  1. Set bigger goals and you’ll surprise yourself 
  2. Don’t ask friends for their opinion about your product or service. They’ll never tell you the truth. Just ask strangers!
  3. You need to meet people before you need them, so start building your network now. 
  4. Never eat lunch alone; it’s an opportunity to make new connections.
  5. You’ll not be remembered for being a good business woman but you’ll be remembered for being a good mum/sister/friend etc.  
  6. See yourself as a human first, and a woman second.
  7. Learn how to say No. For example: “I’m saying No to this so I can say Yes to something else.” 
  8. You are what you do! Start doing more with what you have. 
  9. Women need to introduce more numbers into your business plans. Men’s business plans have more numbers so they look more impressive and most of the reviewers approving the business plans at the banks are also men! 
  10. Ask for help. Women are notorious for not asking for help when they need it. 

I feel so honoured to be have been part of the Forum.

After all the excitement has died down, my only hope is that these discussions lead to some fundamental shifts in how we, women, are supported (both by other women and men) in our pursuit of our entrepreneurial ambitions. 

Try to be at the 2014 forum if you can. 

I would love to thank Beth Pitts, the Editor here at Next Women, Amanda Poole and Matthew Garraghan (part the conference organising team) for making it possible for me to attend.  

Griselda Kumordzie Togobo (ACA, MPhil) is a Business Growth Consultant to independent professionals and small business owners. She specializes in using high-impact but low-cost business growth strategies to improve profitability.  She is very passionate about supporting women in business through her educational workshops, seminars and speaking engagements. Griselda runs AWOVI Consulting, a consultancy whose vision is to help business owners increase their profitability, cash flow and productivity. She also writes on entrepreneurship, personal development and small business management issues for various publications, at her blog http://www.awovi.com and at Huffington Post UK.

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