33-year-old Emilie Hawlena wants to create synergies between women who share an entrepreneurial spirit, to help them break into the complex, exciting and sometimes hostile arena that is starting one’s own business.
Why create a new women’s network?
After having left my native Belgium ten years ago, and moving to Geneva to work in banking, which no longer felt right for me, I decided I wanted to develop the entrepreneur inside me. The road to fulfilling my aspiration has led me to the role of connecting and promoting dynamic, creative and genuine women entrepreneurs. I can feel a real momentum building, among a significant number of talented women out there who are ready to realise their potential. I hope to be able to set up something that will capture this momentum and take the business projects of these creative and passionate women further. It’s now been three months since the launch of Genuine Women, and the initiative seems to be on the right track because we’re now close to 100 members. From yoga instructor to winemaker, to event organiser… And we don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. We recently expanded our network to Lausanne in May 2017 and are planning to open in other districts in 2018: In Neuchâtel in February, Friborg in May and Valais for September. Our main mission is to unite French-speaking Switzerland, the message behind the network is therefore in keeping "together, we are stronger and we go further." Each district’s network will be represented by an ambassador who will assist in the their network’s development and the implementation of these new ideas (partners, events, workshops etc). Of course, we will also organise national events to ensure that networks throughout the country mix.
What are your winning tactics for achieving your goals?
First and foremost, I intend to bring people together, by consolidating a community of women entrepreneurs who are in solidarity with each other, and which enables them to discuss their experiences together, and create collaborations and synergies. I’m convinced that together we are stronger and can go further! Secondly, I want to offer the members of Genuine Women stronger visibility for their initiatives, through a website that showcases their work. Each woman has her own page which puts the spotlight on her project and allows her to be contacted directly. Finally, I plan to support these female entrepreneurs; or aspiring entrepreneurs, in the development of their activities. Hopefully soon I’ll have a radio show so I can present listeners with one of the women entrepreneurs’ projects each week. Another dream I’m working on is to produce a free quarterly magazine that would feature profiles of the women who are part of Genuine, along with reports on the collaborations they are building and other news from our network.
More and more of us are starting our own ventures. While entrepreneurship can be a thrilling experience, it’s not always easy and at times it can be a very lonely journey. With these issues in mind, I offer workshops that include talks from speakers, conferences and certain benefits that can help eager women entrepreneurs, and make their lives easier. We also organise frequent meet-ups between members, whether for breakfast, lunch or an aperitif, depending on our schedules. Among these meet-ups, we hold a monthly ‘Rescue drink’, that gives the Genuine members the chance to network over a drink in an informal and relaxed environment, as if they were at home. Not forgetting the ‘Ladies’ Fu*k-up Night’, where each of the women tells the others how she’s managed to bounce back from her failures. After all, outside the network, nights out are still open to men too.