Written by Jana Zraik, a participant in our Fostering Young Israeli Women Entrepreneurs project (pictured above right)
After three years of intensive studies at one of the best business schools in Israel – the Sir Harry Solomon School of Management at the Western Galilee College – I was one of twenty female students to be selected to participate in the ‘Fostering Young Israeli Women Entrepreneurs’ project, run by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. Through the project, we are pursuing a BA degree in Economics and Business Management. The course enables us to attend enrichment workshops and go on field visits to meet successful businesswomen and learn about their enterprises, an experience which has given us a powerful insight into the practical aspects of entrepreneurship.
As a result of this programme, my boxed in ideas about business have turned into a much grander and more evolved perspective. I have become aware of the countless details that one has to take into account when running a business, for example, the role that advertising plays in building a successful brand, and the optimal number of employees and hours needed for an establishment to become successful.
I was ecstatic when I received a phone call informing me that I was one of nine students from the course who had been selected to represent Western Galilee College on a trip to London in June. As the departure date grew closer, I grew more and more excited about the prospect of meeting inspirational business leaders and decision-makers in one of the world’s top financial and political centres.
We started the trip with a ‘meet and greet’ with Cherie Blair. As the Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Cherie has empowered thousands of women all around the world. I was undoubtedly inspired by her Foundation, because the support it has given me has uplifted me personally as a woman in the Middle East, helping to make me more confident in my goals.
That same day we met with Jude Ower, the founder of PlayMob, a company which helps charities raise funds by allowing people to donate virtual prizes they win in computer games to real life causes. Her presentation taught me about how a business can contribute to humanitarian causes whilst also generating profit – truly a win-win situation. We also visited Portland Communications, a political consultancy and public relations agency. What particularly struck me from this visit was that most of the employees we met were women. These smart, thoughtful, composed women are important role models with powerful influence in the public sphere.
On the third day we visited the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, where we attended a private lecture by Dr. Pegram Harrison, a Fellow in Entrepreneurship. He explained to us the important differences between an idea and an opportunity in entrepreneurship: ideas are relatively free, timeless and easy to have while opportunities are more resource dependent, perishable and harder to seize. The lecture widened my understanding of entrepreneurship. In the words of the academic, John Bates, entrepreneurship is about “shaping and exploiting opportunities where others see challenges or chaos or contradiction.”
The trip to London was a once in a lifetime experience which has changed my perspective about business, shifting it from local to global and encouraging me to consider both the micro and macro perspectives of economic growth. The experience also taught me that for any business to be successful in the future, women will have to play a major and equal role.
It has become my conviction that I have the power to change my surroundings and my community at large. I plan to apply what I have learned through this special programme by pursuing a career in the private sector, either in a high ranking company or by starting my own business. I am committed to advancing my professional career as much as possible because I truly believe that one’s success can and will benefit others through a trickle-down effect. If I am empowered, I can empower others.
The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women provided us with an immersive and culturally enriching experience during our stay in London. The experience truly helped to broaden my entrepreneurial horizons.
Find out more about our other Enterprise Development projects here.