On top of combining Miller Center’s structured curriculum with weekly mentoring sessions, these programs also offered customized content through a series of topic-based webinars based on participant feedback that took into consideration the specific challenges faced by women leaders. Based on participant feedback, our new series of webinars focused on such topics as Effective & Efficient Decision Making, Unconscious Bias & Gender, and a Women-Led CEO Roundtable. The programs also addressed the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and recommended best practices for crisis management through the pandemic.
“We embarked on the program looking forward to the rigour of working through our business plan. What we got was so much more… We received invaluable advice and support as we navigated the leadership challenges of the pandemic, refined our business model in response, and pursued new strategic opportunities. Thank you Miller Center!” —Margo Carlen, Director, Business for Health Solutions
Increasing Confidence and Leadership Skills
Several studies suggest that confidence is the top leadership difference between men and women so one-on-one leadership coaching sessions with Miller Center Executive Fellows Linda Keegan and Susan Pohl were offered to all participants as a way to enhance their confidence and better equip them in addressing leadership challenges.
During the coaching sessions, the entrepreneurs were encouraged to discuss challenges specifically while leading amidst a crisis and received tips on effective ways to support their teams through transitioning to different operational structures. Discussions on how best to balance empathy and authority also came up as well as effective measures to ensure accountability and productivity during a time of working remotely.
Many of these women lead social enterprises in sectors and countries that still remain male-dominated, so feelings of self doubt and intimidation were not uncommon. As one JumpStart participant noted, “The coaching sessions enabled me to gain more confidence in dealing with people, standing up for what I want,and communicating what I want others to do instead of shying away!”
Another Women-Led participant stated, “The coaching session provided me tools and discussion prompts that I can utilize in leading and managing my team. It encouraged me to practice more authority and have a strong hold of command given the crisis. I also have been more transparent and vulnerable to the team to share accountability for business continuity.”
As a way to assess the impact that the GSBI accelerator curriculum, mentorship, and coaching had on the entrepreneur’s confidence, surveys with the same set of questions were administered at the beginning and then at the end of the program. Comparing combined baseline and endline survey results of the Women-Led Online and JumpStart participants showed a clear increase in confidence with their leadership, entrepreneurial skills, ability to raise funding, developing support networks, and overall satisfaction with their work.
Read more participant feedback:
“Going through the GSBI Accelerator programme has been such an amazing experience. The ‘unit economics’ just revealed to me one of the best ways of looking at my business. It was a difficult unit that at some point I felt like giving up, but my mentors kept encouraging me. In the end it all made sooo much sense to the extent that going forward, that is the only way I will look at my business. I have been able to gain insights on our four strategic initiatives that will have the greatest impact on our community as we move forward. Thank you Miller Center and the entire team.” —Josephine Suleiman, CEO & Founder, Olivelink Healthcare
“The program helped me to understand more the social impact that I want to make, and to organize and align my resources accordingly. My mentors helped me to pay more attention to the details and focus more on the strategic level and how I can align my operations and skills towards sustainability. Simply: doing fewer activities with a bigger and sustainable impact!” —Reem Alfranji, Managing Partner, Habaybna.net
To learn more about this cohort of amazing women entrepreneurs, check out their final presentations here.
Continuing to Support Women’s Economic Empowerment
In support of UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, Miller Center will continue to stay focused on supporting women’s economic growth. Having seen the success of the first women-led cohorts, Miller Center is moving towards supporting social enterprises that are taking a robust and holistic approach to supporting women in all aspects of business. In addition to supporting women-led enterprises, Miller Center will strive to support organizations that include workplace equity in staffing, management, and boardroom representation as well as in supply chains. We also strive to support social enterprises with products or services that substantially improve the lives of women and girls.
Miller Center for Social Entrepreneur is excited to broaden and deepen our strategic initiative by launching our first Women’s Economic Empowerment cohort, set to kick off in February 2021.
In the meantime, congratulations to the newest batch of women-leaders to join the Miller Center family of alumni!