Women Entrepreneur Development Programme coming to Webster University

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Webster University is an American university based in Leiden. Their mission in the Netherlands is to enrich the lives of global citizens by offering a flexible, innovative and practical education in a culturally diverse setting.

Webster University is currently collaborating with the Women’s Business Initiative International (WBII) to offer a professional development course aimed at expat women in the Netherlands. It is a short entrepreneur training programme that will take place over four Saturdays in the month of June, 2017.

The programme is designed to provide, not only the knowledge but also the social support to help women turn their ideas into thriving businesses.  

Challenges facing expat entrepreneurs

When it comes to the challenges of setting up a business in the Netherlands, Madeleine ("Mads") van der Steege has a lot to say. Mads is an award-winning entrepreneur, business coach and author. She is also a researcher and lecturer at Webster University on entrepreneurship and leadership.

Mads grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and started her own consultancy business in South Africa. When she decided to move with her husband and three kids to the Netherlands, she licensed her business out and left that life behind.

"Having relocated to the Netherlands in 2007, I established the European operations and virtual warehousing for my sister’s Vancouver-based, organic pet food company. There were a number of challenges to overcome. Some were structural challenges and others were personal in nature, such as adapting to the culture and language.

For example, the Netherlands has very strict rules for organic imports. I invested a lot of effort to learn Dutch as soon as possible in order to establish new friendships and business networks to becoming familiar with the Dutch regulations and way of doing business. This happened whilst my kids were making a massive transition and required a lot of support.

Adjusting to the Dutch culture is also not easy. I come from a country that is a lot more communitarian whereas the Dutch really value independence and privacy. If you need help you will get it, but you will have to ask first! That happens not only in personal life but also in business development.

However, the opportunities my kids gained and the learning curve and quality of life in the Netherlands made it all worth it. We make a point of avoiding any stereotyping different cultures or "the Dutch" because that just leaves one feeling more separate from the immediate society. I've come to love and appreciate many things about living here."  

Opportunities for expat women entrepreneurs

With every challenge, there is an opportunity. This is especially true for expat women entrepreneurs, as observed by Dr. Yang Fan, Lecturer, Researcher, and Programme Coordinator for the Business & Management Programme at Webster University. Yang has been actively promoting women entrepreneurial activities together with the WBII and has witnessed the growth of expat women entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. 

"Whilst expats are new to the Dutch market, they bring with them knowledge from their home countries. For example, one of our Nigerian MBA students has started her own business in the fashion trade, offering Western-style clothes in original African print fabrics. Her knowledge about African culture and fashion styles gives her a clear edge over other fashion retailers."

In addition, people often start businesses because they are not happy with how things are currently working or see a gap in the market and want to improve it.

In some cases, such personal networks can become powerful business networks for women entrepreneurs to support each other, as is the case with Amsterdam Mamas.  

Current market situation

There are currently many entrepreneur training programmes in the Netherlands; however, very few are tailored for women expats. Language is an issue, but more importantly, women entrepreneurs demand more social support in addition to the necessary knowledge required for business development. 

Unlike male entrepreneurs, who usually prefer to work on their own to look for solutions, women entrepreneurs prefer to share their problems and pride in helping each other out. Such social report is largely missing in existing training programmes. 

Women Entrepreneur Development Programme

Webster University is offering all expat women the opportunity to join their very first women's entrepreneur development course. 

The course will be an intensive training programme over four consecutive Saturdays, starting June 3, 2017. It is open to all expat women, but preferences will be given to those who are serious about building up their businesses or have already started their businesses in the past two years.

The course will focus on four key areas of entrepreneurial business, namely the business model, marketing, finance, and lastly, leadership and collaboration. Each topic will take one intensive day to run, combining interactive seminars and workshops, with tea and lunch offered onsite.

In addition, students are offered with 5 bi-monthly coaching sessions in the first year, following the development programme or the setup of their businesses. 

For more information

If you are interested in the Women Entrepreneur Development Programme, please apply online.

For more information, please contact Dr. Yang Fan, Programme Coordinator for the Business & Management department at [email protected].

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