The Women Behind An Organisation for Women Entrepreneurs In Malta.
Since March we have featured a hand-picked selection of conversations with some pretty fierce females as part of our GITH Woman series. This month and every month hereafter, we will dig a little deeper with these phenomenal women and shed more light on them and the lives they lead.
The Foundation for Women Entrepreneurs is a networking facilitator for Maltese businesswomen and promotes entrepreneurial skills offering a range of services to foster the entrepreneurial spirit. It believes and realizes that all women in Malta and abroad especially in the European and Mediterranean regions have the right to be educated and receive equal opportunities in all aspects of their public and private life. Amen to that!
Angele Giuliano & Maryrose Francica
The foundation was founded and lead by two extraordinary women, Angele Guiliano and Maryrose Francica who have both worked on the project for over twenty years. These two long-time entrepreneurs work tirelessly to lobby for women’s rights, empowering, mentoring and training them with the tools and skills necessary for them to enter into the workforce and start their own businesses.
They care about combating domestic violence, encouraging women into politics, equalling the gender pay gap and improving child care facilities. They also consult on projects and business ideas and offer a wide range of courses throughout the year, for those that wish to become entrepreneurs and generally make a better life for themselves and their families.
These two warriors both have full-time jobs and work around the clock to fulfil their duties for FWE which is completely voluntary. This is their service to humankind. They really do deserve a medal (or ten).
Angele is a lecturer at the University of Malta and the President of the Foundation. She specialises in innovative business management and has been working in the e-business, e-learning and e-finance field for over nine years. Clearly equipped to offer sound advice, she runs several commercial companies is heavily involved in European projects and NGOs, and has even led a fifteen strong team to win the coveted Euro-Med Multimedia Award in 1998. She admits that sailing keeps her sane and the wind, sun and sea are her much needed saving grace when it comes to life-work balance.
Maryrose is the Executive Coordinator and her expertise lies in Events, Activities, Business Management and Entrepreneurship. As a single working mum with a partner living abroad, she knows the struggle. She started her career by holding a managerial position within a leading local company and was responsible for the smooth running of the administration. She then moved on to managing her own family business for eleven years. She was inspired to join FWE in 2004 as she was passionate about the promotion of the roles of women in society, gender issues and gender equality and since then she has held the position of Executive Coordinator. Her main role in the foundation is to coordinate its events and activities and manages the EU funded projects that the foundation is involved in. She represents the foundation at various conferences and events related to several European programmes on a local and European level and even finds time to run her own course “Promoting the Culture of Entrepreneurship”.
Together they have been responsible for many an accolade in their roles at FWE, one of the biggest they recalled, was getting a bill passed so women returning to work after a five-year stint, didn’t pay tax for at least three years. Worthy. And they also smiled as they remembered helping over one hundred disabled people get back into work. Both humble in their own right, it was clear that this was just the tip of the iceberg although Maryrose did admit to having a spot for poor musicians (her son being Andrew from Tribali). “I can’t pass a busker on the street without donating.‘ She laughed. ‘We have helped many a musician access funds for their creative projects.’
Since Covid everything has gone online and their lives have got even busier. Angele explained; ‘Everything has become so fast. We go from meeting to meeting, without the break that we used to have before when we were travelling to and from them. We have both travelled week in week out for over fifteen years and only this year, I have started to appreciate what was coined before as‘the lost time’. She continues; ‘That time was actually necessary time to think, find yourself, plan, to find some peace. To have Airline Mode on so your phone finally stops ringing! Now it just doesn’t happen.’ It’s back to back Zooms and everybody knows you are at home working!
So why do it? What is it that drives these girls forward and stops them huffing and puffing at the next tirade of emails that flood through their inbox?
Angele laughs. ‘Someone has to do it!’ I sensed fatigue and that is hardly surprising after two decades of service. She continued, ‘We’ve always wanted to give the self-confidence to women to become entrepreneurs. Women of all ages, teenagers fresh out of university, mothers, nanna’s – everyone!’ Angele started her own business at 21 and had no one to turn to when it came to help. ‘Due to my nature, I kept going, but all along asking myself ‘WHY?” Understanding a little of her nature there is no doubt it my mind that she fought hard. “If you can build it do it!” she smiled.
This now seems more important than ever in light of the world’s pandemic, but over two decades they have found continually, that the main reason women don’t start anything is because they are holding themselves back. Whatever their age. Sound familiar? Therefore the FWE takes a practical approach and offers workshops, conferences and training to offer a grassroots belief system that is ingrained in their psyche and in turn, they believe in themselves enough to let go of that narrative, and start something they are proud of.
The FWE are responsible for events such as; SME Week, Women MEAN business, and although they face the usual challenges of time and money, their work is continuously rewarded when they see students and course attendee’s flourish in their own ventures.
Maryrose exclaims ‘I don’t want to see one woman in Malta or Gozo not financially independent. I’m not saying everyone has to be multi-millionaires, but if you can bake a cake, you can make money, you know? This made me smile. ‘It gives me a lot of satisfaction seeing people whom we have helped, running their own successful business.’ Wishing for each woman to be sustainable, and self-sufficient is a fine motive.
At the end of every year, Angele has a chat with her Auditor, who obviously goes on about balance sheet and values, profit and losses, and she recounts, at the beginning those figures were extremely depressing she recalls. But now she has a new way of self-motivation. She started her own balance sheet – but a social one. Her Social Balance Sheet is a non-monetary idea based on the actions of people and her achievements that have made a difference. It’s very personal and she share’s it with no one, but every time she looks at it it makes her feel better and gives her what she needs to carry on.
How can you get involved with FWE?
If you would like to become a member or get involved in some way, or you may know someone who may benefit from this wonderful service…you can contact Maryrose or Angele via the FWE website.