AWLO2020: Women Leaders Working Together to Achieve Innovative Performance
Updated: Aug 27
The Women Executive and Potential Leaders Symposium organized under the patronage of the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, an initiative by the African Women in Leadership Organization (AWLO), Cameroon Chapter, in collaboration with Local Youth Corner – Cameroon and UN Women, saw its first edition this August 22nd, 2020 at Djeuga Palace from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM. This first edition had as theme, “Women Leaders Working Together to Achieve Innovative Performance.” The symposium sought to connect mentors and mentees for a year’s mentorship program for the purpose of skills development in leadership, enlarging the platform of opportunities and sharing between the older leaders and the younger leaders.
The conference opened with a welcome address from the president of AWLO Cameroon Chapter, Bertha Yenwo. She sought to identify the problems women face in leadership by answering four key questions:
Can women leaders work together?
Have women leaders been working together and if not, what has prevented them?
How can women leaders work together?
How can working together take us forward?
Afterwards, in a keynote address from the representative of the Minister of Scientific Research and Innovation, she opined that, “There is a need to mentor the younger generation to successfully fill the gap that exists between them and the older generation”. She concluded by applauding the actions of the older generation mentoring the younger generation.
The symposium saw the participation of female leaders from different leadership backgrounds and some male leaders which therefore reinforced the notion of men and women coming together for the growth of women. Thereafter, the representative of the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, in the official opening remarks, thanked the men who accompanied the women leaders to the symposium and encouraged the alliance between men and women for the growth of women. In her words, “ Sans l’homme la femme n’est rien et sans la femme, l’homme tourne en rond”. As a booster to women, she said; “Les dames, osez! Libérez vos talents et innovez ! … Pour qu’une femme soit leader, il faut d’abord qu’elle se connaisse bien … elle doit avoir confiance en elle-même.” On these energetic notes, she officially declared the symposium open.
The Open Dreams Team with the AWLO president
The core of the symposium saw the first-panel discussion on the theme ‘Promoting a Culture of Innovation for good performance in an organization’. This panel session was moderated by the Country Coordinator of Local Youth Corner -Cameroon, Christian Achaleke. The panel took off with a paper presentation from the representative of the UN Women on the topic, ‘Roles and Importance of Innovation on leadership’, during which the following needs and challenges were highlighted;
Limited market awareness and innovation;
Low reward profile in investing in innovation for women and girls;
Need for gender analytical tools;
Need for more gender responses, inclusive approach;
Leadership in innovation with technology etc.
In the discussion proper with Christian Achaleke, she unveiled some of the challenges of how a fellow woman has been able to pull another woman out by emphasizing that women are always afraid of taking initiatives and doing what is wrong in the eyes of others. She assured the participants that UN Women will accompany AWLO in achieving the goals of this initiative. She concluded by sharing some programmes for women;
She Innovates Global Program;
Connect Women Innovators;
Buy from Women (a platform for women farmers) etc.
The second-panel discussion welcomed four panelists; Roland Formundam (Green House Ventures), Martha Monono (Empowering young ladies to empower themselves), Dr. Diana Nfondoum (Moringa Medicinal Plant) and Olivia Mukam Wandji (Harambe-Cameroon). The theme for this session was ‘Managing an innovation to achieve good performance in an organization’, however, each panelist had specific topics of discussion. Olivia Mukam Wandji talked on ‘Identifying and overcoming barriers in innovation’, thereby exposing the challenges hindering innovations within an association. She noted that these challenges are often faced at the level of one’s knowledge of the market, customers, networks, human resources, communication management, his or her strength and weaknesses etc. She observed that it is all about being customer-centered and selling them the solution. The next panelist, Dr Diane Nfondoum spoke about ‘Facing competition as a leader’, and answered these questions: -how does competitive leadership in society promote innovation?
-how can female leaders be at the top of competition amidst Covid-19 pandemic?
Drawing from her experience in her venture into moringa medicinal plant, she explained, “La compétition n’est pas la guerre. Il faut connaître tes compétiteurs et propose ce qu’ils en n’ont pas.” To her, since the aim is to help the community, there is no need fighting with your competitor. As a business person, it is good to be open-minded, have different plans and think of the unthinkable.
Martha Monono dwelled on the psychological challenges women face in innovation and ways through which female leaders can manage extra loads from home and work. In her discussion, she examined the skills in managing stress and creating a good support system. She highlighted that we need to work on our self-esteem and liberate ourselves from negative energy.
The Open Dreams Delegation with Acha Leke of Local Youth Corner
The last panelist, Roland Formundam, focused on ‘Innovation and Sustainability with Business Performance and means of monitoring success'. Through his storytelling of the early beginnings of Green House Ventures, he laid emphases on the need to have a brand, to rebrand, to have a brand that is inclusive, to have a sustainable project, and to study the market and accept critiques and reviews.
The discussion session ended with an Open Panel for sharing experiences on the outcomes of innovation. Mireille Adomo moderated this session and the panelists were Pr. Uphie Chinje Melo, Wellisane Mokwe Nkeng, Fatimatou Iyawa (participated via Skype) and Nathelie Tekam. Each panelist talked about their experiences as women in their different domains and how they were able to overcome challenges, innovate and make a difference. From their presentation, the following could be noted; -determination despite the challenges they faced;
-originality in tackling them while finding sustainable solutions;
-collaborating with different stakeholders, and
-staying true to their vision.
With such a ray of hope for the future of women’s growth, the president of AWLO officially opened the last panel, the AWLO Mentorship Platform. Thus, the next step on the action plan was the matching of mentees to mentors which led to the mentors having first contact with their mentees. The Open Dreams team present were assigned to their distinguish mentors with the exception of Nnane Anna Ntube, who was selected as a mentor, thanks to her vast accomplishments as a leader.
The symposium ended on a light note with picture taking and networking sessions.
Report by the Open Dreams Delegation,
- Sandrine Kinsa, Nnane Ntube, Anestin Chi, Love Achondo, Ayuba Garba, Nakita Myriam & Eleih Elle Etian Jr .