The feeling of connecting with an old friend can make it seem like the two of you were never apart and can even make the bond stronger than ever. When Teresa Meares took over as National Board Chair of the NAWBO Institute for Entrepreneurial Development in 2016, a focus was put on re-establishing NAWBO’s longstanding partnership with Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises Mondiales (FCEM), a bond which had slightly faded due to various changes in leadership throughout the years.
Conversations between Teresa, NAWBO National CEO Jen Earle, FCEM past outgoing World President Laura Frati Gucci and Incoming World President Marie-Christine Oghly helped lead to NAWBO hosting the 2018 FCEM World Committee Meeting in New York City on April 12-14, which will mark the first time in three decades this event has been held in the United States.
Now, after a successful run with NAWBO National—beginning in 2013 as a Director on the Board of Directors and concluding as the Immediate Past Chair in 2018—Teresa will be elevating women business owners on a global level as a new Vice President of FCEM. She is teaming with Jen—who Teresa says offers immense support, encouragement and partnership—and NAWBO Institute for Entrepreneurial Development Immediate Past Chair Crystal Arredondo to “figure out what direction FCEM needs to go, what direction is most beneficial for NAWBO and what direction is most beneficial for other organizations.”
FCEM, an organization committed to uniting women business owners from around the world, spans over 120 countries and five continents. Teresa’s new role starts with understanding women business owners on an international level—specifically some of the similarities and differences between owning a business in the United States versus owning a business in another country. “We all have the same struggle, but it’s a matter of what we have accessible to us here in the United States,” she says. “A lot of women business owners in the United States don’t feel the need to export or look at other markets because we have so much available to us.
“One of the challenges I’ve seen from the women I’ve talked to in other countries is that their market is not as large as the United States’ and they feel like they can only go so far,” she adds. “We need to figure out how to allow these women access to our country and for the women who want to do business outside of the U.S., how to encourage them to look outside of the borders and support women business owners in other countries.”
Teresa’s first plan of attack is to send a detailed survey to FCEM members internationally to find out shared commonalities and ways the organization can improve as well as assisting Marie-Christine in figuring out business owners’ needs around the globe. After that’s accomplished, Teresa says the process of building educational programs, creating outlines and building relationships to foster their goals will take place.
Teresa already has big plans she hopes to accomplish during her four-year term. “My goal is to build a full online, virtual environment that translates to all languages so that all FCEM members have access to our entrepreneurial educational institute in their language with educational pieces they need to go and strive in their country,” she says.
If her time with NAWBO National and her experience as President of DGG Uniform and Apparel is any indication of how she’ll do at her new venture, Teresa will surely leave a lasting impression.
“I’m excited about building the relationship between FCEM and NAWBO again and I’m excited about being the person helping to lead the way,” Teresa says. “At NAWBO, I feel my team brought a breath of fresh air and re-energized our members and organizations we collaborated with. I’m most proud of how the board worked so hard together and my goal is for that to continue when I step off.”
For more information about FCEM, click here.