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Networking for Algarve  women in business

by EMMA BERTENSHAW [email protected]

To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, the Algarve Resident spoke to members of the Algarve Women’s Business Network to find out how the group is helping business women in the community.

Many companies in the Algarve are small and medium enterprises (SME) and with times being lean it helps to find advice and support available out there in the local community.

By meeting with other business owners and operators working in the same region, there is the chance to learn from others in what could otherwise be a limited or even isolated environment.

Helen Jones has been running her own marketing business in the Algarve, Pelican Marketing, for three years and is involved in organising meetings for the Algarve Women’s Business Network (AWBN).

“I found this a very useful resource in order to build business contacts when I first started in the Algarve,” she says.

The network has been around for quite a number of years as a resource open to all women, regardless of whether they run their own business or are employees, in an effort to open up communication and opportunities across the region.

“We get people from all types of business including graphic design, marketing, retail and telecommunications among others. We also have retired business women who are able to offer their own insights from past experience or provide current contacts, which are really valuable.”

Creating the opportunity for frank discussion about business prospects and ideas, the events take place across the Algarve in different locations where possible.

Anyone is welcome to organise an event as it is open to suggestions from newcomers who would like to participate.

Fiona Butler works with My Destination Algarve, an online travel resource, and has lived in the area for 21 years.

“Many people now work from home or remotely and the networking is a useful and friendly way to meet new connections,” she says.

With the relaxed and informal way that people can meet at the AWBN, Fiona thinks it is a good format. With no fees to join, the only pre-requisite is an interest to connect and work with others.

Events are sometimes arranged with speakers or, as in the last event, with an open networking session.

As was the case at this recent event, Helen said there were some businesses seeking information about finding suppliers or customers but also some women who were looking for advice on finding relevant staff.

This type of situation could prove crucial in particular for those seeking work, but for most people it is a relevant opportunity to get to know other businesses in the area.

Suzi Steinhofel from Design Works! is another involved member who has been with the network for 15 years. She says that while the network used to be a formal association, the current network appeals to more people as it is less intimidating and more accessible.

Furthermore, while the network has been running for a long time, the attendance can vary from long time residents to newcomers and this fluidity makes it more interesting to interact in.

The fact that the meetings are open to all women, regardless of their role, makes it an affordable, accessible and inclusive event attracting a broad range of international and Portuguese women alike.

For interested newcomers, a ‘speed networking’ event is to take place on April 12.

Working on the same concept as ‘speed dating’, participants have just one minute to introduce themselves, their business and what they are looking for.

In a short space of time, it enables a large group to get to know each other quickly and thus get to know who they are most likely to want to speak with.

For more information about joining the Algarve Women’s Business Network (AWBN), see their LinkedIn page or contact Helen Jones on [email protected] or 914 563 407.

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