Polish American Women Entrepreneurs (PAWE) is working with Cultural Vistas to make the voices of women in business across Central Europe strong enough to reach across the Atlantic with the USA-Central Europe Women in Business Summit taking place October 17 at the Tribeca Rooftop in New York City.
We are eager to cultivate opportunities for women in business across all of Central Europe and the USA and have established an Honorary Committee to help organize this important event, including the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Washington, D.C. as well as the Consulates General of Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Hungary in New York.
By convening over 350 individuals representing governments, international associations supporting women in business, and business leaders from Fortune 500 companies to startups, the USA-Central Europe Women in Business Summit promises to be the largest and most important event of its kind.
An Event For, Not About, Women in Business
I assumed the responsibility of leading the Polish American Women Entrepreneurs (PAWE) in the belief that expanding transatlantic opportunities for women was the best way to contribute to the growth and development of both my native country and the USA.
I know that providing a platform for women is a powerful driver of economic development as much from my own personal experiences as from widely-publicized research. According to estimates from the Council on Foreign Relations, closing the gender gap in the workforce could add a staggering $28 trillion to the global GDP.
I also know that not all platforms are created equal. For the USA-Central Europe Women in Business Summit, we wanted to plan an event where women would come to actually do business in addition to talking about it.
With that in mind, the Honorary Committee is arranging for breakouts to follow most Summit sessions. There will also be opportunities for one-on-one meetings with panelists and country representatives throughout the event. Guests will be able to consolidate several days’ worth of planning and attending meetings into a few hours of productive networking.
Since many of the change-makers attending our event rarely sit still in the same place for long, we expect that these efforts will save our attendees plenty of time and money!
It also won’t be hard to find the right people with whom to connect. Topical sessions will have a clear focus, allowing members of certain industries to attend sessions which are relevant to them, and avoid those which aren’t.
A Transatlantic Summit Built on Transatlantic Partnerships
True to form, two female-led organizations are heading the efforts in organizing the Summit.
PAWE’s on-the-ground experience in fostering business relations is an ideal complement to Cultural Vistas’ 55+ years of experience in implementing career-oriented international exchange programs, which includes 20,000 alumni from Central Europe. Together with the country representatives on the Honorary Committee and the support of several organizations across the United States committed to investing in opportunities for women in business, it’s difficult to imagine a more qualified group organizing this important event.
Thanks to these diverse backgrounds and networks, we are able to provide a program offering substantive discussions and business opportunities for all attendees. Sessions will cover a range of topics and industries, with a focus on entrepreneurship, finance, tech, and investment.
Summit guests from various industries will come together during breakouts and sessions of mutual interest. For instance, women in tech may or may not attend sessions about the finance industry—but all sides will want come together for an opportunity to establish cross-industry partnerships during the trade and investment opportunity spotlight.
Regardless of industry or occupation, those who attend the USA-Central Europe Women in Business Summit will be able to connect with fellow influencers, create career pathways for themselves or others, and advance female-led entrepreneurship.
Importantly, the Summit will also provide opportunities for women to share the highlights, successes, and important business initiatives which have made such an event possible.
Why USA—Central Europe
Giving women a voice and platform is a powerful driver of economic growth and innovation, and Central Europe is uniquely poised to take advantage of this growth.
Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary are among the EU’s fastest-growing economies and the highest rates of female-led businesses in Europe are in Poland (30.3%), Hungary (28.1%), Switzerland (25.5%), and Germany (25.3%).
Considering this growth across the region, it shouldn’t surprising to note that a whopping 88 percent of European startups are planning to expand internationally into one or more countries—meaning that now is also the perfect time to provide female-led Central European businesses with an opportunity to engage with their counterparts across the Atlantic.
The benefits of these transatlantic connections don’t necessarily favor one side. In fact, wage gaps in countries like Slovenia, Poland, and Hungary are lower than those in the USA—and provide an example for how traditional outlooks on gender can shift in a relatively short amount of time.
Even Central European countries that suffer gender inequities in some areas are seeing the tides change in other ways. Perhaps spurred by inequity elsewhere, the number of women launching their own businesses in the Czech Republic has risen significantly in recent years, increasing by 30,000 between 2012–2015. Also surprising is the fact that women in Hungary are more likely to be in leadership positions at larger enterprises and micro-firms than SMEs.
This is likely due to the fact that the barriers to entry are based more-so on education and experience than gender norms.
Sharing Success As Well As Opportunity
Though women still have a long way to go in achieving gender equality, we have already come a long way—and this is important to recognize and celebrate!
In addition to a substantive agenda geared toward productive dialogue and real opportunities for investment, the USA-Central Europe Women in Business Summit will be an opportunity for transatlantic women in business to share and celebrate achievements from respective sides of the pond.
Sessions led by representatives from associations and governments will leave no doubt as to the effects of increased female labor force participation and the positive economic influence that women have made on their respective national economies in the last few decades.
Guests will hear inspiring stories from female founders across various sectors and, most importantly, have opportunities to meet and learn from their counterparts (or heroes) in person.
Amid the many insights into market opportunities in the USA and Central Europe throughout the Summit, guests may even find themselves having a bit of fun as the event progresses.
From the moment guests arrive at the penthouse of Tribeca Rooftop, they will enjoy refreshments, stunning views of Lower Manhattan, as well as the service and care expected of such a prestigious event.
And as much as we will encourage guests to attend the Summit ready to do business, we will also encourage them to enjoy the moment and what such an event represents.
After all, women are no longer seeking opportunities to do business at all, we’re seeking opportunities to do it more effectively. After centuries of fighting for opportunities to improve the economy and make a living for our families in the way we are now—I think we have earned the right to enjoy it.