Last week the U.S. Embassy in Podgorica hosted a speaker tour around Montenegro with an entrepreneurship expert, Samira Cook Gaines.
Samira Cook Gaines co-runs Global Empowerment Solutions (http://www.globalempowerment-us.com/), an organization dedicated to creating sustainable entrepreneur eco-systems through partnerships, programming, and policy. Prior to running Global Empowerment Solutions, Samira was the founding director of the award-winning Women’s Business Center in Washington, D.C., which supports women entrepreneurs through training, counseling, mentoring, and business growth.
Samira started her tour in Montenegro by participating at a UNDP panel discussion addressing different models of mentoring for women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey were inspired and empowered by Samira’s real-life success stories and her practical advice for overcoming obstacles and seizing opportunities.
Samira also met that first day with members of the Union of Young Entrepreneurs of Montenegro for a workshop at the American Corner Podgorica. The workshop was focused around relatable, real life examples of business owners facing challenges in establishing and managing a business. “Entrepreneurs get misunderstood a lot,” Samira said, while encouraging the participants to persist in achieving their dreams.
The Embassy-supported program, Access Podgorica, also welcomed Samira at the American Corner Podgorica. Samira shared with the students interesting examples of businesses started by young people in the United States. In addition to practicing their English skills, the students learned what resources they need to start a business and how to write a great business plan.
In Cetinje, Samira met with a high school entrepreneurship group at the American Corner Cetinje. She challenged them to find solutions to problems they have identified in their communities. Those solutions, she said, can be the start of a great business venture.
Traveling to the south, Samira met women entrepreneurs from Bar and Virpazar and encouraged them to see challenges as opportunities to grow improve their business operations. She said that many successful Americans have embraced their failures and gone on to great achievements. Failures, she said, can help us find our way to our true passions. “Failing forward is what we like to say in America,” Samira added in her concluding remarks to a workshop hosted by Business Start up Center Bar.
We concluded Samira’s tour by heading north to Berane and Pljevlja. Samira was amazed with the North’s potential for economic development. She was particularly impressed with the participants at a workshop hosted by the Regional Business Center and the Regional Development Agency for Bjelasica, Komovi, and Prokletije.
On the final day of the tour, Samira met with Mayor Djacic in Pljevlja and visited the Hussein Pasha Mosque and its Shadrvan, which was restored with funds from the U.S. Embassy Podgorica back in 2007. Later, at the American Corner Pljevlja, Samira spoke about passion as the main fuel for a business.
“What are you passionate about?” Samira asked the audience. “Think about it.”