Top Advice of 2013 From Women in Emerging Economies

Top career business advice from successful women in emerging economies 2013 The Way Women WorkWe estimate there are 100 million highly educated women entrepreneurs and professionals at work in diverse sectors in developing and emerging economies.

These women are CEOs, entrepreneurs, managers, founders, investors, presidents and visionaries. They are changing their economies, communities, countries, and the way business is done; they are set on making a difference and paving the way for generations to come; they are not only transforming their local economies but the global economy – which is poised – watching, and waiting to harness their potential.

We hear enough in the media about the obstacles women around the world face, which is why we choose to focus primarily on their successes, advice, and the ways they work around their obstacles – they are a beacon to other women around the world.

This year we’ve personally interviewed more than a hundred women in emerging economies. It is these women and as well as our global audience of aspiring professionals who inspire and motivate us on a daily basis. As we all approach 2014 with higher hopes and bigger dreams, may you glean the wisdom from these remarkable entrepreneurs and corporate women from Africa, Middle East, China, Russia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and India in 2013:


“Entrepreneurship is similar to motherhood. It doesn’t come with a manual. You go with your gut feeling, and believe that you are good at what you do.” – Christine Khasinah-Odero, Founder at SupaMamas, Kenya

“To become an entrepreneur – get rid of your TV. The TV had filled our lives with noise. In the silence, we could hear our thoughts, our dreams. It’s about minimizing distractions, about reducing the noise, so you can focus on your work. It changed our lives.” – Unmana Datta, Co-founder of Markitty, India

“Fear of mistakes is the greatest enemy. But anyone who learns something new makes mistakes. In your errors you discover solutions that weren’t in your original plan or project. If you survive your  mistake, you will only learn from it. There is a balance of being self-critical and allowing yourself to repair. If you put pressure on  yourself to do it perfect, pride will enter. If you are not making mistakes, I would be worried about you! Movement produces movement. Take it step by step.” – Marta Harff,  Entrepreneur/Proprietor at Perfumum Bue, Argentina

“Rejection won’t kill you. If someone doesn’t respond to you, then all it means is that the time has not yet come for you to work with them.” – Wee Yen Lim, Founder of Conspiracion Moda, Mexico

“Look to other successful women and their examples and to not be afraid to dream big. It is important for you to believe that ultimately you will be able to make it on your own and be independent. Life is too short to be little…I totally live by this.” – Rosa Maria Marte,  Founder & CEO at Green Art Market, Dominican Republic

“My advice to other women…who also want to create a job or business, would be to get in touch with other entrepreneurs (female and male); get in touch with incubators. Take time and learn, watch internet courses on startups and business, and business development. Just TRY! Don’t be scared. If you don’t have an alternative, you have nothing else to lose.” – Ana Kolarević, Founder and CEO of Sizem, Croatia

“In the end, follow your heart and don’t wait for anyone to encourage or clap for your success; your passion and faith is the best fuel for your dreams and goals.” – Afnan Ali, Electrical Engineer, Developer of TEPLO, Jordan

“Listen to your heart by making time to think about what you want. Write it down. Then make a plan that is aligned with your authentic self. Take care of your personal life, your family, relationships and what matters most to you.” –  Fabiola Benavente, Founder of Changemakers Forward, Mexico

“Get used to people giving you ‘the LOOK’  – doubting you, looking at you – questioning. Develop tough skin, let it slide. Don’t take it personally because if you dwell on it, it will eat you up. Just laugh about it and don’t take it to heart. Never give up!” – Regina Agyare,  Founder at Soronko Solutions, Ghana

“The key to having a successful business is PASSION. There is not enough money to hold your business together if you don’t have passion. Never stop believing in yourself and in your dreams. It is never too late to start a new project.” – Dafnee de Frias, Founder of DAF Fitness Fun, Dominican Republic


“I understand that success is a process. It doesn’t just happen but happens only when you deliver consistently more than is expected of you. It must be cultivated.” – Adeshola Komolafe, CEO of Media Insights, Nigeria

“Your success will be affected by the following: Risks you take, opportunities you pursue, challenges you tackle, and your confidence level.” – May Khoury, Owner of Badr Adduja, Artist, Designer, Jordan

“In my opinion there is nothing unattainable in our life. The main thing is to have a clear understanding of what you want and how it’s possible to achieve it.” – Polina Gushcha, CEO at Coface Russia, Russia

“Identify opportunities and be brave enough to ask.” – Jennifer Cheung, Journalist for British recruitment consultancy and Forbes contributor, Hong Kong

“Challenges are the best part, because that is when you grow. When you face a problem, and turn it into an opportunity.”- Lucero Franco, Business Process and Logistics Sr. Manager at FoxConn, Mexico

“Network frequently. Each interaction, each opportunity, each professional or personal moment may be an important moment share.” – Sandra Portugal, IT Relationship Senior Manager at Oi /Telemar, Founder of Projetando Pessoas, Brazil

“The path to success, for women, lies squarely in their ability to take the road less traveled and to take risk along that journey.” – Wendy Luhabe, Co-Founder of Women Investment Portfolio Holdings, South Africa

No matter where you live, don’t be deterred or let anyone tell you that you won’t or can’t be the manager or boss because you are a woman. If you want to be in charge, look for the opportunity and take action to capitalize on it. – Lessons with Fatma Lotfy, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Bank Audi, Egypt

“Most women see someone successful and say ‘Ah, that would be very nice!’, but then that is all. They do not look and seize the opportunities. ” – Denise Abulafia, PhD, Co-Founder & CEO of Educatina, Argentina

“There is no shortcut in life. if you are to excel in anything you do, you have to work hard. But more importantly, work smart! Plan your schedule, prioritize and meet every deadline you set for yourself. There is no excuse! No one can deliver you success except yourself.” – Mwamvita Makamba, Business Performance Partner: Corporate Affairs for Vodacom International Business & Trustee at Vodafone Foundation, South Africa

“When your Plan A doesn’t materialize, something better often will.” – Melek Pulatkonak, works on the Strategic & Emerging Business Team at Microsoft, Founder of TurkishWIN, Turkey

“Evolve and reinvent yourself every now and then; or else, stagnate and eventually cease to be.” – Kanchana Banerjee, Founder of Writeword, India

“I attribute my courage and career path to a longing for the best and the search of my authentic self. I am guided by a quote from Rachel Andrews, ‘The more of me I be, the clearer I can see.’” – Marwah Aziz, Investor at Basha Group and Architect, Yemen

“I do not believe that my mistakes define me. I am also not afraid to say ‘I do not know’ – teach me.” – Tantaswa Fubu, Partner and Executive Head of People (HR) at KPMG, South Africa


“If there is one thing that modern career women in China can do better to help themselves succeed, it is to have more confidence and be brave to experiment with new things.” – Michelle Wang, Marketing Director at Capvision Partners, China

“Even as more families encourage women to have a career, there is apprehension about pursuing a career that is seen as high-pressure or demanding. For example, I have heard of women who are dissuaded from entering mechanical engineering because ‘the class will be full of boys,’ or journalism, which is ‘too dangerous for women.’ Support has to be about enabling her to succeed in something that truly interests her.” – Aparna Vedapuri Singh, Editor of Women’s Web, India

“I’d like to help and encourage girls to take up a career in tech, and hopefully pass on that courageous spirit for generations to come.” – Angela Oduor, Co-founder of AkiraChix, Software Developer at Ushahidi, Kenya

“Sometimes it looks like the society does not expect [you] to portray a strong professional women image…So being smart professional women might look like being a man, which is not welcome in both family or society. [But], don’t try to be a man. Women have better soft skills to help solve problems in their own “women way.” – Yvonne Chow, Senior Director, Asia CS & PS at Polymer Group Inc (PGI), China

“[I am] a part of several steering committees, events and studies in a continual effort to provide a leadership and serve as an example of women’s capabilities and empowerment to young women in [Oman] today.” – Nisreen Ahmed Jaffer, Director General of Promotion Investment at The Public Authority for Investment Promotion & Export Development, Oman

“In a world that embraces crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, it is time for crowd influencing. Women can collectively influence personal and workplace wellness in order to sustain the acceleration of women in business.” – Lavinia Sonnenberg, Founder of Wellness Future Mx, South Africa


“Looking back, I have concluded that the most significant influence on my success both personally and as a leader has come from sports. Playing sports from an early age is the best way to learn about discipline, teamwork and leadership and to build a positive attitude.” – Renata Pessoa, Managing Director at Accenture, Brazil

“I always had a dream about working as a journalist, but never planned it as I think the job is very challenging. I have Dr. Gorden Berger, a history professor and my graduate advisor…to thank. He inspired me by encouraging me to follow my heart and pursue my true passion.” – Zhen Trudy Wang, Journalist at Caijing Magazine, China

“I am inspired by people who have built successful enterprises around their true passions. As  Confucius once said, ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’” – Ritu Uberoy, Co-founder of RivoKids, India

“I am hungry to be someone, hungry for life and hungry to make difference in the world.” – Viviane Goncalves, Chef & Owner of Chef Vivi, Brazil


“I do most of my work from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm while my kids are at school. I am very dedicated and motivated to be able to work from the comfort of my home. I set internal deadlines for myself and try my best to deliver on them. Evenings are mostly spent with family doing kids homework, after school classes, and playing board games with intermittent work related mails and phone calls. I typically like to keep my weekends completely work-free with occasional exceptions now and then due to a deadline.” – Parul Mittal, Co-founder of RivoKids, India

“Don’t let them tell you if it is possible to have it all or not. How could somebody possibly know what is “all” to you? And why we are torturing ourselves with this question anyway? Have you ever seen a male-oriented article with this “having it or not having it all” bullshit (pardon my language)? It is very individual, and it depends on dozens of factors which sometimes you can, and sometimes you can’t, influence. You just adapt the best possible way you can in order to make your life worth living.” – Gordana Frgačić, Author & Human Resource Manager, Croatia

“Rather than staring at my obstacles or whining about it, I find a solution to jump over it, or sometimes use it to my advantage. For example, I have two kids. Rather than trying to look for a babysitter or thinking about where to leave the kids while I’m gone, I just involve my kids in everything I do. That way, we spend more time with each other, the kids learn a lot and of course I get done with my work as well.” – Smitha Deepak, Founder and CEO of The Green Creation, Inc., India

What is the key to YOUR professional success? Leave a comment below, send us a note here, or via Twitter or Facebook . We’d love to share your experience to inspire and guide women all over the world. Wishing you great success in 2014!

Erin Risner

Director of Community Engagement

Writer. Creative. Brand Strategist. Content Curator. Social Media and Marketing Maven. Passionate about connecting with women around the world and telling their success stories.