INSPIREUS! 2nd newletter

“Your inner strength is irreplaceable. You can be whatever you want as soon as you are happy with it”

Susana Carvalho, CEO di Wunderman & Thomson

During the 3 day-workshop in the amazing city of Lisbon, successful women entrepreneurs who shared their stories to inspire other women to find their inner motivation and start their own business were a key part of the development of the Inspire Us Women Entrepreneurship Online Programme that is addressed to all those skilled women who would like to launch their entrepreneurial idea but first need to boost their motivation and overcome their fears.

The development of the Women Entrepreneurship Online Programme was an integral part of the “Train the Trainers” training programme of the training programme of the Inspire Us project, attended by each member of the partner organisations and hosted by Teresa Valente and Catarina Gonzales at StoryTellMe on 11th - 13th November 2019.

The main aim of this training activity was to train participants to be involved as trainers in the workshop seminars called “Show Me the Path”- Inspire Us”, which will be organised in the next months in Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia and Germany and which will be addressed to aspiring women entrepreneurs who would like to know and use the Entrepreneurship Programme developed within the Inspire Us project.

In Lisbon, the trainees met amazing women entrepreneurs and learnt about their success stories. Let’s meet them and let’s get inspired by their resilience, perseverance and visionary approach!

Emmanuella Afonso, founder of the Lusodescendant Observatory, born in France from Portuguese parents, set her own association in Lisbon after many years spent as manager in multinational companies, when eventually she realised that her purpose in life was to support other people, who like her faced the return to Portugal after many years spent abroad, or as second generation citizens. Her motivation brought her to quit a successful career and start her great entrepreneurial path. When asked about her plan for future, with a spark in her eyes, she answered: “I am planning to go to Chile for our year and join the women entrepreneurs programme there. I will try to start a new entrepreneurial path there”. Best Luck Emmanuella!

Catarina Soares, a very creative woman entrepreneur who never stops transforming her ideas into something new and useful to others. At the beginning of our meeting, Catarina said: “I was raised in a family when nobody was an entrepreneur, so I had no role models and I was raised being said to have no creativity at all”. After studying in Amsterdam and in the USA where she was surrounded by very creative and motivated start-uppers and young entrepreneurs, and after spend 5 years in Angola, in 2015 she decided to come back to Lisbon and start her own business here. Her dream was to create a business that could have a positive impact for the society and so she started creating the ManiPedi, in 2016 the Historic Oeiras, renovation and rentals, in 2018 INSEAD Gender Diversity Program and Leading Together, the first conference aimed at bringing awareness to the challenges and benefits of true gender balance in organizations. Quite creative for a person who was said not to have creativity at all, isn’t it?

Manuela Carlos, founder of ETIC Group, a great educational group based on the creativity sector that this year celebrates its 25th anniversary. Former successful actress, she moved to Spain where she grew the desire to start her own business and after facing many initial difficulties, once back in Lisbon, she finally succeeded in only 6 months to set her first school. In 25 years, she became a very successful entrepreneur and her schools are very famous in Portugal. At her schools, students can learn all the disciplines of the creative sectors: photography, fashion design, video making, cinema, music, styling and make up, journalism and much more.

Mafalda Mendes de Almeida, founder with her daughter Carolina Almeida Cruz of SAPANA, , a Portuguese NGO, founded in 2012 with the aim of supporting the inmates to lay the foundation of their new life. This entrepreneurial idea came to life in 2010 when Carolina lived in Tibet, Nepal and India helping orphans. Once back home in Portugal, she decided to give her positive contribution to the society and although all the difficulties, she never gave up her dream. In 2014 this successful organisation was acknowledged by the Grameen Bank (Muhammad Yunus Foundation) as an example of social economy. When asked about the difficulties that she and Carolina may have faced during their path, Mafalda said: “The inner voice speaks louder, no matter what the obstacles are.”

Inês Monteiro, a young aspiring entrepreneur that decided to quit her safe well-paid job and learn how to start her entrepreneurial path. She stated: “I was lucky, I had my family to support me in my decision”. Now she works in an innovative youth association called Movimento Trasformers, base in Porto. Through the team’s individual “superpowers” (acting, dance, cooking, breakdance, swim, leadership, communication, public skills), they aim to impact positively the society they live in and train young people coming from difficult contexts. Inês is now planning to start her own association despite all the difficulties she may face. “Resilience is crucial”, as she said. We wish Inês very good luck!

Camila Rodriguez, founder of Mulheres à Obra (Women in Actions) in 2017. With this NGO this very motivated entrepreneur aims at promoting cooperation among women entrepreneurs with the belief that mutual support produces benefits that transcend profit as it fosters social, economic and environmental sustainability, while it nurtures civic awareness, empathy and mutual respect. In 2019 Mulheres à Obra was awarded by the Women Economic Forum with the “Iconic Women/ Leaders Creating a Better World for All -Associations that Work”award.

Susana Carvalho, CEO at Wunderman & Thomson, the creative company that deals with marketing and advertising. Very motivated, inspired and constantly open to innovations and to discover new horizons, Susana has reached many important goals in her professional career and she is also very sensitive to important issues such as sustainability and environment. Now she is already thinking of starting a new business path and face new exciting challenges. We are pretty sure very soon she will offer us new inspirational ideas. As she stated: “never look back, always go ahead!”

As a result of the training event in Lisbon, the partners of the Inspire us project returned home enriched with inspiration, motivation and with a deeper knowledge of the key factors that can help aspiring women entrepreneurs grow their motivation and start their own business. Furthermore, the training explored how the partnership can support aspiring women entrepreneurs with the outputs of the project with the skills and competences to boost other new women entrepreneurs’ inner strength and keep on working on the women entrepreneurship programme with a bigger awareness. What can we suggest to a woman who own the necessary skills to become an entrepreneur but lack the right motivation?

As Camila Rodrigues said during the training: “Follow your passions! In order to be really successful, women should become entrepreneurs out of passion and not out of necessity”.

For further information please visit our website or contact

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Publication Date: 16/01/2020

INSPIREUS! 2nd newletter
INSPIREUS! 2nd newletter
INSPIREUS! 2nd newletter