Cover Story

Changing lives...

November 6 - 12, 2019

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Changing lives...

Ingrid Vanderveldt’s (iV) visit to the kingdom was a fruitful one, as her talks across the island resulted in her signing Memorandum of Understandings (MoU’s) with two organisations in the kingdom.

She signed MoU’s with the Bahrain Entrepreneurs Organisation as well as the Global Shapers and found every talk and session she held during her trip as different and fulfilling.

“I was thrilled,” said the chairman and chief executive of Empowering a Billion Women by 2020 (EBW2020). “We will be working together on initiatives to collaborate through my global company EBW as well as integrating our global business community in with Bahrain’s community for further mutual collaboration and growth.

“As for the meets, each one was different but the common denominator was to come and learn and share stories and experiences that would inspire, educate and provide tangible know-how to move an idea from whatever stage it is in- to a thriving opportunity to create impact and economic possibility and potential.”

Ingrid, who was the First Entrepreneur in Residence for Dell, speaker at the White House and the 2013 United Nation’s Global Entrepreneurship Council, was invited by the US Embassy and The Capital Governorate to participate in Manama Entrepreneurship Week (MEW). This year, MEW was held under the patronage of Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, the Capital Governor. She also met US Ambassador to Bahrain Justin Siberell as part of Discover America Week with American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) and the US Embassy.

During her introductory DVC session, Ingrid launched a competition to select the most innovative application in Bahrain and said that the winner would receive their reward during the Manama Week and will have the chance to showcase their project to the public. The session was attended by entrepreneurs and programme partners.

According to Ingrid the competition was “fantastic!” She said: “The competition was to find “The Most Innovative App in Bahrain”.  The winner was Mary- Justine Todd from Women’s Crisis Care International (WCCI).  All the applicants were fantastic and it was a hard choice. However, I chose Mary-Justine because she was creating an app that solves a massive and major social issue that, in being solved – and helping women thrive – builds better communities, societies and economies. 

“This was a problem that hasn’t been tackled globally in the way she is doing it and I think WCCI has the potential to have a solution that will truly change the world for good while also having strong economic results.”

Ingrid knows all about giving back. Her EBW2020 is a global organisation that provides women with the tools, technology and resources that they need to succeed.

She said: “This was and is a mission call for my life. I knew at the age of four I would serve women and girls, I just didn’t know what that was going to look like.  In 2011, on a dirt road in Dallas Texas, coming out of prayer the idea was given to me and I have faithfully and dutifully followed it ever since.”

As for her advice for women living in the kingdom and for ladies around the world, Ingrid explains that the biggest challenge they will ever face is themselves. 

“The world is looking to find those innovative, creative women seeking to make an impact and make a difference,” she said. “So first, find a good mentor and secondly surround yourself with a group of like-minded thinkers. Thirdly, it’s all about perseverance. You will get 100 no’s before a yes. It’s not always easy to follow the path you are called to do- but it’s the most amazing and rewarding one – to manifest into being what your spirit is called to create. So go for it and we are here to collaborate and support you!”

Ingrid is thankful to the entire kingdom’s warm hospitality, wishing she could have visited sooner.

She added: “It was such a treat. As a private citizen and CEO, I have met many people over the years who have told me that I must come or go to Bahrain, I will love it and there is a lot of emerging opportunity there. When the Embassy called and asked if I would please come and be part of this programme that they were working on with the other local groups, I made this a priority. I wanted to not only come and learn, listen and share, but also to highlight that we (global leaders) are willing, able and ready to collaborate with the community and leaders of Bahrain.  It’s an exciting time!

“So thank you and I can’t wait to see you all again! For those who did not get to see the speeches, as of May 2017, EBW has opened up (a formerly paid service), the EBW Business School for free.

“It is online and provides access to the mentorship, education, know-how and community to support you in your success.  So no longer will any entrepreneur, especially women, be able to say anywhere in the world that she “doesn’t have access”.”

They have opened this access for free as the faster people succeed, the faster they will create the global sustainable future everyone wants to see. 

“As you learn and grow, companies like my company (where I am partner and a VP) will help integrate your innovation into some of the top global corporations that are seeing your solutions.”

Until her next visit to the kingdom, Ingrid is looking forward to going home to spend time with her husband Glenn Hodgson, a former professional skydiver who is now the executive director of Ingrid Vanderveldt LLC.

She said: “What’s next for me? Eating, sleeping, seeing my husband and relishing in the amazingness of this incredible trip. I love Bahrain and all of you and thank you for being such incredible role models for all that is possible to the rest of us around the globe. I can’t wait till next time and please know our doors are always open and we can’t wait to see you in EBW global Chapters. Then what? Onto Vision 2030!”

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