Dear WISE readers, dear Members of the WBII,

Happy New Year! I sincerely hope this finds everyone well and slowly returning to activities for what will be good year.

My name is Deborah Valentine and, for those who may not yet have heard, as of January 2024 I will be taking over the role of Chair of the Women’s Business Initiative International for the period ahead. An exciting development for me and I hope one which will serve our community well. I do so with appreciation and respect for the work of Charlene Lambert, who served as our President since 2018 providing guidance and support to the work of the WBII’s volunteer Board group, together with the further visionary perspectives and encouragement provided by Dymphna Elsink as Vice-President. These will be hard shoes to fill but I know I can count on their guidance, as well as that of remaining Board members and the teams of volunteers who bring us all the WBII.

I have been a member of the WBII since 2007 – and have happily joined events, learnt LOTS, made friends, found colleagues and enjoyed the processes (and events) which have taken place over the years. When founded, the WBII was ahead of its time. No doubt! Today, while the WBII is not entirely what it had aimed to be way back then, two things have remained constant – two things which keep it going, while ensuring it remains relevant and vibrant.

One, community. From the start, within the mission of the WBII was the aim to provide female entrepreneurs with a community to grow from. While at the start it was to be from (among others) a shared working space, it has become one of shared colleagues. Truth is, many of our members are sole-entrepreneurs and, as everyone knows, this can be lonely at times; not having someone to hang out with around the coffee machine (or with a glass of wine), people to run ideas by or ‘test’ things with. Today we continue to provide this and grow from the connections made, networks broadened, ideas shared, experiences relished.

Two, learning. Besides the monthly networking events which provide a variety of topics relevant to business in general, members of the WBII can further learn from their mastermind groups; skill share forums and opportunities created by the connections we encourage among our members. Learning is not just a ‘thing’, it is a continuous process.

These two core principles resonate with me and I look forward to being able to ensure they continue to live a long life for us all – professionally as well as personally. I’m taking steps now to inform myself of all the details and people who make the WBII a reality for us all, and look forward to sharing my own insights and thoughts as the year progresses.

Deborah Valentine, WBII Chair


Cover Photo credit Vinita Salomé Photography