REMARKS BY THE HON TUN MUSA HITAM
Location Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- YBHG. Dato’ Dr. Norraesah Mohamad, Chairman, WIEF Businesswomen Network
- Distinguished guests,
- Members of the media,
- Ladies and Gentlemen
What started out as an experiment in 2006 with the inauguration of the Women’s Business Network (WBN) has gained momentum and snowballed into something much bigger today. This shows the power of women and how empowered they can be. What can I say about women – you can’t live with them, you can’t live without them. And we better be prepared to live with them!
The WBN celebrates its 6th anniversary this year and has successfully managed to further its objective of promoting and developing economic self sufficiency amongst women through business and entrepreneurship. The WBN part of the WIEF’s effort to run capacity building initiatives that strengthen people partnership and knowledge exchange between Muslim and non-Muslim communities across the globe in line with our motto of ‘building bridges through business’.
Within the WIEF we have strongly encouraged the participation of women. We reserve a special session called the WIEF Businesswomen forum as an important part of the annual WIEF which underscores the growing importance of women in the business world.
In this regard i need to mention a special thanks to the chairman of the Women’s Business Network, Datuk Dr Norraesah Mohamad who has been helming the WBN from day one and who is also a member of the board of trustees of the WIEF and is a member of the International Advisory Panel (IAP).
We at the WIEF are also very fortunate to have a women entrepreneur, Evelyn Mungai from Kenya come on board the IAP earlier this year in April 2011. She is the founder and past immediate president of the all Africa Businesswomen Association (AABA), an organization which promotes the economic empowerment of women in Africa, and was the first woman member and vice chairperson of the prestigious continent-wide organization of leading African businesspeople, the African Business Roundtable (ABR), a private sector initiative, body of the African Development Bank (ADB). We are proud to have a woman of her caliber in the panel and I am sure she will help launch other successful entrepreneurs like her.
The theme for the WIEF businesswomen forum during the 7th WIEF in Kazakhstan entitled “women and business: endurance and perseverance” was a very appropriate one. Women have endured and persevered and overcome many hurdles to be where they are today. They are businesswomen running small businesses. They manage financial affairs. Malaysia is an example of how managing money has little to do with gender. The head of Bank Negara, Malaysia’s Central bank is a woman, and a very capable one too.
A large part of this is because we have always emphasized education in Malaysia regardless of gender. Today more than 60% of young people graduating from our universities are women and they are making tremendous inroads into banking, finance, business, entrepreneurship and the corporate world.
The just concluded 3rd WBN entrepreneurs’ workshop is part of that education process. I cannot stress it enough. Education. Education. Education. Through this workshop we brought together women professionals and entrepreneurs to learn and to connect with their female counterparts in other parts of the world. They connected, forged partnerships, friendships and acquired new skills and knowledge.
The workshop highlights the WIEF’s aim to be part of the global women empowerment agenda to elevate the status of women worldwide. The fact that women come all the way from countries like Sudan, Myanmar, Philippines, Bangladesh and Kuwait underscores the thirst for knowledge and we are proud that they are here in Kuala Lumpur and highlights how accessible and appropriate Malaysia is as a hub or meeting point for anyone especially from the Muslim world.
The workshop threw up all sorts of interesting ideas which while for you and me may be trivial, but for someone from another country or culture may be something new or different.
We want to be the spark, the catalyst that starts the chain reaction among these entrepreneurs who are on the cusp of something bigger. Hopefully it doesn’t stop there and these same women go out and teach their new found skills to other women when they return to their respective countries.
One of the world’s foremost entrepreneurs, Steve Jobs passed away a few days ago and the whole world mourned his death. While he may not be a woman, he stands as an example of how an individual who was given away by his own parents and was adopted as a baby, who dropped out of university and fired from the company which he started managed to start something, endure and persevere. Just before he died it was announced that apple was the biggest company in the world by market capitalization.
The message here to the graduating class for the 3rd WBN entrepreneurs’ workshop in this room today is very simple. However small you are, however much you may face resistance in the world, no matter how many rejections you face always try and create something unique and useful to society and your business, your products and your services will always be in demand.
To the graduating class I wish you all every success in your endeavors. To the organizers congratulations for a job well done and to everyone who has played a part throughout the last 10 days, a very, very big thank you.
Wabillahi taufik walhidayah, assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabar.