Article written by Xenophon Zabulis, April 2023
The Development Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Crete (DAWEC) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2002 in Heraklion, Crete, Greece. Its main goal is to support and promote women’s entrepreneurship in Crete by providing business training, mentoring, networking opportunities, and access to funding. DAWEC also advocates for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the business world.
The main activities of DAWEC can be summarized as follows:
- Business training: DAWEC provides training programs and workshops on various topics related to entrepreneurship, such as business planning, marketing, financial management, and digital skills. These training programs are designed to help women entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.
- Mentoring: DAWEC offers mentoring and coaching services to women entrepreneurs who need guidance and support in their business journey. Mentors are experienced business professionals who provide advice, feedback, and encouragement to their mentees
- Networking: DAWEC organizes networking events and activities to help women entrepreneurs connect with each other, exchange ideas, and build partnerships. These events include conferences, seminars, workshops, and business fairs.
- Funding: DAWEC helps women entrepreneurs access funding opportunities, such as grants, loans, and venture capital. The organization provides information and support to women entrepreneurs who are looking for funding to start or grow their businesses.
- Advocacy: DAWEC advocates for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the business world. The organization works to raise awareness about the challenges that women entrepreneurs face and to promote policies and practices that support women’s entrepreneurship.
DAWEC has been working to promote and preserve the traditional weaving techniques of Crete, and to use these techniques to create new products that can be sold in domestic and international markets.
One of DAWEC’s initiatives in this area is the “Weaving Crete” project, which aims to revive the art of weaving in Crete and to create new opportunities for women weavers. The project involves training women in traditional weaving techniques and helping them develop new designs and products that incorporate these techniques.
Under the “Weaving Crete” project, DAWEC has collaborated with designers and artisans to create a range of products that combine traditional weaving with contemporary design. These products include clothing, accessories, home decor items, and even furniture. Some examples of the products created through this project include:
- Handwoven scarves, shawls, and wraps that feature traditional Cretan motifs and colours.
- Bags, purses, and clutches made from handwoven fabrics that incorporate modern design elements, such as leather accents and metal hardware.
- Cushions, throws, and rugs made from handwoven textiles that blend traditional and modern aesthetics.
- Chairs, stools, and other furniture pieces that feature handwoven seat covers or backs.
Through these efforts, DAWEC is helping to preserve the cultural heritage of Crete while also creating new economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
DAWEC has several plans for the future to continue supporting and promoting women’s entrepreneurship in Crete.
Here are some of their future plans:
- Expand their training programs: DAWEC plans to expand its training programs and workshops to reach more women entrepreneurs in Crete. They aim to provide more specialized training in areas such as e-commerce, sustainability, and social entrepreneurship.
- Develop new partnerships: DAWEC plans to develop new partnerships with other organizations, both in Greece and abroad, to increase the visibility and impact of their work. They also plan to collaborate with more designers, artists, and artisans to create new products that combine traditional techniques with modern design.
- Create a co-working space: DAWEC is planning to create a co-working space for women entrepreneurs in Crete. The space will provide a supportive and collaborative environment where women can work, network, and learn from each other.
- Strengthen advocacy efforts: DAWEC plans to strengthen its advocacy efforts by working with policymakers and stakeholders to create a more favourable environment for women’s entrepreneurship in Crete. They aim to raise awareness about the importance of gender equality and the need for policies that support women entrepreneurs.
- Enhance their online presence: DAWEC plans to enhance its online presence by developing a more user-friendly website, expanding their social media reach, and creating more digital content to promote their work and activities.
DAWEC is committed to continue its mission of supporting and empowering women entrepreneurs in Crete, and promoting economic growth and social development in the region.
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of women’s entrepreneurship as a driver of economic growth and social development. As a result, women-led businesses, including DAWEC, are gaining more visibility and support than in the past. Here are some ways in which DAWEC and other women-led businesses are getting stronger and rising compared to the past:
- Increased access to funding: Women-led businesses are now more likely to receive funding from various sources, including grants, loans, and venture capital. This is partly due to the growing awareness of the business potential of women entrepreneurs, as well as to the increasing availability of funding programs and initiatives that target women-owned businesses.
- More supportive policies: Many countries are now implementing policies and programs that support women’s entrepreneurship, such as tax incentives, training programs, and business incubators. These policies and programs provide a more favourable environment for women-led businesses to start and grow.
- Growing networks and communities: Women entrepreneurs now have access to more networks and communities where they can connect, learn, and collaborate with other like-minded individuals. These networks and communities provide a supportive environment where women can share their experiences and seek advice from others who have faced similar challenges.
- Improved visibility and recognition: Women-led businesses are now gaining more visibility and recognition in the media, in industry events, and in business awards. This increased visibility helps to raise awareness about the contributions of women entrepreneurs to the economy and society, and encourages more women to start their own businesses.
These factors have contributed to the growing strength and rise of women-led businesses, including DAWEC, in recent years. Women entrepreneurs are now more empowered and supported than ever before, and their contributions to the economy and society are increasingly being recognized and celebrated.