Since early hunter-gatherer days, females typically fulfilled the role of managing the home. Although this tradition of women being bound to homemaking has seemed to evolved and more women have stepped into workforce taking on the role of the matriarch, the previous cultural norms still permeate deep inside, especially in many regions such as in Asia.
For this month’s NS Insider Interview, a French born beauty who found her mission to lead with strategy, operational experience, and dynamic management skills. She co-founded a platform to be the bridge of inspiration, cultivate business blueprints, and encourage impassioned women to start their own unique journeys.
Ines Gafsi, The Co-founder of Female Entrepreneur Worldwide, is here to talk about her epic journey that prepared her to be the sherpa of this entrepreneurial generation.
Photography | Female Entrepreneur Worldwide
C O N V E R S A T I O N
NL | Nicole Lui @ NOIRSTONE
IG | Ines Gafsi
NL | When you first started FEW, what really struck you as eye opening when it comes to business world in Asia, especially being a startup in Hong Kong?
IG | Hong Kong is a great place to start a business, especially because the community is very supportive. Everyone is open to collaborate. Things move forward quickly here - people mindset is business oriented and open - which makes the journey exciting. Entrepreneurship is all about testing and pivoting ideas so having that flexibility pretty awesome.
NL | There’s a misconception that a good portion of the female entrepreneur groups project their anger towards men, though, as we know the true intent of these communities is to empower women. How do you keep the balance in the ratio of women to men?
IG | We always welcome men to our different programs and we do have 15-20% of male members. Men are important in empowering women for success. In our community a lot of men are mentors who are happy to share their business knowledge with other members. We think it is important to involve men in this conversation.
NL | I agree, it's also about ying and yang.... How about things happen randomly, what was the back up plan if FEW didn’t work out the way you girls had planned?
IG | Well, to be honest we’ve never imagined that FEW would be what it is today. Things happen quite organically and we are driven by the encouraging messages we receive from our members and their successes. We are passionate about this mission and if it did not work out the FEW way I would still probably support female entrepreneurs on the consulting side or with a foundation. We actually have so many ideas on how we can help but we simply decided to focus first on providing an educational platform for them to learn how to run their business better and champion them to inspire more women to believe in their dreams.
NL | Focus on one thing definitely is the key otherwise we'll just get to nowhere. So we all learn from failure, what was the failure that kicked you in the ass?
IG | There is a lot of challenges when you start a business. Especially in a country that is not your own. The business etiquette is different and you have to adapt yourself to not lose potential business. I realised quickly that French tend to be a bit too direct in our way of speaking or expressing ideas - which is perciped aggressive or not respectful- comparing to local standards. The guangxi and face concepts were also new to me. After working for a few years now with big clients in Hong Kong and China I’ve learnt the ways to deal with this.
NL | Oh! I can absolutely resonate with it, especially when we switched from one city to another. So how did you come back up from that moment?
IG | Building relationships is key in business and it’s a learning curve. I have learnt over the years to pay particular attention to people not matter their position and role in their organisation as they can become key partners in the future. You have to be patient with yourself and stay positive no matter the struggles you face but always reflect on your attitude and aim for higher standards.
NL | You’ve seen lots of ladies, who’re still fearful of authenticity and being true to themselves. What’s your best advice?
IG | I personally think authenticity is key for entrepreneurial success. Every entrepreneur, especially at the start, embodies their brand. Their personal brand is their company brand. Being authentic is what make them different, unique and would ultimately make people feel more connect to their brand. You may not feel confident enough but being true to yourself and others is what would make you successful - remember that.
NL | Since your daily life is to be everyone else’s guide, how do you find time to balance your work and personal life?
IG | What I like the most about being an entrepreneur is that I get to run my own schedule. I try to have a healthy daily routine: some physical exercise every day, usually in the morning or at lunchtime and reserve my dinners for friends and family. It’s important to me to stop working at times simply to refresh my mind and allowing creativity in my life through travels, hikes or even art galleries or museums visits from time to time. It is necessary to put things in perspective and giving you the opportunity to think in a different way about business.
NL | How do you see beauty and what’s your must have #selflove routine?
IG | I usually find beauty in everyone, inside and outside. And I tend to tell that to them - it’s pleasurable to see a smile on someone who receives a compliment as much as it is to give it. I think beauty starts with taking care of your healthy, mind and body. I enjoy simple things like having a little pampering session - doing beauty masks for example - before going to bed.
NL | What is your vision for our society a decade from now?
IG | I think there is a big awakening in terms of mindfulness but also consciousness about the world we live in. People care more about their health and our planet. This will bring a lot of positive changes in the way we live, consume and apprehend the future. There is much more spirituality, new forms of spirituality that will allow people to live more purposeful lives. Entrepreneurs are the changemakers of a better world. Their battles usually implies changing things that were not working in our society. Their number is growing and as influencers they are leading the positive change that is coming.
NL | I can't agree more. Our world needs a collective of changemakers to reform it into a beauty.
NL | If you were to meet your younger self, what advice would you give her?
IG | Confidence was always what hold me back. I would tell myself that anything I dream of is possible and that my mind is the only thing that limits those dreams to happen.
NL | What’s that one question you’d like to ask our NS Insiders?
IG | What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
NL | Powerful question! I love introspective questions which make us rethink and reset.
We can’t thank you and the team enough. You girls are the gems.
Water or green tea
Angèle – La loi de Murphy
The power of Now by Eckhart Tolle| Mentor(s) + Inspiration(s) |
Sophia Amoruso, Emma Watson, Roxanne Gay, Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama
Meditation by the sea, horse riding, petting my cat
| That 1 Thing You Keep Telling Yourself |
Everything is good be alright
| Daily Routine |
Wake up at 6:30am, don’t look at your phone for one hour, run or yoga in nature, big breakfast with eggs, bred and pain au chocolat, work on the morning, afternoon meetings, drink with friends, home cooked dinner, read a book, go to bed at 11pm.