Celebrating 18 Years of Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership in Romania

01.27.2023 | Case Studies | Carmen Stanila, Camelia Bulat

“In Europe people celebrate entering adulthood when they turn 18, but not many organizations reach this age. For an organization to last for such a long time, this means it provides value, it relies on committed members, and proves able to change with the times,” says Maria Grapini, a founding member of the Coalition of Women’s Business Associations and current member of the European Parliament.

From the beginning, CAFA has been a coalition of women entrepreneurs and managers who believe they have something to say, and are working to ensure that they can fully express their views and positions. Building strong advocacy skills helped CAFA members voice their policy priorities and recommendations in a professional manner, a prerequisite for effective participation in public-private dialogue. While several other coalitions and networks worked on business or women’s issues (such as fighting gender-based violence), CAFA sought to directly address women entrepreneurs’ priorities and concerns.

CAFA was the first informal coalition of women’s business associations supported by CIPE. What in 2004 was a singular grassroots national coalition created by local women’s business associations became an inspiration and model for other women’s business advocacy coalitions, such as the ones in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, or the Balkans, all CIPE-supported.

The future of CAFA is in the hands of its members. Relying fully on themselves, the ten women business associations that are united in CAFA today are determined to keep the coalition alive, to do business together, and to rely on each other. They are convinced that by supporting women in business, they are also contributing to women’s economic empowerment and fostering democratic values of inclusion and participation. Business, networking, and friendship go hand-in-hand in CAFA.