EmpowerHer Initiative Focuses on the Economic Empowerment of Women in Business

Systematic and consistent support for working women and their economic empowerment in the workplace, as well as the promotion of female entrepreneurship, are among the highlights of today’s international conference “EmpowerHer: Elevate to Excellence”, organized by AmCham Bulgaria in partnership with European Female Founders (EFF). The event also celebrated the International Women’s Day – March 8th.

The conference was opened by Ivan Mihaylov, CEO, AmCham Bulgaria, who focused on the EmpowerHer initiative, which is implemented through three separate projects by the members of the Chamber.

“We are happy to be able to celebrate International Women’s Day with this event, which shows the true strength and inspiration that women possess. The idea for it was to have a meeting to share best practices for our members, but after Maria Gabriel recognized it two months ago, today we are holding an international conference with nearly 200 participants, at least 10 significant topics, and a dozen prominent women leaders from different sectors and organizations” – said Ivan Mihaylov.

“To develop the initiative further in 2024, our Human Capital and Education Committee members have decided to implement three separate projects under the EmpowerHer Initiative. All three respond to their identified needs and are also tailored to societal issues to be addressed. For example, sharing best practices was part of the “Lead and Inspire” panel featuring our leading members, and the EmpowerBank project will be continued in the so-called Pink October this year. In April and May, professionals from our companies will visit several high schools to share guidance on early career guidance – for both girls and boys – this will be a task of Rise to Shine. In parallel, through the Unlock Your Power project, we will reach out to our members to identify counselors (coaches) to work with young women to boost their confidence and steady career paths. “He told us more about the content and activities that the Chamber professionals will implement to benefit members and the community.

“Today we celebrate the achievements of women who empower, unite, and show how an entrepreneurial spirit combined with inspiration and drive can contribute to economic growth. It is a day when we recognize the driving force of women who provide answers to challenges. They are inspirational leaders and we need every voice to give visibility to their talent and experience.”, stated Mariya Gabriel, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Bulgaria


EmpowerBank – Lead and Inspire Highlights

The first panel of the conference was entitled “EmpowerBank – Lead and Inspire Highlights” with the speakers as it follows: Mylena Kostova-Organdzhieva, Managing Director, MSD Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Kosovo & Albania, Boyka Docheva, HR Director, IBM Bulgaria, Darina Stoyanova, CEO, Prestige-96 AD, Rumyana Peteva, HR Director, Kamenitza, Plamena Cherneva, board member of European Entrepreneur Founders Forurm and founder of Nordic Women in Tech. This part was moderated by Maria Atanasova, People Business Partner, Progress

“70% of our leadership team is made up of women and this is something that I’m truly proud of. Moreover, 5 years later, due to this factor, we’ve gone from being the number 5 company to number 2 in the sector, thanks to female leadership. This is an example that if we don’t believe that we can make the change for ourselves, no one can help us, neither society nor our company.”, Mylena Kostova-Organdzhieva,, Managing Director, MSD Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Kosovo & Albania

“IBM is a company with a very strong culture of developing its leaders from within. We have experience in two very key aspects for women in business – getting started and navigating the career path, and the next stage has to do with concerns about taking leadership positions. As a woman grows, there is often the worry – is it possible for me to combine all my life roles, will I be able to be sustainable and value-giving enough in my organization? This is where environment is key.”, Boyka Docheva,
HR Director, IBM Bulgaria

“I have the honor of leading a team that is 65% women and 65% of the management positions are kept by women as well. That is why I know that women’s participation in business produces phenomenal results. The organizations that have more empowered women are the ones that drive progress economic growth and social progress. The empowered woman is the woman who understands that she cannot be perfect, but is encouraged and inspired and has her feet firmly on the ground.”, Darina Stoyanova, CEO, Prestige-96 AD

“Quite naturally, we, women, carry with us a lot of balance and are guides to many new ideas. In this way, we can unleash the potential of the people in our organizations. We also bring a rich emotional intelligence and soft skills conducive to team atmosphere and relationships in organizations. Our ability to find innovative solutions of several types in difficult situations brings great richness.”, Rumyana Peteva, HR Director, Kamenitza

“The most important thing about the empowerment of women is access to opportunities and resources so that we are not restricted and limited. For me, these limitations most often come from stereotypes. We decided 2 years ago to launch European Female Founders (EFF) to fight these stereotypes to prove that we can overcome obstacles and that we need more people to support us.”, Plamena Cherneva, Board Member, EFF, Founder of Nordic Women in Tech

“Quite naturally, we, women, carry with us a lot of balance and are guides to many new ideas. In this way, we can unleash the potential of the people in our organizations. We also bring a rich emotional intelligence and soft skills conducive to team atmosphere and relationships in organizations. Our ability to find innovative solutions of several types in difficult situations brings great richness.”, Rumyana Peteva, HR Director, Kamenitza



FIRESIDE CHAT: Women Beyond Success Highlights

In the middle of the event, we had a dynamic conversation with the participation of Milena Stoycheva, Minister of Innovation and Growth, and Tzvetanka Mintcheva, CEO and Chairman of the Board of UniCredit Bulbank, which was moderated by Poli Zlatareva, BNT.

“Success has many dimensions. In my path, I have chosen transformational leadership because for me it leads to success. It is leadership that is realized through empathy, understanding, and striving to inspire those around me and sometimes working for causes that may not at first be recognized as everyday causes. Good leads to success.”, said Milena Stoycheva, Minister of Innovation and Growth

“I believe that on the road to success, there are qualities that are common regardless of gender. For me, it happens when good preparation meets opportunity and people are willing to step out of their comfort zone – no matter male or female. That’s why it’s important to have representatives of both genders on boards to make more complex and balanced decisions. Success is when we can combine the qualities of both sides to be part of the overall decision of the companies.” Tzvetanka Mintcheva, CEO and Chairman of the Board of UniCredit Bulbank,


More about the conference

The final panel of the event is a presentation of the European initiative INVEST’HER: Fostering Women’s Entrepreneurship featuring Anne-Charlotte Joubert, Coordinator, European Female Founders, Monika Stanisheva, Board Chair, Dir.bg, Salome Le Goff, Programme Director, Willa, Francisca Eiriz, Head of Project Management, UPTEC.

This initiative aims to address the imbalances in access to finance for women entrepreneurs in EU countries and to build a network of investors and start-ups who, by sharing experiences and knowledge, will support capacity building, networking, and opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship.


About the EmpowerHer Initiative

The EmpowerHer initiative was established in 2022 in partnership between the American Chambers of Commerce in Europe (AmChambers in Europe) network, the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (AmChamEU), and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Several American Chambers in Europe, including the American Chamber in Bulgaria, joined in 2022 and the declaration of support was signed by nearly 100 companies from Europe.

Its main objective is to increase women’s economic empowerment in the workplace and female entrepreneurship. Its main thrusts are working towards improving the business environment for women and identifying opportunities and mechanisms to raise awareness of the depth and importance of the issue among various stakeholders. As an initiative of organizations on both sides of the Atlantic, it seeks to achieve engagement among US and European companies by embracing and applying the principles of equality and creating opportunities to empower women in their organizations.


Data in Support of Women’s Economic Empowerment

The empowerment of women and their career success contribute to the success of companies:

  • 35% are more likely to outperform their competitors (according to McKinsey)
  • 70% more likely to enter new markets (HBR)
  • 87% are better at decision-making (People Management)
  • 19% have higher revenue (BCG)

Significant need for women’s economic empowerment

  • 6.6% of all Fortune 500 companies have women in director (CEO) positions (Fortune)
  • 40% of people believe there are double standards that target women (Clear Company)
  • 23% of senior management positions are created for women (Women in the Workplace).

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