Author: Elene Kvanchilashvili
Bank of Georgia announced March as women’s month and in the frame of this strategy Hanna Loikkanen, Vice-Chairman of the Supervisory Board, hosted an event dedicated to women’s presence in the business sector. Where there are women and business – there’s Forbes Woman Georgia.
Rebel girls were always there. Just as there is still a ‘woman’s job’ and a ‘man’s job’ – a stereotype that becomes generated as an obstacle in our heads, and that can sometimes feel impossible to overcome without somebody else’s unconditional support.
Rebellious girls are curious and stubborn. These qualities make them stand out. First of all, they must find a profession that is not typically a “woman’s job” and then make it one – not by words, but by hard work and continuous dedication. And without curiosity and stubbornness, this would probably be much harder to do.
Rebellious girls have it harder. They need more evidence to prove people wrong, they have to tolerate and listen to more unfair assessments or attitudes than anyone else.
But rebellious girls are remembered more.
Because rebellious girls achieve more.
The question is though, who can encourage us, give us strength and pave the way for us to be in touch with our rebellious selves?
Mostly – rebels themselves.
“I chose international macroeconomics as my major in the university precisely because it was considered then as a ‘boy’s subject’. So, I decided to find out what was so interesting in this field of studies.” said Hanna Loikkanen, who is already a successful woman, and serves as a Vice-Chairman of Bank of Georgia’s Supervisory Board.
Her visit to Georgia is purposeful and specifically aimed at implementing a certain belief in women that – everything is possible: if you have goals, your path to success will start to appear and eventually, your supporters will make themselves felt.
For years, Bank of Georgia has helped women across the country to start or expand businesses and to implement modern trends by creating opportunities for them. With the financial support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Bank of Georgia created a special program for women – “Women in Business”. Within the framework of this program, up to 1000 businesses were sponsored by financial resources up to 25 million GEL.
Bank of Georgia establishes the idea of empowering women by asserting a personal example: as mentioned above, the vice-chairman of the Bank’s Supervisory Board is a woman.
Everything started with Hanna Loikkanen’s family: “My father only had us, girls. I do not remember that he prohibited anything just because I was a girl. I think such support from the family, especially from fathers is very important for girls. Girls need to know they can follow their dreams, whatever they are, and that if or when they fail, someone will definitely lift them up and encourage to try again and go further. Each and every one of us can show such support.”
Women’s empowerment is not just an exciting and beautiful phrase that can be easily ‘promoted’. McKinsey Global Institute estimated that if the employment rate for women in the global market would be equal to men, the global economy would annually increase by 26% by 2025.
Women’s employment rate is also a challenge for Georgia: if we look at the numbers, we will see that more men in our country are employed than women. Besides, at the level of managing positions, especially at the small and medium business or micro-business segment, men clearly overpower women. However, these facts – like everything else in the economy, can simultaneously be considered as a problem and an opportunity.
Hanna Loikkanen supports perceiving this as a challenge and an opportunity – she is certain that women have big potential in Georgia, to become more economically active and have a bigger role in business.
“Georgian women have natural power. When we create the right conditions for this power, it will sparkle, “says the Vice-Chairman of the Bank of Georgia’s Supervisory Board, and herewith easily explains, what women in Georgia and around the globe lack to get more involved in the economy: “Women do not necessarily have enough information about how to start a business. They are not drawn into these types of discussions. It may be difficult for them to know where to get that information, how to evaluate the possibilities that are on the market, but above all, they lack support – they lack someone who will say: Oh, you have fantastic ideas and you are capable of turning them into a great business! Go for it!
Hanna Loikkanen believes that success is contagious, so all of the examples – when a woman was able to fulfill her dreams and to reach her goal; when she became a genuine entrepreneur; when she was able to support her family financially and felt very strong – are breathtakingly inspirational to other women. We have to talk and write about these examples and discuss them publicly.
Bank of Georgia is well aware that women’s involvement and active participation cannot be maintained only by sharing separate examples. Strengthening the behavior of women requires consistent work as it changes.
The bank has thought about this quite extensively.
The Vice-Chairman of the Supervisory Board tells us that soon, Bank of Georgia will provide a platform for women where they will be able to get advice on the issues that are interesting to them through different channels and easily exchange their experiences: “At some point, each of us was helped by someone else. When you are successful, you want to share your experience with others. Encourage others.”
With the help of branches in all regions and modern technologies, Bank of Georgia’s mission is much easier to achieve: it is no longer necessary to be somewhere physically to receive and share information – motivational or workshop style videos, e-learning or other technological solutions will be available to all members of the platform.
“The growth and success of our clients are in our interest. The more successful businesses we are able to support, the better we carry out our mission – to create a pre-requisite for success for everyone in Georgia ” said Hana Loikkanen.
She has also accomplished her original goal which brought her to Georgia: She shared her 20-year experience with women, representing large, small and medium businesses, and informed them about women’s role in business and economy and what challenges and obstacles women in the industry may face.
Hanna’s philosophy is: to succeed, you must be curious and not be afraid to make mistakes, but to learn from them. You should also learn from other people’s mistakes… For this, you have to ask for advice, expand your professional networks, generate close communications with associations and think globally.
We agree that Georgia needs more rebellious girls – girls who do not easily believe that their role is only that one of a housewife, mother, and a family caregiver. Girls, who believe that they do not have to choose between a career and a family, that they can have everything – good motherhood and a professional career. Girls whose success is not only local but global.
As I’m writing this article for you, I’m thinking, could I have been cooking in the kitchen instead? Of course, but it must be my choice, I just want to do so. You just have to respect my choice – regardless of whether you like it or not.
And it is us – women who should demand this.
As for the support part of it all – there’s the whole Bank of Georgia.
With a unified effort, soon – whole Georgia.