On a chilly Saturday night, in a cosy wine bar in Hamrun, a group of women are meeting. They are hoping to exchange information on the best way to start up a business in Malta or learn how to build the company they already have.
A huge variety of sectors are represented, from one-woman operators who make candles by hand at home, to international marketing specialists.
The mood is friendly and supportive.
Our host for the evening is self-described 'serial entrepreneur' Dana Carmont. As well as owning the wine bar we are standing in, she runs her own bikini line, sells Balinese home décor and now runs ‘WOMM’ or ‘Word of Mouth Malta’. Tonight’s event is called ‘Mingle’ with the idea being that women can come together in a shared space and swap stories.
Dana opens the night by explaining that the meeting should be treated like a form of speed dating for business people. Every fifteen minutes she will ring a bell and women are encouraged to switch who they are speaking to at that moment to someone else. “Limit your time to work the room and always let your connections know what you are after to help grow your business.”
Business people 'speed dating' at Wasp Wine Bar, Hamrun
Eavesdropping on conversations, I hear digital marketing being discussed quite a lot. Three women compare whether it’s better to sell their products on Etsy, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
Among them is 29-year-old Elisa Farrugia who quit her full-time job to focus on her online shop The Limo Hub which sells pet supplies. “I think an event like this is the perfect way to represent your company in person. I’m also hoping to increase my brand's awareness and to connect with potential clients.”
Others chat about whether the Maltese market is big enough to grow their businesses, while some are deciding if they should rent a physical space or just sell their goods online.
31-year-old Belgian native Eveline Smet is the Founder of GrowthAgency.com, a digital marketing company based in Malta and Belgium.
“I’m not necessarily looking for new clients or new business opportunities tonight,” she tells me. “…because we’re not really focusing on the Maltese market for now. But I like to be surrounded by inspiring female business owners and people who have the same mindset. I also gave a few tips on how to attract more clients to starting business owners. I believe it’s about finding confidence to move forward and do what you want.”
Someone else who agrees with this statement is life coach and Associate Partner of WOMM Katie Cameron.
The 31-year-old Scot has been living in Malta for five years and believes it’s a place where women need extra support in business.
“The experience of working in Malta as a woman depends on who you work for. I feel international companies based here have a better outlook when it comes to flexible hours. It’s very challenging for women in business to be in a senior position and also have and flexibility to be mothers.”
“I think women are held back by the multi-roles in society. When our mothers had us, it was just expected that they would stay home and mind us, but now I think women feel under pressure to ‘have it all’. I think if women can learn to ignore everyone else’s expectations of them, they’ll succeed more in life and in business.”
WOMM is holding its second event to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8th.
Information can be found on https://www.facebook.com/wordofmouthmalta/