Amplify Africa Women’s Summit was held from the 5th-7th of October 2018 in Stellenbosch with the theme “pushing your boundaries, facing your fears!”
“We understand that women have to juggle many things at the same time,” said Danell Wilson-Perlman, Founder of Amplify Africa. Wilson-Perlman is originally from the Overberg region in the Western Cape, South Africa, but for the last 21 years has resided in Reno, Nevada.
“The one statement that stood out for the summit was the need for women entrepreneurs, academia and business leaders to come together. We need to take control of the depth of our lives” said Amy Kleinhans-Curd, one of the guest speakers at the event. The Summit was indeed a venture that became a reality.
“Ahead of the 3rd planned summit, happening this year, the 15th-28th October, Oliver Chikodzore spoke to Meghan Ochs, one of the USA team members, about the state of women empowerment in the States and in Africa, and the inherent opportunities for growth and improvement through the summit.”
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Sharon DeMattia, Danell Wilson-Perlman, Ilze Alberts, Amy Kleinhans-Curd, Meg Shea, Meghan Ochs
Tell us what you, your company, organization or what projects are you busy with?
My name is Meghan Ochs and I live in Reno, Nevada but am originally from Nazareth, PA. I am self-employed. I own three businesses, one in real estate, another as a freelance writer, ‘Meghan’s Musings,’ and ‘Skiing is Believing,’ which is for camps, pro- grams and development related to my work in the ski industry. Here is a link to a recent bio off the Amplify Africa site.
What is the social impact of their events? Do you think they are achieving what they’ve set out to do?
So far the social impact has been quite stunning. The true impact, personally, professionally, and economically, will probably not be known for years. The Amplify Africa USA team, all four of us, have all made many different connections in this country, each related to our own work, and are all already networking globally. We are setting up our first follow up conference with the women who have attended the 2018 conference and we will do so regularly. We also have a scheduled call with the young women at The Amy Foundation whom we met with during our day in Cape Town. So far, we definitely have, or certainly are on track to achieve, what we set out to. We have sent links, resources and information back to aspiring entrepreneurs that we met at the event or even after the event along our travels that are relevant to their businesses. We have helped some local social groups in Cape Town connect with each other, and other businesses, to help support each other, not realizing that their needs were so similar or that there might be a potential partnership among them. For example, our team member Sharon, shared her art project in some local schools and is working with a few schools and programs in South Africa for our next trip as well as helping coordinate an art and dance show in Cape Town. I am working on various ways to see if I can use my coaching and athletic skills to help with youth sport programs next time I am back. In summation, despite being back stateside, we are all doing a lot of global outreach back to South Africa. We will each continue, indefinitely, to network, connect, hopefully help, and in the process, learn more ourselves, through the people we met, the businesses, we visited and the connections we made.
“If you are asking if I believe in the Amplify Africa program, yes, absolutely!”
Do you believe in amplifying women in Africa?
If you are asking if I believe in the Amplify Africa program, yes, absolutely! Prior to my coming along on this trip, I had doubts as to my value to the program. However, after the trip, I have no doubt about the effectiveness of the program moving forward. We travelled and toured with a social conscious and agenda in mind. We learned so much and travelled as far more than just tourists. Advocacy, learning, and collaboration were our main goals. Connections just naturally happened as the people, and women we met, spoke and shared their experiences with one another. The beautiful thing about this program is that its women focused. This does not mean we are exclusionary to men; however, it allows for women to focus on doing what they do best. Women, and women centered, and run businesses, tend to focus on compassion, empathy and the human need and connection rather than the simple cut and dry bottom line stuff. To me, this is a wonderful thing because real change is made when we focus on the larger picture and not just the goal of making ends meet. I truly believe if we put people and genuine goals first, profits and financial success can follow. I personally love being able to do something positive for the larger community, while also running an effective business and being able to provide. Women, who tend to be heart centered, can often merge purpose with profit incredibly well. Amplify Africa has, and is going to continue to show this effectively.
How has working with amplifier women impacted your life and added onto your skills?
Without a doubt, this Amplify Africa trip has cemented lifelong friendships, bonds and comradery among our USA team. Our team bonded and worked together incredibly well and we helped each other not just professionally, but also personally. Outside of our USA group, the impact has also been large. We have each made new connections that will be mutually beneficial. Working on and through the continent of Africa is new for most of us. For me personally, I have had work ties in other continents and countries but not in Africa. To expand my network, and help other entrepreneurs in South Africa, based on some of my own experiences here in the states has already been a valuable and worthy experience. Hearing the stories and challenges of other women from another country and continent has been wonderful, humbling and inspiring. The true value and impact is just starting to be felt. If you were to ask this question again in a year or two, we would have an even more detailed answer for you.
“So far the social impact has been quite stunning.”
What does women empowerment mean to you?
Women empowerment to me means lifting each other up, supporting one another, and focusing on how women can relate to each other through our shared stories and connections. No matter our nationality, race, story, and or socio economic status, we truly have more in common than not. Focusing on our similarities, while appreciating and respecting our differences, makes us stronger and better together. No matter what country you are from, we still live in a very male dominated world. Women are stronger when we work together rather than tear each other down. The patriarchy, like apartheid is a system, its endemic, and when we work together to lift each other up we can do a better job of changing and hopefully dismantling it. The sexist system certainly does not serve women, but it also doesn’t allow men to live up to their full potential either. It takes time to address and change. If women can work together, help one another, we have a better chance of helping to end the various ways gender discrimination still exists. Additionally, empowering women also means doing our best to ensure we have the tools we need to succeed and do our best. There is so much untapped female potential pretty much everywhere, women who are brilliant, intuitive, creative, willing to learn, to teach, to help etc. but so many have never been given the chance or opportunity. Those of us who have been, and have the tools to help, it should be our responsibility to ‘pass the torch’ and do what we can to help give other women, and people, the tools to succeed. This is what we aim to do with Amplify Africa, empower women and give each other the tools needed to help increase the odds of success. Sometimes, the tool is as simple as support and some positive encouragement.
What was your best take away from the event?
Honestly, I am still processing the whole event and trip. We did so much in our short weekend in Stellenbosch and then throughout the country as we continued to tour Cape Town, Johannesburg and other parts of South Africa. We learned so much and had so many life- changing, once in a lifetime experiences in such a short time. Every day was an adventure. We met so many incredible women, female run organizations and women of various ages acting as change makers in their community or hitting the pavement hard, every day, to succeed in their business. We also met some men doing incredible work for their community such as Steve at the Moravian Children’s home in Elim. It was inspiring and humbling on every level.
“Hearing the stories and challenges of other women from another country and continent, has been wonderful, humbling and inspiring.”
What are your hopes for 2019?
Amplify Africa Team USA has high hopes not just for this year, but also the long term future of the program. The team has already debriefed and met a few times to discuss this year’s trip, what worked, what didn’t and what we can do even better. We are already planning our trip and program for May. We are sorting through applicants to add to the team from the states and also sorting out locations. We may do an additional conference in Johannes burg as well. We are discussing having smaller breakout sessions this year for attendees to meet individually with entrepreneurs / presenters they would like more time with. We are also discussing the best possible ways to expand the program to other countries in the southern part of the continent. There will be a lot of positive changes coming to the program to help make it more effective and to expand its reach.
Thank you Meghan for your time and allowing us a glimpse into the Amplify Africa Project!
Picture Credits: Pictures supplied by Amplify Africa
Amplify Journeys Gallery
Great work Ilze Alberts! Ilze was one of our amazing speakers at our October Summit, and she will return this year🌟