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NAWBO-Greater DC Hosts First-Ever Meeting with Chinese Delegation of Women

There’s an unspoken language among women that transcends borders, oceans and countries—one that takes precedence, connects us and reminds us that we are united. That palpable sisterhood set the tone for NAWBO’s first-ever meeting with a Chinese delegation of women.

The meeting was initiated by the Chinese delegation, who contacted NAWBO National CEO Jen Earle requesting a visit to glean best practices for women-owned businesses in their coastal province of Jiangsu. Jen turned to NAWBO-Greater DC Chapter President Diana Dibble, who jumped at the opportunity, and the meeting was scheduled during the delegation’s recent visit to the Washington, DC area.

To break through the cultural and language barriers, Diana wanted to welcome the visitors in their native language. She previously learned to say hello, “Nǐ hǎo,” and practiced the pronunciation before their arrival. She also called upon her theatre training to closely observe and emulate behaviors. “It’s paying attention to little nuances,” she says. “Like how they give you a business card with both hands. It seemed to be a sign of respect, so we did the same.”

The chapter also arranged circular seating to keep it casual, inclusive and easier to communicate. “There was a lot of smiling,” Diana laughs. “Truthfully, as women, we have an innate ability to connect, share and be open. Although neither group spoke each other’s language, it felt collaborative from the beginning.”

During the meeting, NAWBO-Greater DC shared several tips with government officials of the Chinese delegation to support women-owned businesses in their province of Jiangsu. Specifically, the delegation wanted to know how to best support women business owners, particularly minority women.

Capital – Women-owned businesses need access to capital at a local bank in China. Government communication to support women-owned businesses with subsidized loans would provide necessary cash flow to keep their businesses afloat.

Programming and training – NAWBO-Greater DC suggested offering leadership development at the local level, and tailoring the training programs to meet challenges experienced in specific industries in different areas.  

Online resources – The Chinese delegation could provide online resources similar to those at NAWBO, where women can dial into webinars at their convenience for professional development.

Collaboration – Women-owned businesses in Jiangsu could invite larger organizations and sponsors in their local area to share best practices. Even if those companies are not women owned, it could provide a huge benefit.

“We were excited to discuss what we do at NAWBO on a national level and also at the chapter level,” says Diana. The Chinese delegation was receptive, intrigued and asked pertinent questions to ensure they understood how to best support women-owned businesses in their province—even the translator was inspired to tell her friends about NAWBO.

“Our board loved participating in this experience as part of a global community,” says Diana. “When we’re among women, no matter the differences, we find commonality because we face similar challenges in life. It’s our nature to build relationships and it’s one of the reasons why this was such a successful meeting. I think NAWBO and this Chinese delegation of women could have a great long-term relationship.”

NAWBO-Greater DC hosts a Chinese delegation of women to support women-owned businesses in the province of Jiangsu. Attending from the NAWBO chapter are Chapter President Diana Dibble (4th from left), President-Elect Lisa Nicholls (3rd from right), Board Member Melissa Henry (4th from right) and Chapter Administrator Tonia Chagnon (not pictured).