Last week Change by Exchange attended the SheTrades Global event, part of the International Business Festival in Liverpool.


SheTrades is an initiative launched by the International Trade Centre, which seeks to connect one million women entrepreneurs to market by 2020.

This inspiring event bought together women entrepreneurs from all over the world to share knowledge and experience, and learn from a range of exceptional speakers, including H.E The First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani, Liam Freeman, Fashion Features Editor at Vogue International, Dame Stephanie Shirley and many more. 

Below is a video of one of the delegates speaking at a previous SheTrades event about the impact joining SheTrades has had on her business.

The initiative outlines seven global actions in which governments, the private sector and civil society groups can make concrete pledges to remedy obstacles hampering women-owned businesses. It is a roadmap for women’s economic empowerment.
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5. Enable. Market access
Women face greater hurdles in setting up and growing their businesses. ITC’s surveys revealed that only one in five exporting companies are women-owned, and that women face greater procedural obstacles to trade. Women’s businesses tend to be smaller and concentrated in less productive sectors. Women-owned businesses need to scale, focus on more productive sectors and move up the value chain, in order to more successfully compete in the increasingly complex trade landscape.

What is clear to see from attending the event is the passion, drive and determination of these women entrepreneurs to succeed and grow their businesses, proving that investing in women not only benefits communities but simply makes good business sense.

Women-owned exporting firms earn more, employ more people, and pay higher wages.


To date there have been more than 10 SheTrades country launches where governments have embraced the initiative and adapted it to local context to ensure that women have a greater role in their economies. 

Bibi Hanum - Uzbekistan

Bibi Hanum - Uzbekistan

Marie Valhagan - Ghana

Marie Valhagan - Ghana

Anyango Mpinga - Kenya

Anyango Mpinga - Kenya

There are online tools available through the International Trade Centre that support women in gaining the knowledge required to access new markets. Including free access to online courses, face-to-face workshops and live webinars on a range of topics  that can help them to better understand their markets and improve their skills and business.

SheTrades Global also provided women with the opportunity for face-to-face networking and business development opportunities. Providing an online platform to connect with and arrange meetings during the event as part of a 'speed-networking' structure. 

It was an inspiring event to attend and we hope to see more women entrepreneurs succeeding in their chosen sectors in the future, supported by initiatives like SheTrades.

“Nothing changes the gender equation more significantly than women’s economic freedom,”
— Gloria Steinem

The WHY of meetings

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In an article on Skift last year the question of why would any one attend a meeting, conference or event was explored. The author reflected on the rise of more interdisciplinary programming that offers more diverse ways for audiences to engage with the events message and content. Engagement of the content should also provide opportunities for not only professional growth but personal growth as well. Whether we plan to or not, we do bring all of ourselves to work, and we would all like that self to be valued. A truly successful meeting should aim to work in such a way that the value of each participant can be unlocked and all voices can be heard, in a space that people are able to connect as human beings without hierarchy. 

Bringing our whole selves to work means acknowledging that we’re all vulnerable, imperfect human beings doing the best we can. It means having the courage to take risks, speak up, have compassion, ask for help, connect with others in a genuine way, and allow ourselves to be truly seen.
— Mike Robbins

If as stated in this article the future of bringing people together is convergence; then the question could be what outcome are we hoping from this? Do we want our ideas to become similar or do we simply want to bring people together in the same place to meet, exchange ideas and knowledge, and then go their separate ways? 


At Change By Exchange we work with processes to convene people; and during our consultation with the client we work to establish the purpose of the convening; to find the WHY of the meeting. For us successful convening starts before the meeting with a collaborative agenda and co-designed process that ensures buy-in by the participants. We also work to create spaces to explore and acknowledge unconscious biases and assumptions, so that each person can gain a greater understanding and perspective of the position of the other stakeholders. This is particularly important when working with multidisciplinary teams. The strength of any team is built on understanding, shared intention and effective feedback loops. In a world where we often work both offline and online together it is the quality of relationships that matter; and well-facilitated physical engagement is a important and powerful tool.

As innovation is increasingly dependent on the fusion of a vast range of skills, beliefs and disciplines, the most creative solutions are the result of the most extreme collisions of ideas as well as the ability to break down barriers between silos.

The Festivalisation of events was another trend cited; the ability for fun and interactive activities to engage participants. And whilst there is a need for energising spaces, at Change by Exchange we also work to design reflective spaces as well; because for a mind to be truly creative it needs not only stimulation but rest. If we are bringing our whole self to a meeting, we also want to bring our best self, and the role of facilitation and well-designed process is to bring out the best in everyone present, whilst meeting the objectives of the WHY.

The experience of having the mind slightly relaxed allows it to explore different combinations of ideas, to test out different solutions.
— a rested brain is more creative

Be Human - People! (part 1)


We aren’t econs - econs are all logical and rationale all the time - we react to different incentives in different ways, and the presumption of “rationality” can often derail a good idea or process. Facilitators should understand the “human” in participants, and a good one will make sure that is taken into account in any process.

People don’t feel absolutes, they experience change.

This is one of the key features of a behavioural economics. It is a key factor to facilitation and the work we do at Change by Exchange.


During any process, it is important to understand that it is the change that people feel, not the absolute or “end position” that is important. This is what we remember and experience. A good facilitator and a good process should ensure that the change is obvious and that the priority on designing processes is that people feel change.   We try to make sure that whatever we are doing, each process or action that we do has a point to it that creates a positive change with the participants.

The story is everything


We know that when someone has finished a process, hindsight bias will kick in. People won’t necessarily remember that they “didn’t know” something, or that something was hard. What they will remember is the story. The peak moment of a journey and process. What it is hard to do in planning is to place a value on a story that we don’t know yet. If you are given a prize, in the form of a cheap trophy, the trophy isn’t worth what was paid for it, it is worth a lot more than that because of the effort that you put into getting it. You can put it on a bookshelf in your office and tell people the story of how you won the trophy. A good, engaging process has to emphasis the story, give out trophies that people value, and encourage people to want to win a bigger trophy next time.

Losses affect people more than gains


The implications for this when facilitating are very important. If you waste someone's time, money, or other resources then they will remember the loss. Even if you “make up for it” with a positive outcome, the loss will stick and be remembered. Participants love when a meeting ends on time.


When their expectations are met. Establishing expectations and getting buy-in early, lessens the chance of a loss. We try to do this. However, remember, we are human. Bad things happen sometimes, appealing to other peoples human side and saying sorry can help minimise this loss. Remember, people are not rationale all the time, we are all human.

ODI #global challenges | providing decent jobs for all


The event started with a speech from Dr (Mrs) Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the 6th President and the First Female President of the Republic of Mauritius. She asked the question, "who are the women at the bottom of the labour market?" It is clear that those most effected by the vulnerable situations often created by informal economies are women. Even across different contexts, low-pay challenges transcend nationality, GDP, culture and workplace, as women suffer from a significant pay gap and lack of access to education and training. Dr Gurib-Fakim spoke of the need for gender responsive policies, affordable care policies, the elimination of violence and the extension of labour and social protection to female dominated sectors. Using the example of the consistent and systematic policy making in Mauritius, she spoke of the transformative power of social protection that has transformed basic social security, social stability, the workplace and economy.

"Expenditure in education is not an expense, it is an investment." Dr (Mrs) Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

Author of the paper, Elizabeth Stuart is head of the Growth, Poverty and Inequality Programme at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and leads the Institute's work on the Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on the 'leave no one behind' agenda. As highlighted by the paper, she reinforced the situation that for many workers within the informal economy the position of 'formal jobs, a secure contract and decent wages' is not the starting point. Which raises the question; how can wages and productivity be increased in the informal economy?

"To be clear, this paper does not argue for diluting hard-won rights to protections and to organise in the context of the formal economy and decent work. Instead, it proposes a more pragmatic and less binary approach to labour market policies, whereby at least some of those rights, as well as supports such as access to credit, are extended to the lower reaches of the informal workforce. It should be stressed that these rights and benefits can only truly transform workers' experiences if they are delivered as part of the process of addressing wider structural barriers, such as gender and caste-based discrimination and exclusionary growth patterns."

Dr Louise Fox, USAID’s Chief Economist, who joined the panel via video call from the US, emphasised that little is known about the informal economy due to the prejudice of formal work being seen as 'the only work that matters.' She praised the fact that pragmatism is finally reaching researchers and policy makers in this space, after talking about it for decades. She stressed the importance that solutions to these problems cannot be top down and the need to build and support collective structures for collective actions and voices. She bought attention to the need to interview the people involved to find out what they actually want to the need to provide training as well as the role of urban planning and policy in order to secure access to workplaces.

Proving the power of authentic voices speaking from experience and heartfelt action was Myrtle Witbooi, a South African labour activist, currently serveing as the General secretary of the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU) and President of the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF). She spoke of her work with the IDWF, and how for the first time domestic workers were able to speak for themselves with respect and dignity. She raised some challenging questions; how do we make domestic workers be seen as human beings? and although it is nice to listen to us, and nice to talk about us, what are you going to do to help? This encouraged questions and reflections on the role of technology, education and training to empower workers to act for their rights and improve their situations. 

The video and audio recordings of the full panel can be found on the ODI website.

Finding a Common Language

What do we mean by a ‘common language’? If we are all speaking the same language why is it that we often find ourselves experiencing a lack of common understanding. As the way in which we work together becomes more interdisciplinary it becomes increasingly important to ensure that we understand the meaning behind the language we use.

For example ‘equity’ within a gender awareness context has a very different meaning to the use of the same word within a financial context. This is why it can be useful to spend time decoding our language. If we are able to start from a place of greater understanding of the contextual meaning behind terms and words, we can then form shared meaning, from which we can work together for mutually beneficial results.


Even within the same sector the understanding and use of a word or term can be problematic. During a 2017 Oxfam conference on ‘Resilient Solutions: Strengthening collaboration in a time of change,’ the word ‘resilience’ took on different meanings depending on whether it was relating to climate, economic, organisational or social resilience. By inquiring into the qualities, attributes, values, journeys and experiences of resilience we begin to form a shared meaning, acknowledging that there is no one person that has the answer, and that it is not necessary for each person to share the same view if we share a common understanding.

One way to help find a common meaning and understanding is to work with Bohm dialogue. A communication technique that allows the shared meaning of the group to emerge. Speaking from a place of active listening and non-judgement we are able to value the unique experiences and perspectives of each participant, and by enquiring into any assumptions or biases we may hold, we can suspend our judgement long enough to allow new thinking to emerge.

If you are interested in talking to a member of our team about how we can help your organisation find a common language please get in touch at or find out further information about our taster workshop here. 


What would you like to CHANGE BY EXCHANGE in 2018?

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We know that well run, well facilitated and well designed processes will lead to good results. We also know that it is often taken for granted that facilitation or encouraging conversations is easy. It can be, but isn’t always. Just throwing people together and asking them to talk does not always work. Power dynamics, cultural biases, gender relations and other imbalances exist everywhere, if you don’t think about facilitation, you will only reinforce these.

We are very good at knowing about others problems, issues and deficiencies. It is easy to see issues from afar, but internal reflection is hard. Asking for help is also hard. Looking outside is hard. Processes that could benefit from an external input often don’t get them.  I would like 2018 to be about openness, connections and finding that common language. I would like 2018 to include a recognition that none of us are perfect, and that maybe by being honest and open we can all improve.

In 2018 I hope that people don’t passively hope that things will change. I hope that people understand that change takes work, takes openness, self reflection and facilitation.

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The starting place for all of the above is finding a common language. By this, we don’t mean “English”, we mean a place, a parlance and a tone where I am understood and I can understand others. We often encounter processes were the first hurdle to clear, is making sure that everyone is “speaking the same language” that everyone is on the same page. This can include making sure that success is, and what success looks like is understood. If we can’t find a common language, it is very difficult to change.


Where can we start?
Let’s start small. Open a conversation, hold a meeting. Talk about issues that you see others having “but can’t possibly be occuring to me”. Find a common language within your own organisation and with key partners. Make sure that your success matches those of your partners. Have a meeting to discuss gender awareness & equality. Have a meeting to establish your common language. Bring in a facilitator to help. Be open.

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“Farmers are not a homogenous group. They range from subsidiaries of international corporations cultivating hundreds of thousands of hectares to smallholders seeking to secure a livelihood from two hectares — and everything in between.
As such, interventions to address the negative environmental and social impacts of agricultural expansion cannot take a “one size fits all” approach.”-CIFOR

At the 2016 Global Landscapes Forum: The Investment Case, experts from the financial services industry met with leaders from the corporate sector, senior government officials and project developers to explore the potential of private finance in enhancing livelihood, environment and food security benefits through sustainable investment in landscapes.

The main factors considered were the risks and barriers that are currently preventing the $10-$20 billion worth of annual investment needed in sustainable landscape management. 

When considering the definition of ‘risk’ as something that exposes someone or something of value to danger, harm or loss, let us expand the conversation to what it is that we value.  The ‘something’ that we value is the natural world of our precious planet, its diverse eco-systems that sustain us through the provision of air, water and nutrition.  The ‘someone’ that we value are the small-holders, farmers and foresters that care for the land, forests and oceans to ensure that we continue to have access to clean air, safe water supplies and secure food sources, and that people who currently do not have adequate supplies of these can have increased access to ensure an equitable standard of living worldwide. 

Therefore, as well as a need for a common language between financial and development sectors, there needs to be clear channels of communication to ensure that the needs of all stakeholders are met.  The current conversations surrounding these issues seem somewhat weighted towards how the small-holder or associated project can become more attractive to investors, without much dialogue on how the investors can best support the project to achieve its desired outcomes.  A successful conversation is based on a two way flow of knowledge sharing and understanding through attentive listening.  Are we properly listening to the needs and experiences of the small-holder who exists in the ‘real world’ of high risk through climate hazards, shifting prices, high credit rates and insufficient financial literacy; risks that have a direct and significant impact on the livelihood of the small-holder, his or her family and community and the sustainable management of our landscapes. These seem much higher ‘risks’ in contrast to the ‘abstract’ world of finance governed by rates of return, percentages and time frames. 

Effective conversation is an opportunity to share values, desired outcomes, common language and understanding, knowledge and experiences from both sides to be able to better work together to create innovative solutions to existing challenges and increase the positive impact of sustainable landscape development.