At a time when coming together is more important than ever, we talk to Boryana Tuzharova, co-Founder of International Women Connected, which has over 50K members worldwide.
IWC is a digital and real-life Business Relationship Platform that brings together women of all nationalities, business and educational backgrounds, cultures and experience. This is a dedicated space for women from both entrepreneurial and corporate backgrounds.
International Women Connected Ltd was born from a struggle – Boryana Tuzharova was living abroad in Turkey, newly married, with her two young children, without friends or a support system, and she struggled to not yearn for the thriving life she enjoyed back in Sofia. After struggling to find a female support system and understanding that she was not alone in this experience, Boryana joined forces with her University friend Anna, also from Bulgaria, but now living in London, and founded IWConnected.com as the first social network exclusively for women, selected by location and occupation. Initially, International Women Connected was for women in a similar position to them, perhaps struggling with the social aspect of being an expat, however, both women soon realised this concept could be used to enhance business across borders.
International Women Connected is underpinned by a belief in women supporting women, whether that be socially or in business. This is for women who want their voice to not only be heard, but be understood. In 2016, IWC originally had 25 members and the network now boasts 50K members.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
My name is Boryana and I am Bulgarian by origin, I am a journalist by profession, entrepreneur by chance and a mother of two beautiful daughters who are my inspiration. I am a co-founder and CEO at International Women Connected Ltd – the first social network for women. I am on my PhD in journalism and after living abroad for 15 years, I have settled between Sofia and London.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No. I never planned for anything. However, I always knew I would have this kind of a career – I always knew I had to invent something bigger than just working somewhere for someone.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Of course. We all do. Both personally and professionally, I have been challenged numerous of times. Overcoming each and every one of them however shaped me and my work.
One of the biggest challenges for IWD was to prove the business model would work and to find people initially who would form the global team.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
To bring something from an idea, something that it was only in my head, to a working business.
Our business was founded out of a need. I left my home country at the age of 21 with my husband and we were an expatriate family. We had to change countries and while he had his working environment, I had to adjust alone. International Women Connected Ltd was born from that struggle – I was living abroad in Turkey, newly married, with two young children, without friends or a support system, and I struggled to not yearn for the thriving life I had enjoyed back home. So, after struggling to find a female support system and understanding that I was not alone in this experience, I joined forces with my University friend Anna, who I had been working with for a while and together we founded IWConnected.com as the first social network exclusively for women, selected by location and occupation. Initially, International Women Connected was for women in a similar position to us, perhaps struggling with the social aspect of being an expat, however, we soon realised this concept could be used to enhance business across borders. International Women Connected is underpinned by a belief in women supporting women, whether that be socially or in business. This is for women who want their voice to not only be heard, but be understood. We now unite over 50K women across the globe.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I can be stubborn. My personality of being a believer and being persistent didn’t allow me to give up. This is the major point when you create something of your own – to keep going.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I have my own mentors around the world. Once you learn how to listen you can be easily mentored and you can become a good mentor. It is all about listening and understanding.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
Education at early age for both females and males. Children need to know how to treat and be treated. Gender Equality cannot be achieved in a day. Patriarchy needs to be un-taught. Step by step with the new generation, I can already start to feel the change.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
To be more confident and don’t be afraid to speak the truth.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
We are currently uniting over 50K women all over the world and we hope to continue to grow and grow – I dream of having IWC representatives in every big city around the world.
I dream of having confident, powerful women to jump on board and add value to what we do. I also dream of acknowledgement and IWC changing the game for females across borders.
I’d love to gather under one roof women from all fields. To give the good example of powerful, motivated strong females and to show them to the world.
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