Cherie Blair and Intelligent Woman Converse on the Future of Sustainable Business

On Tuesday, May 21st, 2024, Fibank’s Smart Lady program and Mentorite BG had the honor of hosting special guests Ms. Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, CEO Dhivya O’Connor, and senior partner at Lady Blair’s law firm Omnia Strategy LLP, Ivaylo Dimitrov. The event, which took place at the Residence Exclusive Club in Sofia, brought together business customers of Smart Lady and participants of the Mentorite BG program for women entrepreneurs. The focus of the event was “Encouraging Women to Develop Sustainable Business.”

“It was a great pleasure to meet the Smart Lady community and learn about their amazing stories. I congratulate First Investment Bank for this wonderful initiative driven by innovative thinking,” said Ms. Blair, an internationally renowned lawyer and social entrepreneur.

Ms. Blair, an acclaimed human rights defender, founded her foundation in 2008 and has since helped over 250,000 women from over 100 low- and middle-income countries through its global mentoring platform, HerVenture business skills app, and training programs. These efforts have not only driven women’s success in business, but have also had a positive impact on local communities, economies, and the environment.

The mission of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women aligns closely with the values of Smart Lady, whose community includes over 1100 Bulgarian business women. Fibank, one of Bulgaria’s largest banks, is majority owned by Ivaylo Mutafchiev and Tseko Minev. The bank has invested over BGN 120 million in the Smart Lady program, which focuses on supporting startups and existing businesses owned or managed by women. In addition to tailored banking products and services, the program also provides access to mentoring sessions and training. Supporting sustainable entrepreneurship is another shared value between Smart Lady and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. In 2021, First Investment Bank launched the Sustainable Lady Fund, which has provided crucial support to a dozen projects in areas such as aviation, trade, social services, agriculture, and eco-livestock.

“Our goal with the Smart Lady program has been to become a trusted business partner for women entrepreneurs. In the early years, we focused on encouraging women to start and develop their businesses, providing them not only with perfect banking, but also with the support they needed in the form of a women’s business community, education, and training. More recently, we have also sought to stimulate a sustainable transition to a circular economy by increasing the digital and environmental skills of female entrepreneurs,” commented Ilona Staneva, Marketing and Advertising Director at Fibank.

The Mentorite BG national mentoring program, supported by Smart Lady, also prioritizes the environmental footprint of business. Since its inception in 2023, it has become a training hub for over 110 female participants, including three women from Yemen, Afghanistan, and Ukraine who were selected to join the program by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Bulgaria.

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