The One Where We Celebrate 8 Years of SHE Malta

Written by Prabjit Chohan-Patel

Getting past the first three years of running a business and then reaching the five-year mark is good going, requiring financial viability, operational stability and strong understanding of one’s customer base/audience.  As time goes on, however, a business (or rather its management suite) needs to display even more resilience and aptitude for market adaptation, continuity and creativity. 

Recently, SHE Malta marked eight years of building, empowering, supporting, educating and sustaining a community for female entrepreneurs, freelancers and aspiring founders.  That is eight years of business continuity by a small company that started out hosting a few annual public events which grew in momentum, before  making a strategic pandemic-led pivot to launch a membership programme and online events.  

SHE Malta’s eighth anniversary presents the perfect opportunity to hear from the community on what SHE means to them and what it has done for them.  But first, let’s delve into the company’s back story and hear from SHE co-founder and director Sass Woods.

“The SHE Malta journey began in 2016 when I teamed up with Julia Perry as we had both already been pursuing our own projects highlighting women’s achievements and supporting small businesses.  We never thought that a casual chat between the two of us would evolve into such a beautiful community that has inspired so many other female communities to do the same! 

I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of community in business that has not only helped countless women step into their power and build confidence but has also shaped me into the leader I am today. Starting as a co-founder and now serving as the sole owner and director since Julia’s 2020 relocation to the UK, I have found my voice through the unwavering purpose of our mission.  Each day, I am fueled by the incredible stories of our members; women who embark on new ventures, forge meaningful collaborations and pursue their dreams with renewed self-assurance.  I’m super proud that through this community, women have banded together to support one another’s endeavours, pass on knowledge and mentor other women who wish to carve out their own unique path.  It truly embodies the SHE motto of ‘collaboration over competition’.  

My biggest highlights from the last eight years would be:

> hosting Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament for an exclusive SHE online member event in 2021.

> featuring the likes of Helga Ellul (one of Malta’s top business leaders and founder of management consultancy firm Advise Ltd) in 2021 for an “Ask-the-Expert session” on negotiation

> building an on-going relationship with the Malta Chamber of SMEs, working closely with CEO Abigail Agius Mamo

> winning the JCI Entrepreneurial Accomplishment Award in 2018 for my work with SHE

> hearing the accomplishments of SHE members during a ‘sharing circleat a Christmas event at Marilu’s in 2023.  The positive feedback about the community was nothing short of priceless.

> and an event that will always remain very close to my heart is the 2019 Luzzu event where Amy Camilleri Zahra, Claire Zammit Xuereb, Trudy Kerr and Gulja Holland allowed themselves to be so vulnerable on the panel.  Hearing how they overcame major life obstacles and hurdles put so much into perspective.

Some of my favourite pearls of wisdom from SHE event past speakers and collaborators are:

“If you don’t innovate, you get left behind.” – Bettina Falzon, Co-owner, Director & COO of Lovin Malta: IWD collaborative event with Malta Chamber of SMEs, Palazzo Parisio, March 2023.

“Just show love. If you show love, it will come back to you.  Find loyal people because without them you have nothing.” – Claire Abela, Director Franks: ‘Leading with Love’ event, Lucy World, April 2024.

“Not making a decision is making a decision…except you’re making it as a victim instead of making it as a winner.” – Catherine Hurley, Head of Global Accounts at AIS Interiors, Energy Specialist, NED on Confident Decision Making: Ask-the-Expert online session, February 2022.

“Finding balance and what feels right is a very personal choice for each woman and one that takes time to resolve.” – Elisa Krantz Co-founder  & CEO at on entrepreneurship, personal struggles and triumphs as a wife, mother and leader of a growing firm: Lily Agius Gallery event 2017.

“Channel competition to something positive; always surround yourself with people better than yourself and you will do better.” – Sarah Kennard, Public Relations Consultant, MPS Marketing Communications on staying focused and open to constant learning: Active Spirit event, 2018.

And so we come to some thoughts from the SHE community.

As a member of SHE, I have had the incredible opportunity to connect with numerous business owners who are brimming with innovative ideas. This experience has been transformative for me in several ways as it provided me with a platform where I can engage with like-minded women who are passionate about their different ventures. The diversity of perspectives and the wealth of knowledge shared within this community have expanded my horizons and inspired me to think creatively about my own business endeavours. Every event I attend leaves me feeling more empowered to face challenges. Through SHE, I have learned that no idea is too small and no dream is too big. I am grateful for the friendships and professional connections I have made, and I look forward to continuing this journey of growth and inspiration with SHE. – Giannella Barbieri, GB Legal 

I always look forward to SHE Malta sessions and make sure to be available because it’s a place where I can truly be myself, meet genuine people and find inspiration for my work’s next stages. There’s no pretence from anyone; it feels like a community of newfound friends.  SHE has helped me believe in my projects, work on them and share them with people who genuinely support them.  I always take away something valuable from each event and have grown to love the creative sessions because they helped me tap into my creativity which was probably buried before. The IWD event in particular, affirmed that creating innovative projects will keep our culture alive and encouraged me to keep working on them.  Stephanie Bonello, Co-founder, Crispy Studio

I think my biggest take away from SHE was one session where succession planning was touched upon. The insights shared were incredibly valuable and have significantly impacted my understanding of this critical topic. The expertise and practical advice provided will undoubtedly help many SHE community members to plan for the future of our businesses more effectively. Thank you SHE  for organising such an enlightening and empowering event.  Rebecca Bonnici, CEO, BELS Malta 

After one year of being a SHE Malta member, I can strongly state that the decision to join SHE was one of the best!  I found a community of amazing women who never stop learning or evolving and who genuinely support each other.  In SHE, I found the beauty of sincere human interaction, inspiration and motivation.  Thank you Sass for creating and curating SHE and thank you to all the extraordinary women who are part of it!  Happy anniversary and many, many years to come! – Deea Buzdugan, Photographer 

Since the beginning of my journey as an entrepreneur in Malta with Sip and Paint, this group of empowered women has been a cornerstone of my experience.  Every month, I look forward to our meetings where I’ve found support and a sense of family.  As an expat, finding a community can be challenging but here I’ve discovered a welcoming hive.  Thank you.  I eagerly anticipate many more wonderful moments together. – Victoria Chan, Founder, Sip and Paint

When I think of community building, I think of SHE.  It is more than a professional network.  It is a space in which you can be fully seen and heard; a space where you can grow, collaborate and contribute.  The SHE community becomes a family and even though I am often far away physically, there is a constant connection with other members.  Everyone is always ready to support you professionally and personally from recommendations and brainstorming solutions to emotional and mental support.  I love the culture within the group, the value of togetherness and collaboration and the variety of meeting types. I highly recommend SHE for both new and seasoned female entrepreneurs. Best wishes and Happy Anniversary! – Hannah Cremona, Business and Marketing Strategist

I joined SHE Malta six months ago and was immediately struck by the friendliness and sense of belonging.  There is a genuine intention to collaborate and support which is not easy to come across in the business world.  As a solo entrepreneur, this network of formidable women helps me feel a bit less ‘solo’ in the journey. – Elaine Dutton, Business and HR Consultant, Founder, The Change Agent 

SHE Malta is such a pivotal part of my entrepreneurial journey!  Before I discovered SHE, I felt utterly lost as an entrepreneur.  I was just finding my way, hesitant even to write down the name of my business or explain what I did.  SHE transformed that uncertainty into confidence, allowing me to proudly declare “I’m the owner of Little Isle Studio”.  It gave me a place to call home when I felt adrift and alone on this new path and provided a network of incredible people and invaluable friendships that have blossomed over the years.  It took the loneliness out of entrepreneurship and gave me the colleagues I had dearly missed. I am incredibly proud to be part of this remarkable network of special women. SHE has spurred my personal and professional growth and I’ve learned so much through all that SHE offers.  The collective strength, resilience and support of this community continually inspire me to push forward in my entrepreneurial journey.  Well done sass on creating such an amazing community! – Rebekah Kamsky, Digital Strategy and Ecommerce, Little Isle Studio

I have been a member of the SHE community for over two years and I can say confidently that the sessions and topics are always well-planned, well delivered, interesting and in line with the continuous community feedback. There hasn’t been a single session from which I didn’t take away something and there is always some special insight.  What amazes me every time within this community is that you realise that people at all stages of their life/business journey have common fears, doubts and struggles – even those who have succeeded!  That truly is a proof that we are all human and highlights the need for genuine connection and support – priceless.  Sarah always manages to make each space feel safe and supportive whether it’s online or in person. Well done to her as the brains along the way – and also to us members for always interacting and pushing each other in the right way! – Kenzie Sammut, Owner, Health Coach & Fitness Trainer at Body Dynamics 

As for yours truly, like I said last summer on my first anniversary of writing the SHE blog, SHE Malta has a special place in my heart.  It has brought me camaraderie and unexpected friendship with humble,  approachable women in business.  It has exposed me to inspiring commercial stories that I wouldn’t have known about without SHE.  It provides eye-opening exposure to the drive, determination and guts of the female entrepreneurs whom I meet through the events.  The SHE motto of ‘collaboration over competition’ is not a fashionable mantra that is trotted out mechanically; Sass has accomplished the real deal…  I ‘feel the motto’ simply walking through the door to a member event or conducting interviews for the blog articles with fiercely intelligent yet genuine and warm businesswomen.  It’s an honour to be part of the story through my blog contributions.  Prabs (Prabjit) Chohan-Patel, Writer & Editor, WriteContent

The conclusion belongs to the brains behind SHE Malta: 

“SHE has always been about putting purpose first…and it has been an interesting journey of self-discovery to say the least. Our community is a testament to the strength that comes from unity and mutual support and it continues to inspire me as we grow together.  I look forward to what the future holds for SHE and thank all the wonderful ladies that have shared the SHE space until now.” – Sass Woods, Co-Founder & Director, SHE Malta.

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