Niina was the recipient of this year's Amsterdam Mamas Spark Scholarship. This is a scholarship sponsored by Stichting Amsterdam Mamas based on nominations from their community. It is awarded to promote entrepreneurship amongst international mothers in Amsterdam. Congratulations Niina! Let's find out how she experienced her day at Spark...
My day at SPARK 2016 actually started the night before. Honestly, I felt quite intimidated at the prospect of being surrounded by successful female entrepreneurs. Would I be worthy of their time or attention? How will I be able to prove to myself, and to them, that I was a worthy recipient of the scholarship? I could feel the self-doubt creeping in. But I decided to face my fears with facts. I spent a little time brainstorming what I could offer the SPARK community and prepared an elevator pitch. At least now I felt armed with a potential contribution.
As soon as I walked in the door I was reassured by the warm welcome. While waiting for others to complete their registration I chatted to the people around me. Some I already knew from working together and others I recognised from the online communities but had never actually met in person. I made a conscious effort to introduce myself to people around me: to connect and gather business cards. These might be people I never meet again. Then again maybe someday I might need their help, maybe someday I can connect them to someone else who needs their products/services. You just never know.
Notebook and pen on standby I was ready for the opening remarks and keynote speaker. I was in full sponge mode, ready to absorb, digest and assimilate all the words, wisdom and inspiration. And boy was I inspired. Amongst others, I was inspired (admittedly almost moved to tears) by the unprompted clapping and celebration of Colleen Geske’s success with Stuff Dutch People Like. I was inspired by the powerful presentations by Nassira Boudhan (FFORE) and Kanak Hirani (KARIGAR), reminding us to think beyond our immediate community/city/country and foster female entrepreneurship globally. I was inspired by the collective knowledge, compassion and determination. I wish I could bottle that feeling for the days I need the comfort, support and encouragement.
I was disappointed that there were sessions I missed (will keep a keener eye on the program/clock next time); that there were breakouts I missed (wish I could have gone to them all!); that there were people I didn’t get a chance to meet. For those, I hope to meet you again somewhere, sometime, online or in person.
Even if we haven’t met I wish you success in your endeavours. May you bring inspiration to others, may you help others and may your actions/businesses/services bring value to your community. Thanks to SPARK 2016, my scholarship nomination and the opportunity to attend, I will strive to do the same.
Niina Nuottamo has been a writer for the last 14 years, specializing in clear, compelling and streamlined content. She has also provided writing guidance, designed writing workshops, and given tailored writing trainings. Niina is currently employed by the medical communications agency Excerpta Medica. She lives in Amsterdam with her husband and 2 kids.