Betting on yourself means consistently putting yourself out there.
They say you miss all the shots you don’t take. That quote rang true for me when a fellow entrepreneur, Shar Wynter, based in Lisbon shared a fellowship opportunity, called The Break, with me. She is an alum of The Break and spoke highly of the program.
According to their official website, the program is a “once-in-a-lifetime journey to build an international network of 1000 women entrepreneurs, develop key skills, boost your business and immerse yourself in a 27-day work retreat in Spain.”
Wynter is in the tech space as a founder. I thanked her for sending me the information about the fellowship, she then encouraged me to apply. We all need people like this in our lives; ones that see our potential, pour into us and affirm our talents. I took an afternoon to apply.
Not too long afterwards, I conducted a formal interview in April of this year. I was excited yet cautious, I knew opportunities like this were competitive. The following month in May, I learned that I’d been selected to participate as a Break fellow. I was elated.
The Break Fellowship
The Break fellowship is recruits women entrepreneurs based in the European Union who have an established business or a business idea that they would like help launching or scaling. It is a fully funded fellowship by the European Union, Next Generation, and organized by Impact Hub Madrid, and other organizations. The Break fellowship has 1,000 alums who went through the program as of 2023.
My business, Bassē Co., was in its infancy of ideation and I was eager to leverage the resources The Break afforded me to build it. For one month the cohort, or Breakers, had a host organization in a region of Spain, my particular cohort had over 380 women in the program.
My smaller group of 18 entrepreneurs worked with host organization Como Una Cabra. The host organizers were María Rodríguez and Cristina Navarrete Ubieto. Our local challenge included working alongside the mayor’s office and local stakeholders like the board of tourism in Sierra Norte, northwest Madrid’s city center.
“For us it has been an important leap since it positions us as an organization specialized in women entrepreneurship and rural development at a territorial level, it has given us visibility and also the importance of supporting women talent as promoters of the territory,” said Rodriguez. She continued, “It has also helped us generate a network of organizations that work to promote the improvement of rural entrepreneurial ecosystems, which is a global challenge.”
Networking at The Break
I had opportunities to network with my cohort and bond with my flatmates. We created a group chat to discuss ways we could each support one another. I hosted a workshop on how to pitch your brand. Additionally, I also got a chance to attend workshops on budgeting, finance, market research, and professional development. I learned so much from the dynamic group of women in my cohort.
María and Cristina had this to say about hosting our diverse cohort:
“Seeing how, in a very organic way, a circle of support was created between women, with a lot of talent and knowledge, of very diverse origins and characters, who were capable of bringing out the best in themselves and sharing it to grow together.”
I was apprehensive initially when I learned I would be co-living with a group of 18 women, but in the end it was totally worthwhile. By the third week of the fellowship, I felt more connected to my cohort. We hosted sharing circles and that gave each of us the space to contemplate the impact of being together for nearly a month.
“I believe that one of the biggest challenges of entrepreneurship for women is loneliness, the lack of emotional support,” shared Rodriguez. “Joining networks or communities with other entrepreneurs will help you not feel alone, meet other women of reference and multiply the opportunities for collaboration and expansion of your project.”
After The Break
I returned to Lisbon excited to apply what I learned during my time at The Break. I am still in touch with my cohort. We connect via our group chat and in online communities like LinkedIn. It’s been a remarkable journey, I did not know the women I would meet via The Break. Betting on myself, taking that leap to put myself out there has expanded my network. It also built bonds with my cohort and is a beautiful reminder of the power we possess to transform our lives.