Leadership Blog

Empowering 20’000 Women Entrepreneurs: TGF’s 20:20 Initiative

By | Dana Brice Smith, News

Zurich, Switzerland – 19 August 12014 – We are excited to announce today the launch of Trestle Group Foundation’s 20:20 Initiative and our ambitious goal to empower and accelerate 20’000 women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging economies by 2020.

With the right support, women can be the fastest growing economic force in the world. Successful women entrepreneurs in emerging economies provide more than just economic opportunity and growth, they deliver social impact and change.louisa_susan

How? Linking human capital, networks and resources, our vision is to deliver a combination of our flagship Empowering Women Entrepreneurs Partnership Program for high-potential women entrepreneurs and customized training for early-stage women-led businesses to build sustainable pipelines and communities of women entrepreneurs.

Where? Our focus will be in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia/Asia Pacific, Africa & Latin America.

We are pleased to have Thomas and Yumi Wedgwood as the initiative co-chairs. For every 100 CHF donation, donors will receive the Wedgwood-designed, limited edition Oranges gift mug representing one of the 20’000 women supported. The hand-made mugs are specially produced in Stoke on Trent, United Kingdom.triumph_portrait

We encourage you to learn about the 20:20 Initiative, our programs, and why individuals and leading organizations partner with the Foundation to support women-led businesses in developing and emerging economies.

Women’s economic opportunity 2012: A global index and ranking from the Economist Intelligence Unit

By | Dana Brice Smith, Leadership Blog, News

Women’s Economic Opportunity 2012: A global index and ranking is an Economist Intelligence Unit publication commissioned and funded by the Vital Voices Global Partnership and the LaPietra Coalition and sponsored by ExxonMobil Corporation.

The 2012 Index Report is attached below.


You can also find the report, and the interactive database with the raw data behind the scores and rankings, on the EIU website:


By | Dana Brice Smith, News

La Pietra Coalition – a breakthrough initiative to advance women around the world – grew out of a gathering at New York University’s Villa La Pietra in October 2009, convened by Vital Voices Global Partnership and New NYU with the support of Paul E. Singer Family Foundation.

Held in anticipation of the 15th anniversary of the 1995 UN fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, some 50 participants assessed the current status of women, the progress made since 1995, and the obstacles to women’s empowerment and challenges to gender equality.

The moment demanded that a diverse group of leaders move forward as a coalition to develop strategies and programs to tap women’s under-utilized potential as entrepreneurs, workers and consumers. They also recognized that women are a stabilizing force in their societies and that governments should seek to bring about change that makes possible and leads to women’s economic growth, contributing to their own nation’s economic strength.

The overall objectives of La Pietra Coalition remain today – to highlight success models and advocate for government policy that creates an enabling environment that taps women’s great potential to contribute to the economic growth of communities, nations and businesses. Their focus continues to identify the levers for women’s economic advancement.

For more information, please visit:

Over the next decade, the impact of women on the global economy – as producers, entrepreneurs, employees and consumers – will be at least as significant as that of China’s and India’s, respective one-billion-plus populations, if not greater. In other words: if women’s economic potential can be successfully harnessed and leveraged, it would be the equivalent of having an additional one billion individuals in business and in the work-force, contributing to the global economy: often referred to as the “third billion.”

The Third Billion Campaign will properly prepare and enable women, in both developing, emerging and industrialized nations – whose economic lives have been stunted, underleveraged or suppressed – to participate more fully in the global economy.

This Campaign will unite governments, NGOs, corporations, youth and others globally – to partner toward expanding women’s access to finance and markets, legal protection, education and training. Some companies are already investing in women, recognizing that creating better opportunities for women makes good economic sense, for emerging economies whose development depends on this new talent, and, of course, for their own financial growth.

For more information, please visit:

TGF, Symphasis Foundation & Credit Suisse Support Under The Mango Tree

By | Leadership Blog, News

The following case study highlights the results of the Trestle Group Foundation’s Empowering Women Entrepreneurs Partnership Program (EWEPP) between Symphasis Foundation, Credit Suisse and Under The Mango Tree, Mumbai, India.

Under The Mango Tree is a social enterprise that brings to the market a variety of gourmet honey and related products to support rural livelihoods.

Their mission is to empower and equip poor farmers across India with beekeeping training, to improve rural livelihoods by building a nationally recognized fair trade brand of gourmet honey.

Symphasis, TGF, Credit Suisse & Under The Mango Tree

Trestle Group Foundation Partners with WEConnect International to Empower Women Entrepreneurs in Emerging Economies

By | Dana Brice Smith, Leadership Blog, News

Zurich, Switzerland – September 27, 2011 – Trestle Group Foundation today announced a new partnership with WEConnect International to increase access to women entrepreneurs in emerging economies and benefit from WEConnect’s ability to certify women owned business.

By providing Trestle Group Foundation’s human capital executive support to women entrepreneurs in emerging markets, and certifying their businesses through WEConnect, increased opportunities are created for these businesses to gain new clients and customers.  New clients will enable these entrepreneurs to create both economic and social change.  Through more employment opportunities fueled by new business, local communities will realize economic benefits.  Through increased success, women entrepreneurs will gain more recognition in their communities, become involved in new networks and have a stronger position in the business ecosystem to generate social impact.

“A key challenge for our Foundation is identifying qualified women entrepreneurs to support,” says Trestle Group Foundation Managing Director Dana Brice Smith. “Engaging WEConnect’s global network will significantly help us identify high-potential women-led businesses to support.”

“Gaining access to new clients and customers is one of the greatest challenges for women entrepreneurs in emerging markets,” says Sue Lawton, Director for Education and Innovation, WeConnect International. “Through the support provided by Trestle Group Foundation’s human capital, combined with our certification process, we are able to open new channels of business opportunities for women entrepreneurs in emerging markets.”


 About WEConnect International

WEConnect International is a not-for-profit organization that is opening doors to new supply chains. Led by corporate members, it registers and certifies firms that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by women and connects them with the growing global demand from corporations and the public sector for diverse and innovative suppliers. Complying with the standards set in the US by WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) WEConnect is now active in Canada, Europe, India, China, Peru, Chile, Turkey and its program continues to expand globally.

The organization actively partners with corporations, associations, governments, women entrepreneurs and their supporters to accelerate the growth of women-owned businesses.

In addition to registration and certification, WEConnect International delivers education and training programs for women business enterprises to help them bid successfully on procurement contracts.

Corporate Members include:

Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent, AMEX, Apple, AT&T, Boeing, Capital One, Cisco, Clifford Chance, Cummins, Dunn & Bradstreet, Ernst & Young, Exxon Mobil, Goldman Sachs, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Intel, JPMorgan, Manpower, Marriott, MasterCard, MSD, Motorola, National Grid, PG&E, Pfizer, RIM, RBC, Staples, UBS, Verizon, Wal-Mart.

To learn more about WEConnect International, please visit:

About Trestle Group Foundation

Trestle Group Foundation is an innovative nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and expanding sustainable economic opportunities in emerging economies by supporting high potential women-led businesses.

Guided by the belief that entrepreneurship fuels the engine that drives economic opportunity, growth and social progress, Trestle Group Foundation works to empower women entrepreneurs in emerging economies.

Corporate Sponsors include:

A-connect, Gübelin, Hexaware Technologies, IBM, IUCN, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Symphasis, UBS and Voices for Innovation.

To learn more about Trestle Group Foundation, please visit:

Contact Information

Trestle Group Foundation contact:

Dana Brice Smith

Managing Director

Trestle Group Foundation

+41 43 500 17 43

[email protected]

Sue Lawton

WEConnect International contact:

Director for Education and Innovation

WEConnect International

+1- 240-676-7364

[email protected]

PepsiCo Europe Helps Empower Women Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets

By | Dana Brice Smith, Leadership Blog, News

Geneva, Switzerland – September 2011 – PepsiCo announces the second phase of its women entrepreneur programme, in partnership with the Trestle Group Foundation, to provide business support to high-potential women entrepreneurs in emerging economies.

Nur Begen, the owner of OrganicEra, a Turkish company producing high quality cotton goods and Deniz Alkan, Finance Director of Beverages for PepsiCo Turkey, have been selected as the second round of executives and female entrepreneurs to participate in the programme which provides a unique blend of executive coaching, collaborative team support, skill building, as well as access to networks and resources.

“One of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur is having so few people around you who approve of what you are doing and believe that you can succeed,” says Nur Begen, OrganicEra.  “The first thought that came into my mind when I learned that I would participate in the Trestle and PepsiCo Partnership Program was that I could finally make people really ‘believe’ in me and what I have tried to build for the last five years,” she continued.  “The invaluable executive support from PepsiCo is encouraging me so much, and I feel that by the time our partnership has concluded OrganicEra will be ready to grow in a more sustainable way.”

The initiative is sponsored by the PepsiCo Europe Diversity & Inclusion Council and is based on the Trestle Group Foundation’s Empowering Women Entrepreneurs Partnership Program which identifies a qualified woman entrepreneur in an emerging economy and partners her with a specially selected female PepsiCo executive who will help her build the skills, strategies, practices and networks needed to develop her business. By extension, the partnership also aims to support economic opportunities within the entrepreneur’s wider community by allowing her to fulfill her potential and secure long-term business success.

“At PepsiCo, we are committed to promoting diversity, attracting the world’s best talent and providing challenging opportunities for our women executives to develop” says Maria Sharpe, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Personnel Officer PepsiCo Europe. “The next stage in our partnership with the Trestle Group Foundation is an exciting milestone for us which not only brings to life one of PepsiCo’s intrinsic values – talent sustainability -­‐ but also provides the opportunity for our female executives to give back, share their experience and effect real change by supporting women-­‐led companies in emerging economies.”

“This partnership is a great experience for me. It will allow me to truly experience the day-to-day life of female entrepreneur, and gain a better appreciation of how hard she is working to succeed in a quite male dominant Turkish culture,” says Deniz Alkan, Finance Director of Beverages for PepsiCo Turkey.

Dana Brice Smith, Director Trestle Group Foundation, comments: “We believe that entrepreneurship fuels the engine that drives economic opportunity and growth. By supporting women-led businesses, we encourage social progress.  Partnerships with companies like PepsiCo – that provide vital executive support – are invaluable in driving the success of women-led companies in emerging economies.”


About Trestle Group Foundation

Developed by a dynamic team of international business professionals, Trestle Group Foundation is an innovative, change-provoking, non-profit organization dedicated to creating and expanding sustainable economic opportunities in emerging economies by supporting high-potential women entrepreneurs.

For more information about Trestle Group Foundation, visit:

About the Empowering Women Entrepreneurs Partnership Program:

The award-winning Partnership Program identifies qualified women entrepreneurs in emerging economies and partners them with established business professionals who help build the skills, strategies, practices and networks needed to overcome barriers to growth, and further develop the entrepreneur’s business.

The customised, relationship-based program model provides a unique blend of executive coaching, collaborative team support, skill building and networking – actively engaging networks and resources to “open doors” to new business opportunities.

By extension, the partnership aims to support economic opportunities within the entrepreneur’s wider community by allowing her to fulfil her potential and secure long-term business success.

What differentiates the Trestle Group Foundation is its background in and commitment to business drivers, both for the women entrepreneurs and sponsor companies.

The Partnership Program provides a platform for leading organisations – and their executives – to engage, give back and directly affect opportunities for the women-led businesses. Additionally, sponsors can address numerous social and business challenges, while simultaneously reinforcing the company’s established core business objectives and values.

Partnership Program Goals and Objectives:

  • Through executive coaching and collaborative team support, identify, address and overcome the core challenges that limit the woman entrepreneur’s ability to effectively grow her enterprise.
  • Build entrepreneurial partnerships, enriching cross-cultural learning experiences and life-long relationships across the world.
  • Provoke change by supporting women-led businesses – a driving force behind economic growth and social progress in emerging economies.
  • Create sustainable opportunities, measurable results, role models and replicable business models for future women entrepreneurs.
  • Deliver successes that extend beyond the individual entrepreneurs by positively impacting the local community and country, as well as the organizations and individuals who participate in the program.

About PepsiCo Executive

Deniz Alkan, Finance Director for PepsiCo’s Turkish Beverage Division has been chosen to participate in the Partnership Program. Deniz, based in Istanbul, Turkey, has worked for PepsiCo since 2006 and currently coordinates a team of 17 Finance staff. Deniz speaks both Turkish and English fluently and has a very high drive for results and strong coaching skills, which will provide her with the perfect platform to partner with the Trestle Entrepreneur.

About Entrepreneur Partner

Nur Begen is the owner of the brand OrganicEra. Located in Istanbul, OrganicEra is a supplier of high quality textile products such as towels, bathrobes and bed linen made of both organic and conventional cotton. OrganicEra also supplies 100% organic clothing including t-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, underwear and sleepwear, shirts, and children’s toys.  All OrganicEra organic products are made in Turkey of the finest quality cotton and are certified by Control Union. For more information, please visit:

About PepsiCo

PepsiCo offers the world’s largest portfolio of billion-dollar food and beverage brands, including 19 different product lines that generate more than $1 billion in annual retail sales each. Our main businesses — Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito-Lay, and Pepsi Cola — also make hundreds of other enjoyable and wholesome foods and beverages that are respected household names throughout the world. With net revenues of approximately $60 billion, PepsiCo’s people are united by our unique commitment to sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for people and our planet, which we believe also means a more successful future for PepsiCo. We call this commitment Performance with Purpose: PepsiCo’s promise to provide a wide range of foods and beverages for local tastes; to find innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment, including by conserving energy and water usage, and reducing packaging volume; to provide a great workplace for our associates; and to respect, support, and invest in the local communities where we operate. For more information, please visit:

Follow PepsiCo:

Contact information

PepsiCo contact:

Rochelle Mossack

[email protected]

+44 (0) 203 047 2082


Trestle Group Foundation contact:

Dana Brice Smith

mailto:[email protected]

+41 79 836 62 44


By | Dana Brice Smith, Leadership Blog, News

Zürich, Switzerland, June 8, 2011 – Trestle Group Foundation today announced the addition Désirée Steinmann to the executive coaching team.

“As a professional coach and Success Group Leader at Professional Women’s Group Zürich, Désirée is an inspiring and motivating executive with the ability to think outside of the box and see possibilities where others see problems,” said Trestle Group Foundation Managing Director Dana Brice Smith. “We welcome her addition to our executive and entrepreneur coaching efforts,” he continued.

About Désirée Steinmann and Steinmann International:

Désirée has an educational background focused on economics and successfully pursued a ten-year sales and marketing career with international sales responsibilities. Already then her success was based on her focus on people: how they make decisions, how different personality types communicate and what drives or motivates people.

After two births and taking time off for her children, Désirée started with her second career path. She is a Professional Master Trainer, DISC Profiler and Coach U advanced Coaching Graduate. Désirée is committed to life long learning. She is an ICF Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with hundreds of hours of coaching experience, who coaches individuals and teams by creating clarity, ownership and action. Désirée has worked and lived in four countries in Europe and Canada which lay the foundation of her expertise in cross-cultural communication and integration. She successfully started her own training and coaching company in 2003 and works with international companies and individuals. Désirée has a holistic and authentic approach.

To learn more, please visit:


By | Dana Brice Smith, Leadership Blog, News

Zürich, Switzerland, June 1, 2011 – Trestle Group Foundation today announced the addition of Lisa Sennhauser-Kelly to the Foundation Advisory Board.

“Lisa is senior international executive with a passion to support women to achieve their best,” said Dana Brice Smith, Trestle Group Foundation Managing Director. “Her passion combined with board-level experience, makes Lisa a respected and valued addition to the Foundation advisory team,” he continued.

About Lisa Sennhauser-Kelly:

Lisa Sennhauser-Kelly is a Managing Director at UBS, currently as global Head of the Group Finance Implementation Team. Lisa’s career prior to UBS spanned 14 years and 3 continents – Australia, Europe and the USA – in banking, auditing and industry. Lisa is passionate about supporting women to achieve their best, and held various positions on the Board of the Professional Women’s Group of Zurich, including three years as their Chair. Lisa is currently a Board Member of the Swiss Finance Institute Alumni Association since 2000, currently focusing on women members. The 15 years with UBS have been challenging due to mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, important transactions, difficult markets, all in an environment of greater transparency and increasing regulation. Nevertheless, these are relatively easy in the big picture; Lisa is married to a working dad and has two children, aged 11 and 8.



By | Dana Brice Smith, Leadership Blog, News

Zürich, Switzerland, May 19, 2011 – Trestle Group Foundation today announced the addition of Mette Skjold Rotbøll to the Foundation Advisory Board.

“Always looking for more-than-profit, Mette is a financial impact specialist,” said Dana Brice Smith, Trestle Group Foundation Managing Director. “What makes Mette unique is her understanding of, and commitment to, sustainable investment solutions that target ecological, societal and financial goals,” he continued. “As a global connector, Mette brings a wealth of experience and resources to Trestle Group Foundation.”

About Mette Skjold Rotbøll:

Mette Skjold Rotbøll is a financial impact specialist and independent wealth adviser with the understanding that truly sustainable solutions target ecological, societal and financial goals. Founder and Managing Director of the independent wealth advisory firm Vigil Wealth Management AG, Mette believes in long term relationships based on integrity, insight and vigilance. Always looking for more-than-profit, her roles include global connector, governance and gatekeeper.

In Switzerland, Mette has worked within the Swiss Financial sector and served as Director, LGT Bank (Schweiz) AG, Member of Senior Management, Maerki Baumann & Co. AG, Relationship Manager, Societe Generale Private Banking Zurich, and Head of Business Development, UBP Nordfinanz Bank Zurich. Additionally, Mette served as adviser, ambassador and friend to MIM-Kyiv Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) Program, Kiev, Ukraine, plus trainee and consultant to F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Management Development in Basel.

Mette graduated from Copenhagen Business School with a MSc. Economics & Business Administration, Leadership. She has also completed programs on Corporate Governance, Business Management and HR Development at the University of St. Gallen (HSG), where she is a Mentor. She is active within VR-ERFA and The Female Board Pool (both I.FPM-HSG Center for Corporate Governance). Prior to this, Mette studied architecture (first part) at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture (Prof. Johann Otto von Spreckelsen) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Mette was born in Denmark, grew up in Australia, finished school in Denmark and Switzerland, where she has lived since 1993.



TGF & PepsiCo Partnership Featured in Forbes CSR Blog

By | Dana Brice Smith, Leadership Blog, News

Pepsi Takes Performance With Purpose to Heart

The last couple of weeks have been nothing short of a roller coaster ride for the  food and beverage giant PepsiCo. First news hit the markets that for the first time ever, Diet Coke had overtaken Pepsi as the second-most popular soft drink in the country, behind Coca-Cola.

Right on the footsteps of this news that had the media—and bloggers—in a tizzy over whether PepsiCo’s Refresh project is hurting its sales, the company announced the second phase of its women entrepreneurship program in partnership with the international nonprofit Trestle Group Foundation, where senior leaders team up with women in emerging economies to provide them with mentoring, coaching, and other business development support.

It was perfect timing to connect with PepsiCo’s chief personnel officer, Cynthia Trudell.

To view the full interview, please visit: