Cary Event Links Business Women Across Continents

Cary, NC – More resources are available for men to network than women. So to build more opportunities, business women in the Triangle met in Cary to not only support young leaders but to make a connection with businesses on another continent.

Grace Dzidzienyo, host of the Kenyan delegation and owner of Enyo International

Grace Dzidzienyo, host of the Kenyan Women’s Leadership Delegation and owner of Enyo International

Links Between Communities

Athena of the Triangle, part of the larger Athena International, held an event Thursday, September 29, 2016 with the Women’s Leadership Delegation from Kenya, bringing business leaders from that country to Cary.

“This event is hoping to cultivate a strong organization here in the Triangle,” said Andrea Conner, interim executive director of Athena International. “And with the collaboration with the delegation, we also want to create a global connection with other continents.”

Athena International is an organization that works to support and develop women in business, while also recognizing the achievement of men. This attracted the attention of the Kenyan delegation’s host, Grace Dzidzienyo.

“Andrea aligned with what my company does for women so you could say I followed her here,” Dzidzienyo said.

From the meeting at Academy Street Bistro

From the meeting at Academy Street Bistro

Dzidzienyo is the owner of Enyo International which works to create economic development for women.

“We not only work with prominent businesswomen but we also go into the rural environment and work to provide opportunities,” Dzidzienyo said.

The Kenyan delegation will also be going to the North Carolina chapter of the U.S. National Committee for UN Women and is leading an African Women Leadership Forum with North Carolina Central University’s School of Education, among other stops.

Andrea Conner, interim executive director of Athena International

Andrea Conner, interim executive director of Athena International

Building Up Women

The partnership of Athena of the Triangle and the Kenyan delegation – led by Ida Odinga, managing director of East African Spectre, founder of the League of Kenya Women Voters and wife of former Prime Minister Ralia Odinga – consisted of a networking meeting Thursday night at Academy Street Bistro and a mentoring event earlier in the day at Prestonwood Country Club.

“The focus of the event was to bring established women leaders together with upcoming leaders,” Conner said. “We have to build an opportunity. For men, it’s more natural to take someone in a junior position and guide them and network but women wear so many hats that it’s harder.”


Conner said women lead differently than men and Athena lays out eight ways women are different as part of their leadership model: through learning, advocacy, collaborations, authenticity, courage and the way women form relationships, give back and show joy and celebration.

Athena International has collaborated with a variety of important women, including Marlo Thomas and Gabrielle Giffords, and Athena of the Triangle has worked with Annie Clark and Andrea Pino who brought the Title IX case against UNC-Chapel Hill.

“We are trying to foster that leadership footprint here in the community,” Conner said. “It’s not there yet but we are working on it.”

A recent study by GoodCall put the Raleigh-Cary area as the 82nd best place for women entrepreneurs.


Story by Michael Papich. Photos by the Modern Portrait Studio and Grace Dzidzienyo.