Costa Women were featured this week by The Telegraph Expat in an article entitled "The Future's Female in Spain" Below is the interview; I'd love to hear your feedback!
Expat adventures: the future's female in Spain
As the expat network Costa Women welcome their 2,500th member, we look at how British women are making their mark in Spain.
CostaWomen.com encourages online and offline networking for women in Spain
Photo: Rex Features
By Suzi Dixon 06 Jan 2014
CostaWomen.com now has almost 2,500 members on their website and, with an additional social media engagement of more than 6,500, it's the largest expat network for women in Spain. Ali Meehan originally set up the group with just the Costa del Sol in mind - hence the name - but, with a lady from Barcelona joining in month one of the business, it was clear that a country-wide network was much needed.
"CostaWomen.com helps women navigate their way around Spain - whether it’s setting up a business, or retiring, moving here with a family, or travelling alone, creating a forever home, or just as a trial," said Mrs Meehan. "Our members can help with advice and real life experiences - meanwhile, the website promotes as many Spain-wide seminars, courses and events which could help with your business setup and ongoing investment in your training."
The role of women in Spain has changed dramatically in the past 40 years and the workforce is now 40 per cent female. Globalisation has empowered women throughout this traditionally Catholic country, so it stands to reason that expat entrepreneurs can gain confidence by networking with not just their fellow Britons but also English-speaking Spaniards in their region of choice.
According to searches on ExpatCareers.com, Spain is the sixth most popular destination for British citizens searching for a job abroad. However, a number of ladies in the CostaWomen.com network moved to Spain to retire but then re-entered the workforce due to financial necessity, while others are entrepreneurs. "We are seeing retirees discovering that their pensions may not be as large as they expected in the current economic climate so are having to look for work," said Mrs Meehan. "They are using their business knowledge and skills and putting those back to work, while others are magnetising a hobby."
A good example of the creative nous of the typical Costa woman would be Maxine Raynor, who runs MoneySaverSpain.com from Madrid. She has tapped into the trend for savvy savings during the credit crunch to create a website and weekly newsletter, detailing offers and discounts that are available across Spain in stores and online.
Another, Ann Larson, is using her background in pharmacy and interest in natural products to successfully run Lujos.co.uk. This family business makes their own olive oil from trees on their farm, which adjoins the Sierra de las Nieves. They use the oil, plus wild rosemary, lavender and other natural products to produce their own skincare line.
Putting Vejer on the foodie map of Europe is the dream of Annie Manson – she runs Annie B’s Kitchen (www.anniebspain.com) and believes Sherry is the most underrated and undervalued wine in the market. She has a Sherry Educator’s Certificate for the Denominación de Origen of Jerez - so you can imagine her delight that Jerez has been named 2014 European capital of wine!
All three businesses are web and social-media savvy. The internet is certainly helping empower women of all ages to make the most of their expat experience. "I personally believe social media is of more importance to expats as it provides a great platform for research into the country you want to live before you even arrive," said Mrs Meehan.
While the typical Brit back home may be shy and reserved when it comes to networking, moving abroad to work full-time, part-time or start a business can be the perfect way to build confidence. CostaWomen.com by its very nature is all-inclusive, being mostly made up of expats but open to English speaking females of any nationality. "Generally I have found women very keen to share their experiences and knowledge of living life in Spain," said Mrs Meehan. "You just have to ask."
Currently, 57 nationalities are represented on CostaWomen.com. What's more, they have links with 1230, a UK-based female networking group, for Spanish businesses looking to expand into the UK, and vice versa.
"The world is definitely a more female friendly place than when I started working in the 1970s," said Mrs Meehan. "During that 40-year period, gender relationships have been evolving; more so than at any time in history.
"As Robert Jensen of Truthout recently said '…any system that depends on one group claiming dominance over another undermines our ability to shape a decent future'. Never before has there been so much optimism for the female future."
© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2014