Fortune-State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership Gathers in Belgrade, Serbia

Vital Voices Global Partnership
3 min readNov 22, 2023


Fortune-State participants in Belgrade, Serbia, with Vital Voices Global Partnership program leaders

Alumni of the Fortune-State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership from across Europe and Eurasia gathered in Belgrade, Serbia, during the week of November 5. The International Alumni Component of the program provides an opportunity for alumni to share the best business and leadership practices, brainstorm solutions to common challenges, and form a regional network of women leaders. During the convening, participants attended networking opportunities, visited successful women-led businesses, and had meetings with representatives of the U.S. Embassy.

The week began with introductory sessions where the 13 participants from six countries shared about their work, experiences from the Fortune-State Program, and what they were looking forward to in the week. The group was joined by two mentors, Rachelle Franklin, President & CEO of Frontline Marketing and Promotions, and Yanire Braña, Founder & CEO of MET Community. Throughout the week, the mentors held training sessions on storytelling, digital communications, and entrepreneurial mindset.

During the event, participants had the opportunity to hear from distinguished women leaders from Serbia. The speakers included Brankica Janković, elected Commissioner for the Protection of Equality of the Republic of Serbia twice — first in May 2015 and then again in November 2020 by the National Assembly. Zoja Kukic, a co-founder of an ed-tech startup, spoke about her goal to bridge the gender gap in the tech industry by providing tech kits that cater to girls’ interests. Lastly, Jovana Gligorijevic, an award-winning journalist, shared her expertise on the reporting of sexual violence and the development of trauma-informed journalism in Balkan countries.

There were also two site visits to women-led enterprises during the trip. The first was Bagel Bejgl, a bagel shop in the city of Belgrade founded by 2018 WE Empower Awardee Marijana Savic. This business is unique in that it is a social enterprise dedicated to the economic empowerment of women and girls who are survivors of human trafficking in Serbia. It aims to secure the sustainability of its NGO arm by directing profits to support its beneficiaries. Bagel Bejgl has provided training and jobs for dozens of women and girls in a hard-to-employ category, enabling them to gain employment more easily during its eight years of existence.

The second visit was to Fempower, led by Anja Stanisic (Fortune 2023 mentee), which is a platform that represents a dynamic force for female empowerment. They’re dedicated to equipping women with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to attain financial independence. Their transformative content, mentorship initiatives, and networking opportunities empower women to break financial barriers.

The week was filled with exciting events, including a visit to a gaming company founded by Serbians, updated headshots for the cohort, and a special reception at the US Ambassador’s Residence. However, the most important outcome was the bond that developed between the 13 women leaders. They now have strategies and tools to move forward in their leadership and business journeys, as well as a strong and supportive network that will last a lifetime.

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At Vital Voices, we believe that when women are empowered, societies thrive. Our honoree programs have been at the forefront of driving change and igniting progress for women in the economic, political, and social sectors for more than a generation. Through these initiatives, we provide transformative opportunities, mentorship, and training to empower women leaders, enabling them to unleash their full potential and create lasting impact in their communities.

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Written by the Communications Team at Vital Voices



Vital Voices Global Partnership

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