Happy International Women’s Day from us at the CDC! Today we would like to highlight some inspiring teaching cases about empowered women in business. You can find all of these cases on our case catalogue or on The Case Centre.

Finance in Motion: Investing in Development

Finance in Motion (FiM), a German impact asset management firm, was founded by Sylvia Wisniwski in 2009 and is dedicated to promoting sustainable development in emerging markets. The company has grown significantly over the years into one of the world's leading impact investment managers. They leverage finance to create a positive change for people and the planet. The start-up works with the public-private partnership model, combining capital from both sources. The company grew rapidly and now has over 200 employees in over 17 countries. FiM is currently transitioning from a start-up to a scale-up and operates worldwide. For Sylvia, it has become increasingly more challenging to be in 'the middle of the spider web', managing the company's strategic outlook and the people within. She is now facing the dilemma of how to best set up middle management and how to build sustainable success for FiM.

Marlies Dekkers: The Girl Entrepreneur Who Dared to Dream (A&B)

This case series describes the story of Marlies Dekkers, an award-winning Dutch lingerie designer. Marlies Dekkers has built a successful global brand by challenging traditional notions of femininity and empowering women to embrace their sexuality. Her designs have been featured in top fashion magazines and worn by celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Madonna. Case A represents a rich account of her initial steps in developing and validating her business idea, followed by rapid scaling and growth of her company, as well as her subsequent struggles in managing the expansion and the cashflow. Case B tracks the reinvention of her company following bankruptcy, after an all-woman investor team stepped in to save her after declaring bankruptcy.

Kilimanjaro: Challenge, Self-reflection and Gender Stereotypes

The case describes the journey up Mount Kilimanjaro of four ambitious women – women of different ages, and from diverse cultural backgrounds and life situations, who have learnt that it is possible to work well in a highly risky and demanding environment with other women. After initial misunderstandings, the difficult nine-day trek forces them to work together to overcome physical and mental barriers. Participants report that the preparation, climb, and post-climb reflection made them more aware of their personal capabilities, resilience, and ability to build the mutually supporting networks needed to ascend their heights in the personal life and also in the organizations they wish to build and lead. They also report that it is helping them to: (a) recognise the complexities facing high-potential women and the importance of relying on one another to reach a common goal; (b) gain a greater understanding of how people make decisions in high-risk situations; and (c) reflect on women’s potential to overcome the social, organisational and cultural ‘mountains’ that stand in their way.

Wizenoze: Matching Digital Content to Learners in a Post-truth World

Wizenoze is a Dutch education technology company that developed a platform which matches digital content to the reading levels and interests of students. The platform uses advanced algorithms to analyze and evaluate the reliability and credibility of online content, providing students with trustworthy information and helping them to develop critical thinking skills. This rich multi-source case offers opportunities to engage students in a wide variety of topics related to technology, innovation, marketing, entrepreneurship and strategy. It describes the challenges facing CEO and co-founder Diane Janknegt of Wizenoze, an Amsterdam-based EdTech start-up, as her company moves towards a broader commercialization and fast international growth. Wizenoze provides software solutions that facilitate online learners in their search for suitable educational content. Its ambition is to “curate the Internet”: finding for each learner educational content online that suits their study objectives and individual skills. To do that, Wizenoze developed machine learning algorithms and commercialised the solution as an API that a client can integrate into its systems. The case discusses several critical decision points at this fast growth stage in the company’s trajectory: Which B2B clients or segments should Wizenoze target and why? What branding strategy should it adopt for this purpose? Should it consider a direct-to-consumer model? Which markets should be prioritized in its international expansion?

International Women's Day is a reminder of the progress that has been made towards gender equality and the work that still needs to be done. The inspiring women mentioned in these cases serve as role models and demonstrate the important contributions that women can make in business and society. Their stories remind us that gender should never be a barrier to success!

Happy reading,

The CDC team.

Case Development Centre