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Interview with Dipl. – Ing. Miranda Oben

Miranda oben2

Since its official launch at the CCBremen2006, the Business & Social Forum (BSF) has become an integral part of the CC! Once again it is regarded as one of the main activities of the Challenge Camerounais this year. The BSF has gained a lot of recognition in the Diaspora and welcomes many well-established entrepreneurs, students, and visionaries who all have a common goal – the economic development of Cameroon. To find out more about this special edition, we caught up with Software Engineer Miranda Oben, Co-Manager of the BSF in an interview.

Dear Miranda, it is an open secret that you are hosting this year’s „Challenge Camerounais (CC )“ event. Yet before the fun part, your team is working hard for what has become one of the most important aspects of the CC – the BSF.

Could you tell us a little more about the BSF, its objectives and the importance of women in this context?

Frau Oben: An open secret indeed! Let June 7th speak for itself (smiles). Thank you for inviting the BSF! This year’s forum runs under the motto: „Together for the transformation.“ Our mission is to deliver a major contribution to the development of the Cameroonian diaspora as well as the social and economic development of our beloved country Cameroon. We shall focus on building long-term contacts between entrepreneurs from Cameroon and possible partners from NRW, notifying SMEs in the NRW region about investment opportunities in Cameroon and most importantly present success stories of companies already established in Africa. The Academic Partnership and the „Excellence Award“ also play a key role in the context of this year’s BSF. Regarding the women: we have made this year’s program in all areas as attractive as possible for them. You won’t want to miss the panel discussion „Unlocking the full potential of women“ scheduled for Saturday!

CC: What is the focus of this year’s edition?

Frau Oben: Integration! The BSF, since 2006 has offered a very good platform at the CC! The main theme this year: „An Integrated Cameroonian Diaspora: Improving Partnerships for Innovation and Sustainable Development“. We want to present the Cameroonian Diaspora as an integrated and integrating structure. There are many other associations from other African countries invited to the CCDortmund2014 reflecting our motto „Open to the world „. In the panel discussion on Sunday, June 8, we want to expand on the integrated and integrative aspects of the Diaspora. We thus lay emphasis on important aspects such as education, economic growth and culture.

CC: What personal expectations do you have of the BSF?

Frau Oben: First and foremost continuity! I usually find it rather sad, that after a panel discussion or an event, the great work and results of the workshops have no follow-ups. I’d be glad to see that after this year’s event, the result of the projects developed have a follow-up by subsequent BSF teams and the Bureau Directeur (BD) of the CC! Secondly, “In diversity, there is uniqueness and strength“ together we can achieve much more, so I expect all of us to show good team spirit! Thirdly, I expect from the networking sessions discussions and results with good information about ways to promote investment in order to support social and sustainable goals. Lastly, our audience should leave convinced and informed about the many opportunities Africa has to offer!

CC: You are a committed member of the BSF team. What made you go on this path?

Frau Oben: Very good question! The vision of BSF is great because we provide an exchange platform for stakeholders in the business, academic, social and political environment of Germany and Cameroon, which sets an edifying impetus to forge profitable partnerships and intensify relations. However, my decision to join the BSF has something personal to it. After hosting the CCDarmstadt2010, I was invited to Cameroon as a press representative and moderator of the German – Cameroonian Business Days (EN , FR, GER) on Canal 2 International TV. THIS TRIP changed my life in various ways! Since then I have been recommended by the Cameroonian Diaspora repeatedly as a host, facilitator or moderator at forums and gala events. I was selected for the role of co- Manager of the BSF Dortmund2014, I hear! Someone must have seen in me not only an engineer, a wife, or a mom but much more! I appreciate this degree of trust and look forward to the BSF 2014!

CC: As a woman and with your commitment to the BSF, you are being referred to as iconic. What advice would you give other women out there who aspire to take this step as well, but fear to be faced with male dominance?

Frau Oben: I’d like to share two quotes: „It always seems impossible until it is done,“ said Nelson Mandela. „Wege entstehen dadurch, dass man sie geht.“, Franz Kafka. To be uniquely outstanding, you have to believe in yourself and stay focused! Trust me, it is overwhelming when people refer to you as a role model. I am here today thanks to the Diaspora. Sometimes the struggle between men and women is all in the mind. In this 21st century, many men accept women as equal or even as role models! Criticizing situations without taking the necessary steps to improvement is futile. And at this point, I’d love to say we have a great team at the BSF! There is no „male dominance,“ and my ideas at the BSF are always implemented if I convincingly substantiate them. My path should serve as an inspiration to others. I’d like to seize this opportunity to appeal to women: You have a lot of great ideas; join us to participate in business forums and events; let us TOGETHER shape the future of our children and subsequent generations! “WE ARE THE ONES WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!“