The World Business Angels Investment Forum announces H.E. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, President of the Republic of Croatia (2015–2020), as Chair of the Global Women Leaders Committee.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was the first woman to be elected to the Presidency of Croatia since the country’s first multi-party elections in 1990 and its independence in 1991. At the age of 46, she was also the youngest person to assume the presidency. In 2019, she became the chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, a network of 75 current and former Presidents and Prime Ministers— the only organization in the world dedicated to women heads of state and government. She received WBAF’s 2019 Grand Award: ‘Global Woman Leader’. She carried the Croatian flag to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup to cheer the Croatian team in the final, where Croatia played against France. Last July, she was elected as one of five new members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) .

The Global Women Leaders Committee Vice Presidents are H.E. Martha Delgado, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico; Angela Gerekou, President of Greek National Tourism Organisation and Deputy Minister for Culture (2014-2015);  Swati Mandela, Granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and WBAF High Commissioner for South Africa; Marie-Christine Oghly, World President, World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM); and. Lucy Chow, WBAF Senator for the UAE and Member of the Executive Investment Committee of the WBAF Angel Investment Fund, will serve as Secretary General.

(London) ‘Women do not wait for the future’, says Swati Mandela. ‘When one woman helps another, amazing things happen, and they become real leaders’. The Global Woman Leaders Committee of the World Business Angels Investment Forum gathers some of the world’s most influential of these leaders to explore today’s biggest challenges, foster deep collaboration, and generate new ideas.

The Global Woman Leaders Committee is committed to leveraging unique access to the world’s most influential woman leaders, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and artists—uniting these global forces to harness their collective knowledge, address today’s critical issues, and generate innovative solutions  to empower the world economy.

Women have made impressive marks in politics and the business world, making their voices heard and breaking the glass ceiling of boardrooms, including those in the male-dominated tech industry. More and more women parade into tech companies or even become startup entrepreneurs, making their mark in this male-dominant industry. In the 2017 Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, 18 of these ‘she-bosses’ work in the tech industry. The rise of women startups is not a Western phenomenon. In China, where women are often relegated to a submissive back-seat role, 55% of startups are owned by women, according to the 2018 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs.

WBAF announces Global Board Members of the Global Woman Leaders Committee. H.E. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, President of the Republic of Croatia (2015-2020) will chair the global board.

Global Woman Leaders Committee is committed to leveraging unique access to the world’s most influential woman leaders, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and artists—uniting these global forces to harness their collective knowledge, address today’s critical issues, and generate innovative solutions  to empower the world economy.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, says ‘’Women have, for long years, succeeded in their careers by virtue of their ability to adjust to the male-dominated culture and field-specific business processes. They play by the existing rules in the workplace and have the additional hurdle of society’s perceptions of how women should act and be seen. While education and practice have reduced some of the invisible angst of being a woman in a leadership role, there are challenges nevertheless. Current women leaders have a responsibility to embrace a role-model status and address those challenges head-on with action and execution.

To that end, more and more women in leadership positions are pushing the boundaries of gender equality by capitalizing on their leadership qualities and their skills, knowledge, experience and insights. They are actively pursuing what they want from their job and their career, not waiting for it to come to them.

Through the WBAF’s Global Woman Leaders Committee, we will aim to identify key steps that can produce women who are strong leaders in business, in arts, in politics — in any area male-dominated. We will also define the characteristics of strong women leaders, their mindsets and their action plans that help them overcome challenges of male-dominated industries.’’

Baybars Altuntas, WBAF Executive Chairman, says, ‘’I believe that the Global Woman Leaders Committee  under the leadership of H.E. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will bring a wide range of opportunities for women in the world and will explore the real reasons for the gender-based funding challenge, ways to overcome the challenge, ways that women founders – while lobbying for long-term change – can operate intelligently in the current ecosystems.’’

About Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
President of the Republic of Croatia (2015-2020)


Los Alamos High School, New Mexico, USA; Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish and Literature, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb (1993); Specialised Annual Programme in Diplomacy, International Law and Economics, Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, Austria (1996); Master’s Degree in International Relations, University of Zagreb (2000); Fulbright scholar, pre-doctoral research in International Relations and Security Policy, George Washington University, USA (2002-2003); Luksic Fellow in Senior Managers, Government Executive Programme, JFK School of Government, Harvard University (2009); Visiting scholar, Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC (2011); completed doctoral studies at the University of Zagreb; currently working on PhD thesis in International Security Studies; Honorary doctorates from the Slovak Matej Bel University for International Relations and Economics, Russian Plekhanov University of Economics, Hungarian Corvinius University of Budapest, and San Pablo University, Argentina


Croatian Ministry of Science and Technology (1992); Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1993), Head of Office of the Deputy Minister (1993-1995), Director of the Department for North America (1995-1997); Counsellor at the Croatian Embassy in Ottawa, Canada (1997), subsequently promoted to Minister-Counsellor and Deputy Chief of Mission; Minister Counsellor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2001-2003); Elected to the Croatian Parliament and sworn in as Minister of European Integration (2003) and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (2005); led Croatia’s negotiation process on accession to the European Union and NATO until 2008; Chairperson-in-office of the Southeast European Cooperation Process (2006-2007); President of the Ottawa Convention (2005); Vice-President of the UN General Assembly on behalf of Croatia (2006); Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the USA (2008); NATO, Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy (2011); President of the Republic of Croatia (2015-2020)


Frequent guest at the United Nations, promoting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular with respect to peace and security, reducing inequality and increasing opportunities, gender equality and education, energy and environmental protection; Participated in the work of the Arraiolos Group of European Presidents; Launched the Three Seas Initiative with the President of Poland (2015); Co-President of the Brdo-Brijuni process to promote future membership of Western Balkans countries in the EU; Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders (2019); Member of the International Advisory Board of the US Atlantic Council (2020-)


Isa beg Ishaković international award (2015); EBAN “Visionary Leadership Award” (2016); Collar of Mubarac the Great of the State of Kuwait (2017); National Star of the Republic of Romania (2017); Portuguese Order of Prince Henry (2018); National Flag Medal of the Republic of Albania (2018); Evening News Award (2018); Fulbright Lifetime Achievement award (2019);  World Business Angels Investment Forum WBAF Grand Award (2019), “Paul Harris Fellow” of the Rotarian Club (2019); Honorary citizen of several cities around the world; Special Recognition for the Development of Inter-Religious Dialogue from Croatia’s Islamic community

About the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF)
An affiliated partner of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) is an international organisation aiming to ease access to finance for businesses from start-up to scale-up, with the ultimate goal of generating more jobs and more social justice worldwide. It is committed to collaborating globally to empower world economic development by creating innovative financial instruments for innovators, start-ups, and SMEs. The Forum interacts with leaders in all areas of society, first and foremost in business and political spheres, to help assess needs and establish goals, bearing in mind that the public interest is of paramount importance. WBAF engages a wide range of institutions, both public and private, local and international, commercial and academic to help shape the global agenda.

About GPFI

The Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) is an inclusive platform for all G20 countries, interested non-G20 countries, and relevant stakeholders to carry forward work on financial inclusion, including implementation of the G20 Financial Inclusion Action Plan endorsed at the G20 Summit in Seoul. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands is the Honorary Patron of the GPFI.


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