Mrs Madi Sharma was one of the keynote speakers at the Seventh International Conference “Entrepreneurship Teaching, Research and Practice in Global Environment - Building Bridges”, held on 8-10 June in Pomorie, Bulgaria. Together with the rest of the speakers – internationally recognized professors and consultants, she presented in an excellent way the European Economic and Social Committee and herself. Madi Sharma showed in one vital and charismatic, non-standard way her believes and value system on “need for action”, fully accepted and acclaimed by the audience. With smiling but pointed on her famous “no excuses”, she made great impact on this heterogeneous (as status, age, sex, coming from four continents) audience. This was the second invitation to Madi to be our speaker. The first time she spoke in front of entrepreneurs and then – of students. In both cases, she found and impressed the spirit of these different audiences. My opinion is that Madi Sharma needs to play more in the conservative academic community as a real “icebreaker” and to “refresh the air”. Her “no excuses” will be red line, dividing students as “acting” and “waiting”.

Professor Kiril Todorov, Doctor of Economic Sciences, Head of Chair of Entrepreneurship, Business Faculty, University of National and World Economy; Chairman of the Managing Board, Bulgarian Association for Management Development and Entrepreneurship; Director, Institute for Entrepreneurship Development, University of National and World Economy and Vice President for Bulgaria, European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship

It seems everyone I talked to wants me to express appreciation for your inspiring presentation last year at our Digital University. Your years of experience, your depth of understanding of the idea of Women Leadership  and your ability to present the subject in such an interesting way produced one of the most memorable moments in our foundation's history.  I personally appreciated your personal story you shared with the audience. The subject intrigues me and encourages to do more with my life and go outside the comfort zone. Please consider adding our conference to your annual speaking tour. You are always welcome here in Warsaw. Thank you

Jowita Michalska, CEO, Foundation for Strategic Competence Development www.fscd.pl

Madi Sharma is an unbelievable lady who can motivate and inspire almost everybody! A hard working and intelligent woman who against all odds, did not just made it but created history. A successful mother, entrepreneur, activist and leader! What a role model not just for women but people across the world! Thank you Madi for coming into my life!

Ria Nicoletti Morphitou, Associated Lecturer, University of Nicosia

The Women’s Business Initiative International (WBII) had the pleasure of inviting Madi Sharma to present the keynote address and hold a workshop at our 10th anniversary event held on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016, in The Hague, Netherlands.  During this inspiring talk, Madi addressed approximately 90 women entrepreneurs on the topic of female entrepreneurship and how she was able to develop her successful businesses under very difficult circumstances. The keynote address was interactive and informative, and the participants were delighted by Madi’s presentation, and appreciated the energy and depth of her talk.  I have personally also heard Madi’s inspirational talks on a number of occasions to larger mixed business groups, and they, too, enjoyed and benefitted from her skilful presentations and thoughtful and moving messages.    

Charlene Lambert, Vice-Chairman,  Women’s Business Initiative International, The Hague, Netherlands

Conferences are all about stories. Some of them are a waste of time, some impress you when you hear them and then there are stories that stay with you for ever, like Madi's story. She has the ability to touch you with her experience. She makes you think. And above all, she makes you act. A force for good is the best force and Madi uses it positively forcefully. 

Sonja Šmuc, Managing director, Managers' Association of Slovenia – MAS www.zdruzenje-manager.si

Madi’s Mantra is “Make a difference’ which indeed she has – and continues to do I first met Madi in 1999 when I invited her to be a guest speaker in her capacity as UK Asian Women Entrepreneur of the Year. The conference was the first UK Conference focusing on Women’s Enterprise Support which I hosted at Durham University and she captivated all present. Since then I have had the pleasure of working with Madi on numerous occasions across the world supporting women’s economic empowerment. Madi is a true ‘change maker’, practicing what she preaches on a daily basis. She has experienced real hardship and, as Madi does, learned from it, and turned challenges into opportunities. She is a role model for entrepreneurial practice providing inspiration to all who meet her and tirelessly supporting those who are embarking on their own journeys into new venture creation.   I am delighted to see that she has written her long awaited book so that even more of us can benefit from her wisdom. Madi is remarkable and I am proud to know her.

Dinah Bennett OBE, Director, International Consultants for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise www.consult-ice.com      

To personally and more deeply emphasize the lessons from Open the Door, Madi, Entrepreneur and Member of the European Economic and Social Committee, reminded us ladies that “the 21st century is the era of ‘co’”. Cooperation. Collaboration. Coordination. Community. “You’ve got each other,” she said. Ms Sharma’s talk was moving – she herself choked up thinking about her former desperate days when she had to literally pick herself up from the floor. Ms Sharma’s is more than a ‘rags to riches’ entrepreneur story. Her story is about the value of ideas. She began, “If I give you one euro and you give me one euro, then we each have one euro. If I give you one idea and you give me one idea, then we both have two ideas.” And when Madi talks about ideas, she’s talking about each person’s idea for herself or himself – all 7 billion of us on this planet. That’s why she’s begun MADI Group, which stands for Make A Difference Ideas, a collective of international enterprises, not-for-profits and NGOs. Ms Sharma has recognized, she says, that while her objective is “to turn 7 billion Ideas into Action”, she cannot do it alone. Finally, Ms Sharma wants every female entrepreneur, of WBII and beyond, to know: “Profit is not a dirty word.” Profit is not something to be ashamed of. Profit is not something to apologize for. Profit means you’re doing something right, and Ms Sharma’s got many examples of female business leaders around Europe with higher returns on investment than their male counterparts. Women can and do make profit, and ain’t that grand?

By Mandie van der Meer-Danielski, Celebrating the Feminization of Leadership

 The CSR Division of Al Ahli Holding Group would like to extend to your good self the deepest gratitude and appreciation for your efforts in making the Global Youth Forum 2015 a great success. Your contribution to the event was very important to the audience, and your talk was very interesting and truly engaging. It was a life time opportunity for our youth to listen to your invaluable thoughts and insights that will help them immensely in their development and will have a positive impact in their lives. We surely hope that this will mark a step towards more cooperation between us as we try to pave the way for our youth towards a better future, and we hope that we can continue to strengthen this relationship through other initiatives and programs. Once again, we thank you for your time, effort and commitment to help us achieve our goal of empowering the youth by opening their eyes and minds to a whole new world of opportunities.

 Lina Hourani, CSR Division Director, Al Ahli Holding Group

On behalf of KADEM, COJEP and FEMYSO, we would like to express our most sincere appreciation to support our project and attend the network event: women's participation in politics and lobbying. Indeed, our participants particularly appreciated your practical and relevant intervention. They appreciated the level of knowledge and informed support provided by you. We have been working tirelessly since many months to provide a platform for women from across Europe and Turkey, to build their capacities and raise their voice.  There is a real need for them to have a voice within EU institutions and different stakeholders and to be represented in all spheres of life. We are working to do precisely this - to facilitate networking between women/men of our network, develop the capacities of women organisations and empower them to contribute to the well-being of a diverse, cohesive and vibrant societies for all.

Najatte Kaaoiss, Network expert KADEM, COJEP and FEMYSO

What a wonderful event! When Sinead set my expectations as high as she did, I was wondering who on earth could make that kind of impact. Now I know. When I got home last night, my wife turned to me and said: “Madi was my favourite” - and I know why. You have the ability to inspire women to be the person they once ‘imagined’ they could be. As a husband and a father to two girls I hope your message is heard. My wife runs her own SAP consultancy firm working 10 hours a day, she is a full-time mother, and she is a full-time friend, confident and wife. I defy anyone to tell her women can’t do everything! Where I can facilitate you to spread that message, let me know. 

Dirk L. Daenen, Dean, UBI-Brussels, United Business Institutes

It was a pleasure to meet you and, above all, listen to your speech. I'm sure you have received thousands of greetings for this, but once again I would like to stress how critic, intense, accurate and CORRECT it was. 

 Pablo Garrido, Office & Membership Manager, EBAN - European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds and other Early Stage Market Players. 

Deep and sincere thanks for your kind words, and let me just say HOW MUCH your contribution was appreciated by the participants who came together in the conference room, with different interest, priorities and experience, and who had such an inspiring exposure to the women's entrepreneurship agenda due to your presentation! You have greatly contributed to the success of the conference, and thank you so much for investing your outstanding personality, passion and for charging the participants of the conference with your positive energy! Moreover, your speech has generated a "storm" of tweets on internet, while you were still speaking and of course after! You really touched the hearts and the minds! Thanks for your support during the preparation for the conference, as well as for the expression of readiness to collaborate in the future! Let's use the soonest possibility to discuss future cooperation both on support to women's entrepreneurship development and good practice promotion, and let's look at various options both at the personal and at the institutional level

 Dr. Olena Bekh, Specialist in Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Skills Development - Country Manager, ETF operations

 All students appeared completely engrossed in your talk. This was naturally reflected when we analysed the feedback forms – You were the most popular speaker among participants. Congratulations!

 Andrea Gerosa, Chief Thinker, ThinkYoung

I would like to thank you, personally for the work you do and how you've come to be where you are. Your final speech was incredibly inspiring (my own mother has had a similar past, so I could somewhat relate), for me it's not about the Zuckerberg's, but the people like you, that no matter how hard the situation is/ has been, try even harder for success. (I wanted to thank you personally but you were being interviewed and I imagine your agenda is rather busy so I didn't want to keep you)You're a true inspiration!

Christopher, Think Young

I was very moved by your inspirational speech at the ‘Reducing Domestic Violence’ event on 21 March as well as by your message below. It is stories such as these that keep motivating all of us to work towards a day free of violence as a stepping stone to a more peaceful and harmonious world.

Jeremy Gilley, Founder, Peace One Day

 I was in your lecture yesterday: I had lumps in my throat as you grew emotional during the speech. And yes I am a man but I find it just human to feel like that. It was a truly moving lecture and so much like and unlike other lectures delivered by other guest speakers. Like them because it was to encourage the young to be ambitious and not to give up; and so much unlike them because it chose to target initially the heart and then the mind of the audience. It worked; well, it worked for me. You said you are happy if your presence can change the life of at least one; well it can bring change to mine. However as I know you have a lot to do I'll only bring it to your attention if you think you want to hear about it. Thank you again for the very sincere lecture you delivered yesterday.                

Behrooz Soltanian, PhD, English Lit   Henley



Indeed meeting you has been a privilege and an opportunity to move ahead what I believe is a common agenda in a most innovative manner. To both of us entrepreneurship and fostering entrepreneurs are central. Entrepreneurship is the pillar of economic development and job creation. And for sure not big enterprises, but the very small ones. While every government, every international institutions are advocating job creation, the central role of entrepreneurs in doing so is not really acknowledged. We both know that fostering entrepreneurship implies addressing as a whole, and simultaneously a few main issues. Education and transfer of know-how, finance, and business support as well a framework conditions, not to speak about ensuring proper market conditions. You have developed a remarkable education tool, simple, concrete which can be used with all kind of potential entrepreneurs. Nothing sophisticated, but it works. And you have proven it in teaching hundreds of persons, again and again, with an impressive success. What we both did in Burundi is a superb example of a solid approach which makes sense. It is unfortunate that we could not implement the full concept and that we could not do the proper follow up. You have over the years demonstrated the validity of a concept, which should be mainstreamed, and so far has not. You have also done so with an impressive level of humanity. It is great to work with you.

Jean Freymond, Global Development Forum, Geneva 

I would like to share my experience it all started in Delhi when I had a chance to be for you first social entrepreneurship workshop I loved you charisma while you were giving talk.  Which motivated me within and as I was fortunate to travel with your family and friend gave me opportunity to observe you more closely as it's my nature to admire a person who walks its talk. It can be related to different aspect they is certain connection you build with people when you meet them and its real that's what I like about you. When I say real means there is not good or bad just the way it is which in today's world it's difficult for normal person to have this quality of life so called balance life .which is there within you I have learn a lot from you in a short period of our time together.  Yes you have an impact on my life... as it help me a lot in my daily life because  my life is dedicated to my village  and many year working on creating sustainability  village model in my community… Be the change you want to see is fundamentally truth. NO EXCUSE, it helps Founder live happy organization in India goa. LIVE HAPPY is a NGO look for practical solutions to community needs, whose ethos are derived from the importance of living a clean, happy and healthy lifestyle that promotes the community and sustainability. Our main objectives are promoting healthy living, waste management, Ayurveda health care and the preservation and development of our community through various activities, sessions and workshops in our community centre Happy Home.goa India.  

Fely www.livehappygoa.com

Madi é la mia mentore.  L'incontro tra me e Madi non é stato un incontro tra persone ma tra sinergie, vibrazioni e sorrisi. Ci siamo capite all'istante come se ci conoscessimo da sempre. Cosa amo di lei? Il suo sorriso, la sua resilienza, il suo essere stata capace di rialzarsi mentre le sue gambe continuavano a piegarsi. La sua forza di volontà, la creatività nel costruire la sua vita e la lungimiranza nello strutturare il suo lavoro. Madi é un'imprenditrice visionaria che ha saputo costruire, partendo da quella che era la sua motivazione personale e privata, un nuovo modello di impresa che si basasse su quelli che sarebbero diventati i punti cardine del concetto di "Impresa Sociale": inclusione, motivazione, accoglienza, apertura, coinvolgimento, opportunità, uguaglianza, integrazione e creatività. Oltre ad essere un'amica e un modello, Madi é un Faro. La sua storia e le sue competenze la portano ad essere una guida per tante donne che, in diverse parti del mondo, dall'India al Nord Africa, dal Sud America all'Europa,   lavorano su propri progetti imprenditoriali e in Madi trovano una consigliera, un supporto, un saggio. Grazie di esistere Madi!

IT Nicoletta Voltarelli

Dear Madi, I was so blessed to have met you and hear you speak at the TEDx in Wiltz! My parents were both present at the event and my mother just couldn't stop taking about how inspiring you were! I now have your bead in what I call my 'shrine box' as a source of motivation and inspiration, fuelling me to be persistent and believe in myself and what I can be capable of. A heartfelt and moving speech you made! If anyone will put those 7 billion ideas into action I am certain that it will be you! I hope that we cross paths in the near future and I wish you well with all the wonderful work that you are doing!

Savenaca Vocea. TEDx UBI Wilitz feedback

 I would like to thank you for your support to the European Commission proposal for a Directive on improving gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges. This shows once again the commitment of the European Economic and Social Committee to the promotion of gender equality in the EU. It is indeed important to promote board-ready women to fight the myth that there are not enough qualified women to fill board positions and to give visibility to talented women aspiring to these positions. As you are aware, I strongly supported the initiative launched by leading business schools to establish the Global Board Ready Women database identifying high-achieving women in business. The Global Board Ready Women database allows companies to search over 8,000 highly qualified women ready to start a Board-level position. I very much welcome the diverse initiative underway to promote women’s full participation in the governance of companies and organisations as members of boards of directors, such as the Female Board Pool Belgium and the Female Board Pool Luxembourg, to name just a few. I encourage a strong co-operation between all stakeholder involved in these initiative and can ensure you that the European Commission is doing everything in its possibilities to promote gender balance in economic decision-making positions.

Viviane REDING, Vice-President of the European Commission, Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

  “A stimulating story”. “I learned very good things about life”.

“I have learned how to love myself”.

“She’s able to talk about business and also move hearts”.

“My favourite. Her story is similar to mine”.

“One of the most inspiring people that I’ve ever met”.

“I became more optimistic and more motivated to believe in myself”.

“Madi was real”.

 Comments from participants:

Dr. Tetiana Katsbert -- YEPP Programme Officer Internationale Akademie (INA) gGmbH an der Freien Universität Berlin Institute of Community Education Youth Empowerment Partnership Programme (YEPP)


I am not replying as a member of the EESC Secretariat, but am happy to send you my neutral appreciation, which happens to be very positive: In years of close cooperation, all I can say is that you managed to surprise me over and over again with your human and social rights approach of a series of domains: Gender Equality, Roma people, Corporate Social Responsibility, empowering NGOs, etc. But it was in the first domain that you exceed yourself to outstanding speeches and performances. I will never forget the one on the "gender pay gap" nor the one of the need for women to affirm themselves. You are remarkable - a gift to the EESC! 🙂

Judite Berkemeier, Friend - EESC Administration

Madi is a passionate entrepreneur, politician and a tireless advocate for youth. The issues are urgent and serious—they need a strong voice. We can only thank Madi for her frankness and her no-holds-barred approach. 

Caroline Jenner CEO, JA Europe www.jaeurope.org


I am delighted that Madi Sharma has finally written a book about her entrepreneurial journey and the lessons that she has shared with so many people across the world. She is truly an inspirational person and her story highlights what can be achieved when you stop using excuses and instead take action!  

Professor Thomas M. Cooney,  Editor 'Small Enterprise Research' (http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rser20/current#.VeQ7jZpRHIU)

College of Business, Dublin Institute of Technology

One evening in the early 1990’s I was giving a talk on my experiences during Saving the Historic Lace Market in Nottingham.  Following my talk I was approached by a young lady who introduced herself as Madi Sharma.  After offering her kind comments she asked if I would consider mentoring her with her embryo business interests, which I agreed to do. I have followed her career with interest. There have been many up’s and downs in her life but Madi never knows how to quit.  She has gathered a huge amount of experience culminating in being invited to represent the U.K. in Brussels, an appointment granted by The Prime Minister’s Office. Madi now tours the world giving lectures on “Women in Business” and finding time to give advice to would be Entrepreneurs.  Only by experience, finding the way to solve difficulties can you help others.  Her dogged determination and passion for what she believes in is a shining example to all who will have the opportunity to meet her.

Michiel Stevenson OBE DL Hon. LLD Hon.MA, Honorary Freeman of the City of Nottingham

 A knowledgeable & authentic soul, charismatic leader & motivator, compassionate mom & friend, clear communicator, a dynamic cognisant business person, empathetic listener with honest approach to resolutions, skilful & trustworthy “Madi” who will go an extra mile out of her way to facilitate you on personal & professional front with love & care. It’s not hard to become a good person like Madi but it needs a good heart and caring attitude to make choices that correspond to your beliefs & actions. Life is not without difficult & rocky paths but Madi being a real fighter has moved on when things were not going well & almost every corner was dragging her down. She remained composed, steadfast, polite & respectful. She has followed the Prophet’s principal that “Treat others as you would like to be treated”. She practices what she preaches; her actions follow her big statements & words that she echoes in her public speeches. We often talk about successful change and change management processes. I believe she is an excellent example of change management; the way she has planned, strategized and implemented the methodologies / rules to transform her personal as well as professional life.   I know she may not like or love every person she meets but she is kind & generous to all. Her attitude may invite you to rethink about our surrounding culture & we would probably rewrite patterns of behaviour to develop certain qualities in our personalities. I salute generous, warm, and loving Madi for what she has done selflessly for others. She easily attracts others towards her purely for her caring & positive attitude. Madi possesses integrity, is detail oriented, humble & adaptable, and has good manners and a visionary leader.

Waheed Qaiser, Chairman & CEO, IPSL/ London

 Occasionally in life, we are given the gift of connecting with people who have risen above extreme adversity to achieve greatness: Madi is one of these gifts. The instant I met Madi 20 years ago, I was struck by the twinkle in her eye and her smile and knew this it was the start of a lifelong friendship. I could feel her drive and energy and as I got to know her, I realised that this was a woman destined to change the world.  Madi was a single mum still in the process of emotional recovery from being a battered wife. She was a kitchen table entrepreneur, a resourceful visionary dedicated to forging a business out of nothing in order to support herself and her daughters. She was filled with epic determination to prove to her girls - and to wider society - that disadvantage born of her sex, single parenthood, mixed-race and the domestic violence she was subjected to, would not prevent her achieving greatness. Right there, drinking coffee at her kitchen table, I could see Madi was part woman, part missile who was always going to smash the glass ceiling, Her business employed many people. She became the establishment's poster girl for female, ethnic entrepreneurship: she then had to take on the same white, male dominated establishment who sought to take her down and to crush her. She fought them and ultimately beat the patriarchs but it was a harsh life lesson that spurred her on to leave the confines of provincial life and to make her mark on the much bigger stage of European policy making. Madi Sharma is a gift to the society of women: an inspirational activist who began as a kitchen table entrepreneur and blossomed into a change-maker on a global scale. Read her book, give it to your daughters, lend it to your friends but always have it back. Keep it on your shelf to inspire and refresh your fire when inequality pisses you off. I’m sure she won’t mind a bit if you use it to smash the glass ceiling keeping you and others, down!

Bless you Madi Sharma. 

Penney Poyzer, Co-Managing Director, Nourish Associates

 Pour moi, il y a au moins trois choses importantes dans la vie : La compétence, la fidélité et l’amour. Je connais Madi depuis maintenant assez d’années pour donner mon sentiment sur ce qu’elle est, ce qu’elle fait. Je ne flatte pas non plus, c’est inutile et contre-productif – le français à un mot pour cela : panégyrique. Les louanges quand elles sont impropres donnent un sens péjoratif au panégyrique et desservent celui ou celle que l’on aurait voulu tout simplement décrire. Ma rencontre avec Madi Sharma est fortuite, et même si elle était officielle je tiens à la garder pour moi.  Je confierai juste qu’elle représentait ce jour-là le Président du Comité Economique et Social Européen de l’Epoque - Mario Sepi - dans ce que l’on pourrait appeler une astreinte. Il y avait ce jour-là, autour de la manifestation que j’organisais, des gens très divers : Sioux-Lakotas, Gitans, Corses, Cévenols et des élus locaux. Elle a su s’intégrer de manière efficace dans ce monde hétéroclite et sans manières ostentatoires. Depuis ce jour, il s’est installé une complicité fidèle dans nos échanges sur les cultures autochtones et modestes. Ce sont des milieux très fermés (austères) qui demandent un abord humain et chaleureux. Madi a su les apprivoiser, pardon les intégrer. Et croyez-moi, ce n’est pas rien ! Il faut pour cela avoir une grande humanité que l’on appellera ici « amour ». C’est cela Madi, une femme compétente, fidèle avec un grand cœur. Ce n’est finalement pas si courant, alors à tous ceux qui la connaissent ou voudraient la connaître : préservez-la ! Merci Madi

Dominique Garrel, Pdt de l’Association Un lien et des Ponts pour le Monde

Dearest Madi, (Aunty ji)   

You know all of us at Srivastava Group and New Delhi Times appreciate you and all your work in the promotion of entrepreneurship, human rights and towards empowering others from all nations. Of course we particularly appreciate your support toward India. Having worked with you on education and health projects we understand that having you on board has brought new ways of thinking, especially for the development of women and children. Education and inclusion are our priorities, and it should always be coupled with cultural understanding and religious pluralism. Your views and concerns for others as a first thought reminds us all that we have a responsibility and we must act, not just talk. In that respect your journalism always carries the concerns of those discriminated against or facing injustice.   We look forward to many more years of cooperation and we will be honoured to endorse and promote Madi No Excuses when it comes to India next year. 

Dr. Ankit Srivastava, Vice Chairman, Srivastava Group

What I can say about a person who is an angel for me? Who, although her trauma, is so successful by giving people hope and strength? Who showed me how to live and how to do it for myself, but also for the others?  I remember many moments when I was down and I was thinking….what Madi would say, what she would advise me, what she would do? As you can see, you came to my life and there is no single day without Madi in my mind. It is very difficult to criticize such person. I only can say, that you always have to remember, that people are different. Some of us have strength to crate, to act even when everything seems to be against us. Some of us can’t. Some of us are worried to make a big step to change our lives, but it does not mean we are hopeless or without perspective. And I know, that you know it too! But maybe this is this little point that you always have to remember. Not everybody have the entrepreneurial spirit, can and know how to make it for his/her better life. And please always underline to everybody: your entrepreneurial spirit will be stronger with people around you. People who will help you, but also you have to take care of them.

President Youth Trade Union Congress, Tomasz Jasinski 


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