Unanimously elected on 12 December in Lisbon, Portugal, the businesswoman becomes the first woman to head the Confederation of Enterprises of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CE-CPLP) and the first person from Guinea-Bissau to be appointed to the head of this organisation.
Nelma Fernandes succeeds the Mozambican Salimo Abdula, who led the organisation for about nine years. Prior to her election, she was vice-president of the Executive Committee of the CPLR-EFC, the only woman on that committee; vice-president of the CPLR-EFC Federation of Women Entrepreneurs; representative in Portugal of the CPLR-EFC Federation of Women Entrepreneurs and coordinator of the CPLR-EFC Business Unit.
The Confederação Empresarial da Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa (CE-CPLP), founded in Lisbon on 4 June 2004, is an organisation that aims to promote business development and cooperation in the CPLP area. The mission of the CE-CPLP is to create an investment route within the CPLP member countries, by stimulating cooperation and partnership between Portuguese-speaking institutions. The CPLP Business Confederation is recognised as the economic and commercial pillar of the CPLP.
The organisation comprises 9 countries: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe and East Timor.
Nelma Fernandes was elected after a new vote organised by the EC-CPLP, following the cancellation of the first vote, which was won by Cape Verdean businessman Marcos Rodrigues. The vote was cancelled because, according to the EC-CPLP, five member countries were unable to vote, including Cape Verde, Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe. Hence the need to cancel the election and call a new one.
Entrepreneur fascinated by human behaviour
Nelma Fernandes is the founder and CEO of Win Coach Academy, a company she set up in 2016 that works on human development at all levels, within and outside companies, mainly on the 3 Cs: Competence, Communication and Confidence. “I have a great fascination with the field of human behaviour. I spend time observing and analysing behaviour. In fact, there are two reasons that led me to structure Win Coach. Firstly, the taste for human capital, the certainty that with the right tools it is possible to extract the best from what each of us has to offer, and secondly, the absolute necessity that, more and more, companies and entities suffer from a lack of talent, mainly because it is difficult to look at an employee and analyse his or her profile beyond the obvious,” she explained in an interview with revistabussinesportugal.pt.
Two fundamental aspects for companies
Win Coach, according to its founder, works on two aspects that are crucial for companies: firstly, the growth of the volume of business, based on an in-depth study of the strategies directed to each sector, where the essence of the company is analysed, improving, when necessary, its services so that they have a worthy offer of quality, as well as customer loyalty. “It is no longer enough to sell a certain product or service. To keep our customers coming back, we have to give more and combine the sale with a unique experience”.
Secondly, human resources. “We can turn people into human resources. Only they can give certain answers. They are effectively trained and aligned for this purpose. Empowering an employee means having the tools to extract the best from what they have to offer. The result of this process in organisations is invaluable. It is, without doubt, highly profitable. This is what we do at Win Coach, we create strong and solid roots in companies, so that the tree can bear a lot of good fruit”.
A mix of many places
Nelma Fernandes was born in Guinea-Bissau and arrived in Portugal when she was one and a half years old. “I can’t live without Europe, just as I can’t live without Africa. My roots allow me to thrive on any continent. I am in fact a mixture of several places, as my mother has Cape Verdean roots and my father Angolan”.
Before creating Win Coach Academy, Nelma Fernandes was, among other things, CEO in Lisbon for 9 years for franchised shops of the Italian Group Calzedonia, where she was in charge of the executive management of the 5 shops of the company: Restauradores, Campo Pequeno, Colombo, Amoreiras and Dolce Vita Tejo. These shops were the most successful at national level and won numerous awards in Portugal and Italy. For 8 years she was also a project manager at Banco Santander Totta, a subsidiary of Banco Santander, the largest private bank in Portugal.
From 2015 to 2017, Nelma Fernandes was also CEO of the Italian cosmetics brand Wycon Cosmetics, in Portugal. “I have a natural tendency to develop businesses. I started with a multi-brand retail shop and, a few years later, I had a chain of franchise shops for an Italian lingerie brand. I have also worked in other areas than retail, such as restaurants, buying and selling real estate or hotels. What all projects have in common is delivery, passion and hard work. This is the only way we can grow and prosper”.
Coaching in different aspects
A graduate in Architecture and Financial Management, with 9 years of experience in the banking sector and asset management, she also holds a postgraduate degree in Leadership and Career Development for Businesswomen and an Executive Master in Management, both from the Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics. She also holds a postgraduate degree in Non-Verbal Language and has 10 years of experience in multinational franchise management, with a chain of Intimissimi shops since 2007.
Nelma Fernandes is certified by the ICC – International Coaching Community, as a Certified International Coach and as an ICC Master Trainer in Coaching for some African countries. She is an Executive Coach, Life Coach, Team Coach and Trainer specialising in various aspects of coaching in large companies, with a strong operational component in coaching work with teams and leaders for behavioural change and the establishment of a coaching culture.
Organisational Constellation Methodology
Nelma Fernandes is certified in the Organisational Constellation Methodology by the International Talent Manager and also as a certified DiSC trainer (Behavioural Profile Assessment). She is also qualified in Somatic Experiencing, a revolutionary neuroscience-based approach to help overcome and heal symptoms of PTSD, chronic stress and other trauma-related symptoms.
In addition, Nelma Fernandes is a graduate in Body Language and Bodynamic International (a system of somatic analysis and psychology, a pioneering method in psychomotor and cognitive development, with a special focus on the quality of relationships), based on psychotherapy and somatic analysis that studies, among other things, character structures, communication patterns and boundary formation.
All these tools combined with Coaching, it is said, allow Nelma Fernandes to develop an excellent teamwork dynamic within and outside companies. The entrepreneur believes that one of the greatest resources of a company is undoubtedly its human capital. For this reason, investing in the best version of each individual translates into a huge result for organisations.
Nelma Fernandes is a regular keynote speaker at several conferences on coaching and inspirational leadership. She is also the author of the blog “And What Else”.