After six years in the banking/technology industry, Regina Agyare decided to follow her passion and founded her own social start-up called Soronko Solutions, which creates and manages ventures that apply technology to promote social development. Among the projects that Agyare has launched at Soronko include one that introduced deaf girls to technology at the State Deaf School in Ghana – including apps that help promote communication in a society where use of sign language is limited.
Agyare has led Soronko Solutions to develop a number of applications for disabled persons, as well as to promote interest in technology among girls and women.
An architect and a social entrepreneur with a dream to make this world an environment-friendly place, Manisha believes in pioneering change – something that she learnt from her family early on. “My father did a lot of social work, while my mother was the founder of a women’s group,” says this 41-year-old, who imbibed the love for nature from her spiritual teacher.
Luz Restrepo, political refugee from Colombia, helps refugee and asylum seeker women move past language barriers and isolation in their new lives in Australia.
SisterWorks acts as an intermediary, providing refugee and asylum seeker women with support in developing their own micro-businesses. The wares of these businesses are handcrafts, which are crafted at SisterWorks-run sessions, then sold at markets around Victoria. When the “sisters” sell more than a certain benchmark per day, they give 10 per cent to SisterWorks.
Trần Hồng Nhung: "I initially got the idea to work on this paper project back in 2009 after speaking with one of my closest friends from Germany. At first we discussed the possibilities of what we could do with the almost forgotten art of Vietnamese Calligraphy. Together, my friend and I felt a desire to present this beautiful art form to the people of Vietnam and abroad. Along the journey I discovered the amazing qualities of Do paper. Slowly, my dream began to take shape. By the beginning of 2013 the time had come to make my dream a reality. Vietnam is blessed to have many traditional villages making beautiful works of art. Sadly these numbers are beginning to diminish. It is increasingly difficult for these villages to survive under the relentless pressure of industrialisation and technology development. I believe in my heart that the people of Vietnam should embrace our traditions and present it to the world."
This innovator made a kit that frees women in many parts of the world of the threat of infection during childbirth
Having once been one of the “silent victims” with whom she now works: a woman who, as a result of unsanitary birthing conditions and practices, contracted an infection that caused her to suffer for years, Zubaida Bai used her passion and experience in the social development sector to found AYZH, a social enterprise aimed at bringing technology solutions to rural women. Now, after being chosen as a TED India Fellow in 2009, obtaining her MBA, and spending five months in the field investigating birthing hygiene and education, Zubaida has invented an improved version of the clean birth kit. Her kit is produced and distributed by local women and uses attractive packaging to help women understand how and why to use it. Zubaida is currently working to distribute the kit through the country’s system of rural clinics and hospitals. Zubaida’s experiences demonstrate her passion for empowering underserved women and her match with an Ashoka Fellow will enable her to envision a model for widespread social change.
" CASTELLANO was born from a desire to use fashion to reconnect women around the world. To inspire and empower them through unique weaves and patterns made entirely by hand. With this in mind, I have sought some of the most secluded and skilful tribes arround the world - the Wayuu and the Arhuaca. These tribes live in the mountainous areas of Cesar and Magdalena and in the desert state of La Guajira in northern Colombia, and have been sowing and weaving for centuries. I have backpacked under the sun, and found shelter to sleep under the stars, learning from and sharing with these tribes. With their trust and respect my journey has begun. I hope that my journey of self-discovery will also bring you joy as I invite you to open your eyes, your heart and mind to the wonders of these indigenous tribes which are part of our ethnic origins."
Servane Mouazan's insight:
Connect with Daniela Castellanos on twitter: @Castellanoeo
Nikandre Kopcke, is a half-Greek, half-German gender specialist and chef. Nikandre gained her MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation from the LSE’s Gender Institute, and has worked with FoodCycle, social enterprise Rubies in the Rubble, and eco chef Tom Hunt of Forgotten Feast.
She is passionate about the rights of migrants and refugees, and did a stint as a volunteer advocate at the Hackney Migrant Centre.
Mazí Mas is inspired by Maria Maroulis, a Greek woman who lived in the United States for nearly twenty years. An extraordinary cook, her dream was to open her own bakery – but she was prevented from doing so by her husband, who had rigid ideas about what a woman ought and ought not to do. Maria’s warmth, generosity, and stunning food shape the ethos of Mazí Mas, as they do her dinner table. Together, from scratch, with us – "mazí mas".
Mazí Mas is a roaming restaurant that brings exciting, authentic global home cooking to the public, and in so doing creates employment opportunities for aspiring women food entrepreneurs from migrant and refugee communities.
Azza Kamel and her organisation Alwan wa Awtar are working to improve the lives of vulnerable children in Egypt and help them realise their potential.
Alwan wa Awtar aims to target young people in marginalised communities who have little or no access to after-school activities such as performing arts, music and visual art. At the Alwan wa Awtar centre young people are encouraged to explore their creative potential and intellectual abilities in a stimulating non-judgmental environment.
Many of the children supported by Azza and her team have also experienced some form of abuse – physical, psychological or sexual – and so the centre provides them with a safe haven where they can come to terms with some of the things that have happened to them, build their confidence and be surrounded by people they trust and who respect them.
Jayne Hulbert graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2003 with a Diploma in Social Work. Jayne is a qualified Social Worker with over 35 years social care experience in the statutory, voluntary and private sectors, she set up the SWEET Project (Social Work Education, Experience and Training) in March 2010 with colleague and Senior Family Support Worker, Jayne Creswell. Connect with Jayne Hulbert and Jayne Cresswell on http://www.sweetproject.co.uk/
Servane Mouazan's insight:
The concept of the SWEET Project emerged in 2009 after Jayne Hulbert and Jayne Cresswell were made redundant from a national charity as part of a process which culminated in the closure of much-needed family support services for the residents of South Birmingham. Having worked in the area for over 10 years, the two Jaynes decided they would try to re-establish a service for families in need. Between 2009 and 2010, they began to research the possibility of setting up a family support service. Many ideas offered potential. In the early days, the significant obstacles which had to be overcome included the provision of suitable office accommodation and the acquisition of financial and business expertise
Sarah Collins, serial entrepreneur and life-long activist with political interests across gender-equality and environmental sustainability.
The Wonderbag was developed to ease the social, economic and environment impacts of the current global circumstances. The Wonderbag is a non-electric, heat-retention cooker that allows food that has been brought to a boil, to continue cooking after it has been removed from the fuel source.
It’s taken years of passion, energy, and perseverance to get Sarah and the brand where it is today – 650,000 bags distributed, first round of carbon credits registered and issued, production capabilities in Rwanda, Mexico and Turkey with launches in Kenya, Nigeria and Somaliland. 6,000 bags sold in the UK, Europe and USA, with a buy-one-give-one model to support getting Wonderbags into humanitarian relief.
It’s pretty easy. Wonderbag is a simple catalyst for global change. We’re not about Wonderbags being sold, we’re about Wonderbags being used.
A young female social entrepreneur has vowed to bring change to the world - one bamboo bike at a time. The 19-year-old employs about 30 girls to produce bikes in Ghana and has received numerous awards for her work.
More than a decade ago, Ewa Wojkowska remembers driving at night in complete darkness through a remote town in East Timor. Located in one of the poorest districts of that new country, the town had no electricity and there was a total lack of any nocturnal activity. “When night fell, the population of 60,000 had very little to do,” she told me on a recent visit to her office near Ubud. “That was the situation up until about two years ago. It would be pitch black. In the last two years we have distributed more than 6,000 solar lights in that community.” Now after dark you’ll see lights all over the place with people socializing, women weaving, people reading and children doing their homework
Sarah Hashwani, chairperson of Pakistan’s Hashoo Foundation, on creating projects to help the country’s needy stand on their own feet
Thirty-four-year old Sarah Hashwani is the youngest of five siblings born to business tycoon Sadruddin Hashwani. By the time she was born, there was probably not a trace of the humble beginnings her father — now owner of the prestigious Hashoo Group that has interests in tourism, real estate, pharmaceuticals, IT, and oil and gas — had grown up in. But that hasn’t made her any less empathetic towards the less fortunate.
“I’ve always been inclined to philanthropy since I was a young girl,” says the Islamabad-born expat, who chairs the humanitarian wing of her father’s multimillion-dollar empire, the Hashoo Foundation. Mr Hashwani — whose own story, of going from sleeping in the back of trucks in the cold, snake-infested deserts of Baluchistan to now owning a brand of luxury hotels, among other businesses, is highly inspirational — started the foundation in 1988. Sarah only took over in 2007, but she’d, nonetheless, been involved in various projects in the years leading up to the takeover. What she doesn’t like is calling it philanthropy. “It’s just a central part of practising our faith of Islam,” she believes.
Every year 860,000 Kenyan girls miss over a month of school because they don't have sanitary pads during menstruation. Students either fall behind or find unhygienic solutions. ZanaAfrica raises funds to help stock secondary schools with sanitary napkins, and is in the process of developing a business for sustainably-crafted, locally-manufactured pads.
Doris is deeply involved in the disabled transportation because her mom became the wheelchair user in 2007 due to brain cancer. She found the social injustice with serious lack of legal, safe and convenient point-to-point transportation for wheelchair users in Hong Kong.After working hard for years, Doris finally set up Diamond Cab (HK) Limited with the support of SVhk, taxi license owner, nursing home owners and a group of visionary individuals. She is the CEO managing the daily operation of the cab fleet and developing the business to sustain the company with groundbreaking social innovation.
Doris was awarded Young Social Entrepreneur Award 2011,Capital Leaders of Excellence 2011, Finalist (Asia Pacific) of Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2013 and The Purpose Economy Asia 100 respectively. Diamond Cab is the Highly Commended International Social Enterprise of the Year at UK Social Enterprise Awards 2012 and The Fifth of My Favorite Best Five Social Enterprises in 2013.
Servane Mouazan's insight:
Look up Diamond Cab: Barrier-free taxis for wheelchair users.
Ruth Ibegbuna founded RECLAIM to tackle the UK's low rates of social mobility. RECLAIM is building a new strand of working-class youth leadership with the mission of "being seen, being heard and leading change". Ruth activates the latent talents of young people that are most at risk of being excluded from meaningful life opportunities and equips them with the confidence and skills needed to influence politics, the media, and mindsets locally and nation-wide.
Ruth was named Manchester Peace Activist of the Year 2008 and received the Manchester City Council Women's award for Outstanding Contribution 2009. Ruth was also recently awarded the 2011 Business in the Communities Sieff award for collaboration with business to benefit society.
Ruth was a member of the Independent Commission on Youth Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour. The Commission brought forward strategic proposals for sustainable reform of relevant services for children and young people, including the youth justice system. Ruth is also an Ashoka UK Fellow.
Servane met with Karen Lynch, Chief Executive of Belu Water, that sells sustainable mineral water and gives all of its profits to charity via WaterAid. Karen is a spokeperson for the international Social Enterprise competition by Chivas, called @theVenture http://bit.ly/1CV8qvb #wintherightway.
SM Why Water?
Karen Lynch: Because without access to clean water nothing else matters. So we need to solve this issue first. And the water for water model is one that is easy to connect with. An opportunity to help people stop and think, and an opportunity to get the producers in the marketplace to be more responsible.
Leila is a social solutions consultant for the Khalifa Fund, is at the helm of a rapidly expanding social enterprise that aims to revive local heritage and culture through entrepreneurship, in the United Arab Emirates.
Leila Ben-Gacem is the founder of Blue Fish, with branches in Tunis and Abu Dhabi. Blue Fish designs sustainable social impact initiatives in the field of women empowerment, artisan business development, socio-economic inclusion and youth self-employment opportunity creation.
Some of the designed social solutions include:
Dar Ben Gacem a boutique hotel and a social business which generates business opportunities for micro-businesses in the old town of Tunis through tourism sector innovation;
Sougha, a social enterprise owned by Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development. Sougha creates market opportunities for artisan-entrepreneurs all over the UAE, and considerably improved the socio-economic inclusion of women artisans and local heritage revival.
In addition, Blue Fish designs and manages projects which improve artisan business sustainability through, artisan clustering, better heritage branding, communication and international trade opportunity creation in Tunisia.
Leila also designed, fundraised and implemented an initiative aimed at creating self-employment opportunities for youth in opportunity deprived locations in the UAE.
Before switching careers to focus on her passion of unleashing human potentials; Leila held several positions with Hewlett Packard’s Medical products division and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University.
Disease and injustice are no match for a simple mobile phone.
Servane Mouazan's insight:
@ErikaCochi co-leads (and co-founded) UNICEF Innovation, TIME100 most influential, mobiles in emerging markets, epicurean, extreme sports enthusiast.
Building from her own experiences growing up in different countries and comparing her own life to the lives of other children her age who didn’t have the same access to information, opportunities and choice she had, Erica has always wanted to change the situation and help those other children be heard. That’s what got her into technology.
Erica’s journey with technology started in Senegal in 2007, working for UNICEF, when she saw that many people, even in the most rural villages, used mobile phones for two-way communication and realized the value of this little device. Since then, she has worked in technology. UNICEF Innovation has developed systems that uses basic mobile phones and SMS messages to communicate with front-line workers and improve the speed and quality of data collection and health and education services. Since 2007, UNICEF Innovation has worked with partners to develop technologies that have registered 7 million births in Nigeria over 15 months and provided antenatal care to thousands of pregnant women across Rwanda.
Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford and founded a company called Theranos with her tuition money. Now, instead of vials of blood, Theranos requires only a pinprick and a drop of blood. With that they can perform hundreds of tests, from standard cholesterol checks to sophisticated genetic analyses. The results are faster, more accurate, and far cheaper than conventional methods. The implications are mind-blowing.
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