Sitawa Wafula is a 31-year old mental health activist, philanthropist and entrepreneur from Nairobi, Kenya. As a result of a traumatic experience at the age of 18, Wafula suffered from severe depression which resulted in a dual diagnosis of epilepsy and bipolar disorder. With no support system, rising medical bills and little access to information, Wafula faced stigma due to her condition. Out of this experience, she decided to provide a forum for Africans going through the same experiences, to not only access information about mental health issues, but also to find support. She launched her self-titled blog as well as her mental health social enterprise; My Mind, My Funk which ran Kenya’s first free mental health support line and provided support to over 11,000 Kenyans struggling with mental health issues. She has been named as a Non Communicable Disease Champion by the Kenyan Ministry of Health, recognized among the top 40 under 40 women in Kenya and has had her work featured in various media publications including BBC and Al Jazeera.
The founder and CEO says that the core motivation behind her startup, which connects street sellers with consumers, was to try and meet the challenge of creating a stable consumer base for those forced to turn to touristic, traffic-heavy streets to sell their wares in cities around the world that are rife with economic challenges."
Instead of creating another charity company or e-commerce website with static images of products that are only bought during [the] holidays,” Christine Souffrant was keen on thinking differently when creating her social enterprise, Vendedy.
Vendedy’s sellers, street vendors targeting tourists who seek locally-made, authentic products in street markets, are a segment isolated from the digital space. With Vendedy’s app, street vendors can upload photos of their wares online, giving them exposure to consumers who can bid on the products. Vendedy’s kiosk shipping networks give consumers access to artisan designs from over 150 countries on its database, and once an order has been delivered, sellers are able to receive their payments via SMS.
Michelle Wright, ceo of Cause 4, explains how she came up with her idea to disrupt a sector that was in dire need of change after the global recession hit in 2008.
Having trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, it was time spent as development director at the London Symphony Orchestra that provided Wright with insight into what was wrong with the world of fundraising.
It was the time of the epic Lehman Brothers collapse, and Wright believed the charity and social enterprise sector needed to get with the times or face serious difficulties.
“The environment for fundraising and income generation for charities was getting tougher,” Wright remembered. “Also, what charities need is the same entrepreneurial mindset that most businesses are looking for – and in my areas we were struggling to see people come through with those skills.”
The result was Cause4 – a social enterprise designed to support charities, social enterprises and philanthropists in development and fundraising. Now six years-old, the company was one of the Real Business Everline Future 50 companies back in March and has proved highly adept at helping charities grow.
Early last year, Apenyo quit a well-paying job as a copywriter in one of the advertising firms in Kampala to open up a women-only gym 'FITCLIQUE AFRICA" with an aim of seeing women stronger and healthier. The gym is the first of its kind in Uganda. In one of her previousblogs, she posts, “I’m sick of hearing things like: all women go crazy for chocolate, a Ugandan chick won’t date you unless your wallet is larger than her behind, women will date the first person who shows them attention, not because I can prove them wrong but because it’s terrible to judge all women by some narrow standard you got from dating all of three. Femininity cannot be narrowed down to diamonds or shoes or wallets or the color pink.”
Samantha Morshed's interest in social enterprise started in 2004 with a basic question ‘how do you create sustainable employment without micro-finance debt or economic migration for rural women?’. To solve that question Samantha founded Hathay Bunano (now Pebble Child) with a personal initial investment of $500. A decade later Hathay Bunano has evolved into a thriving social enterprise, comprising a non-profit organization in Bangladesh and three limited companies in Bangladesh, UK and Malaysia, with employment creation for more than 6000 artisans in more than 60 rural production centers throughout Bangladesh and export of handmade toys around the world.
Jo Caley, a Make a Wave Incubator fellow, runs highstreetfitfinder.com, a website that helps women to buy the right size clothes first time. You can connect with Jo and High Street Fit Finder on Twitter: @highstfitfinder @wiseonsize
Hi Jo, what are you doing differently?
Jo: As well as helping women to buy clothes that fit, quickly and easily, we want to help women to stop defining their self-worth by being, or wanting to be, a certain size, and to be happy in their own skin.
We aim to do this by making “size” irrelevant; it should be just a number that is used to purchase something, and by only allowing additional advertising on the website that is body positive, body diverse and not airbrushed, women can shop without comparison to unrealistic body ideals.
Born in Glasgow, raised in Pakistan and living in London, Hera knew from early on she wanted to empower women. During her MA in Economics & Psychology at University of Glasgow, she found herself drawn to tech start-ups and the ways technology can be utilised to solve social issues. Starting out as a freelance marketing and events consultant for start-ups, she moved on to social entrepreneurship through her involvement with OxfordJam and MakeSense, where she cemented her status as a community leader in London's start-up scene. It was after she helped two friends escape abusive homes, support the legal process of divorce and help them start a new life that she decided to use her skills and knowledge to found the award-winning Chayn - a global network of skilled volunteers who work pro-bono to empower women in suppressed situations. Hera has spoken at various conferences and been interviewed numerous times in the press (e.g. Dawn News, De Mundo, The Diplomat) on the issues of abuse. She is also a keen member of the Wikipedia movement, most notably as one of the key organisers of Wikimania 2014 - the largest and most successful conference yet of the movement. She is continually involved with not-for-profits such as MakeSense, Startingbloc, WEF's Global Shaper and Yunus&Youth - all networks of social entrepreneurs - as well as Creative Commons and Open Corporates.
Good and Cheap is a free PDF cookbook for people with very limited incomes, particularly those using food stamps. It has been downloaded more than 500,000 times. Brown, a native of Canada, is a food scholar and avid home cook who now lives in New York. Prior to writing Good and Cheap, Brown authored another cookbook, From Scratch.
Miss Macaroon C.I.C. was started by Rosie Ginday to combine her passion for beautiful hand-crafted food, baking, and her desire to help disadvantaged young. Rosie is a Michelin star trained Pastry Chef, training young ex-offenders to be the Chefs of tomorrow.
Connect with Rosie on @iammissmacaroon and missmacaroon.co.uk
Nathalie Richards (MBA) is CEO of EduKit, an online platform that connects schools with programmes that help to raise student attainment and that measures how students are performing whilst on programmes, allowing instant reporting for school stakeholders and inspectors. Nathalie is a former trustee of youth support charity Generating Genius and former governor at Beckmead Family of schools in Croydon.
EduKit is a partner of Project Oracle (the Youth Evidence hub) and a recent recipient of a prestigious Department of Education award for Innovation. As EduKit has already registered over 500 London-based service providers, Nathalie is able to provide a unique insight of the breadth and impact of youth interventions and programmes available across the capital
Chipsafer is a platform that will transform the way farmers care for their livestock. It not only tracks and detects anomalies in cattle behaviour, but does so remotely, autonomously and in real time. Chipsafer then sends all this information directly to the farmer, who can access it on a laptop or phone. This is of vital importance in poorer communities, as livestock are a key source of income. Through ChipSafer technology farmers can not only learn where their animals are and receive warnings if an anomaly is detected, but obtain stats about the animals’ performance, helping them to improve herd production and in turn their profits. ChipSafer also sends out a warning message if the animal passes a specified perimeter or if the device is taken off, in order to prevent the cattle from being stolen.
To make the city's roads safer for women and children, a few social ventures are training women from different backgrounds to take the wheels of taxis and school buses.
The women's wing at industry body Ficci is launching an initiative to bring more women into non-teaching jobs in schools, including as bus drivers, in Bengaluru and other large cities. Maruti Suzuki has committed to train 1,500 women as drivers across 15 chapters of Ficci Ladies Organization, or FLO, for free. The candidates need to have finished high school and be between ages 18 and 35.
Talks are going on with private and public schools in the city to hire more women for new staff," said Rati Dhandhania Mundrey , chairperson of FLO Beng alur u chapter."Depending on the number of schools that will come on board, the number of women who will be trained can be determined."
The women will be ready for employment in six months.
In addition to being a push for women empowerment, such initiatives are becoming crucial in cities where crimes are increasing against women and children, even in schools. Bengaluru is considered relatively safer than cities like Delhi, but instances of abuse are becoming more prevalent here too. In another initiative, women from across Karnataka are being trained to drive taxis by R2R Ventures, a forprofit social enterprise. The taxi venture, known as Womencabs and launched in April, works with a few companies through the week to transport women employees. On weekends, it caters to the public, but only women
Ayesha is the founder and director of Fashion ComPassion, an online fashion retail site set up as an ethical business whose aim is to create positive change through fashion by bringing socially responsible brands to a global audience. Ayesha now partners with 15 such brands.
It all started when at 16 Ayesha flew to Bangladesh, to work for the Grameen Foundation, a cause she was very passionate about. She started interning for the Grameen Check, a project to revive the handloom industry of Bangladesh, a skill that was under threat because of mass production.
While working to develop new patterns that would be marketable to international markets, Ayesha’s fascination grew as she watched the previously disheartened weavers gain confidence, become entrepreneurs and take life into their own hands.
She went on to complete her undergraduate degree in Economics and Politics from Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts U.S.A and her Masters in Mass Media and Communications from City University, London.
Social enterprise takes the shame out of periods. Period. It is often the case that women in the developing world do not have access to sanitary products. Manjit Gill, a British Indian woman, wants to change that. Manjit has mentored in Nairobi with the Cherie Blair Foundation in 2013, which led her to look at her own life experiences and transform the way we think about a woman’s monthly cycle. In 2015, Manjit founded a social enterprise called ‘Binti’. It acts as a platform for transforming attitudes and the lives of women and girls in India and Africa. Binti’s approach is unique. It spreads its message through the power of social media. Rupi Kaur’s ‘Period Stain’ Instagram photo and Kiran Gandhi’s free-flow bleeding marathon exposed the taboos around menstruation in western society, beyond the Indian community from which Manjit comes. Growing up, Manjit’s experiences are probably all too familiar for British Asian women. The experiences she documented included: sanitary products and underwear being kept hidden, restrictions around food during menstruation and attending religious functions. [Click on photo to read more... ]
"Jolina Auguste is our Workshop Supervisor and the very first employee hired by REBUILD globally." "I never imagined I would be making and designing sandals as I had no knowledge of shoemaking. It never even crossed my mind. That's why I always say, "You never know what can happen in life." Sometimes we don't understand life, but I think we're not necessarily supposed to. Look at me today: I am a manager in a sandal-making workshop. This is a great source of pride for me. Through my employment, I haven't just learned how to make sandals -- I've had a lot of other incredible experiences at Deux Mains. Many things I didn't understand before, I've come to understand. For example, before I really did not understand business, but because Deux Mains sent me to a business course, I know how to run a small business, and how to be a good manager. I even started my own business and employ three women making peanut butter!"
Servane Mouazan's insight:
Deux Mains is an employee-owned and operated footwear company in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The organisation were born from the disaster of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, but survived in her wake by learning the art of shoemaking, determined to rebuild their lives. With the help of their nonprofit partner, REBUILD globally, Deux Mains are part of a social business ecosystem committed to building financial security for the most vulnerable in Haiti; while also committed to creating a modern sandal brand that is always authentic, slightly eccentric and proudly unique.
REBUILD globally is a 501c3 organization that provided start-up capital and continues to provide training, leadership development and international sales support to serve as a pathway to profitability and development in Haiti.
Connect with @DeuxMainsDesign and @REBUILDglobally
The beautiful flower embroidery of the Matyo folk is a living traditional art form in the ‘Matyo villages’ such as Mezokovesd, Tard and Szentistvan in the Northern part of Hungary – close to Eger. This very Matyo design sees a never seen revival nowadays, whereby trendsetters and fashionistas can be spotted worldwide wearing blouses decorated with the typical Matyo-embroidery or some of its alterations. Matyodesign is the brainchild of the Vaczi sisters, Borbala and Rozi, who broke with the souvenir-image of this folk art and successfully applied Matyo embroidery technique on everyday accessories and clothing.
The founders of the brand, Borbala and Rozi, spent their summer vacations in their childhood in one of the Matyo villages, Tard, where their grandparents lived. This region is considered very traditional, where the embroidery techniques and the secrets of this special craft are passed down from generations to generations. The original embroidery itself is very bold and colorful. The rose and a folk art bird are considered the iconic Matyo designs.
The Vaczi sisters have taken these wonderful Matyo designs and applied them on T-shirts, baseball caps, beauty-cases, jackets, Converse shoes and the list just goes on – for men, women and even for children. As the story goes, Rozi’s husband, a famous Hungarian actor, once wore a T-shirt decorated with Matyodesign‘s embroidery, when he gave an interview. And since then demand for this traditional Hungarian design on everyday clothing has been growing tremendously.
Meet Laura Willoughby from Club Soda, who helps people change their drinking whether they want to cut down, stop for a bit, quit or stick. Laura is a fellow of the Ogunte Make a Wave Incubator for Women Social Entrepreneurs.
Follow Club Soda on Twitter @joinclubsoda
Ogunte: What is it that you are doing differently?
Laura: We are using technology to help people take a self-guided journey to change a specific habit. We use recognised behaviour change techniques to create a club that brings everything you need in one place, from technology to track your goals through to real-world gatherings. After all we get drunk together so... why should we get sober alone?
So tell us how do you manage to successfully run your venture?
Extreme boot strapping has forced us to experiment and not waste cash. It means we have had to learn before we build, which is a good thing.Collaborating with others, a lot of people who have supported what we have done are doing it for free (or very little). They are keen to help us experiment and we pay that back in kind too. So do ask!People come and go. Start-ups are hard work so don't take it personally.Don't spend lots of money on tech - we used off the shelf tools for our first MVP. We know it's terrible but people don't see those same flaws. And now we have the cash to build some more.Always have a spare phone charger - you can do a lot on the move.
Click on the picture to read the full interview... Follow Laura's blog on Club Soda and @joinclubsoda
Ila Asplund is the founder and CEO of Half Sky Journeys, building a global network of changemakers who travel with a purpose: to boost the impact of women-empowering programs worldwide.
What’s different about Half Sky Journeys?
Ila: “When I was three, my mom had a stroke that left her unable to form words, like a circuit severed from her brain to her mouth. After recovering (she is alive and well!), she told me that losing her voice—her ability to communicate—was more devastating than having half her body paralyzed. When I was older, a study abroad to Indonesia sparked my wanderlust, and since then I’ve always jumped at any cross-cultural opportunity. From ‘getting by’ where I don’t speak the language, to becoming an English teacher for people hungry to learn—it’s really through travel I’ve learned again how important our voices are.
Meika Hollender is an MBA graduate of NYU Stern School of Business who used her skills to launch a new brand of sexual health products called Sustain with her father. These include Fair Trade condoms free of toxic chemicals. Meika tells who is her ideal professor... "Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. On top of being a female business leader in a male-dominated world, she also runs an organisation that addresses issues that people in the country don’t want to talk about. Even among backlash and criticism, she is incredibly strong and brave, not letting anyone impede her mission. She really is a huge inspiration"
Carney co-founded Gardens for Health, a program in Rwanda that integrates agricultural support with comprehensive health education to fight malnutrition. To date, the organization has worked with over 1,700 families through a Health Center Program, helping to ensure that approximately 8,500 children have the healthy food they need to grow and thrive. Carney is an Echoing Green and Ashoka Fellow.
Follow Julie Carney @_juliecarney and Gardens for Health @Gardens4Health
There’s a dirty little secret behind washing your clothes. " Melissa Power has created For the Love of Laundry, an organization that helps low-income and homeless people meet the basic need of clean clothes through free laundry events
Katharine Hibbert, founder and director, is excited about getting empty homes into use to support communities and volunteers. She has been working on the issue of Britain’s wasted homes for the past 8 years – first as a journalist, campaigner and consultant, and now through Dot Dot Dot. She has been a volunteer all of her adult life, currently as a writer for The Pavement, a magazine for homeless people, and as a trustee of Headway East London, a charity that supports people affected by brain injury.
Servane Mouazan's insight:
Connect to Katherine on twitter @kathhibbert and @3dotproperty
Emanuela Vartolomei has 10 years experience in financial services through which she gained insights into how alternative finance, especially crowdfunding, can help social enterprises to gain access to funding. Emanuela’s personal beliefs are anchored in democratic finance, fair and affordable service for all, decentralised systems and strong ethical values.
All Street provide online independent research reports for private and institutional investors with a focus on impact investments.
Doris Leung was working as a broadcast journalist in her native Hong Kong when her mother, suffering from brain cancer, began to experience mobility problems. By mid-2007, Doris’ mother was wheelchair bound. ‘As the main caregiver, I experienced the frustration of trying to take her wheelchair to frequent doctor visits.’ When she could not drive her mother, the only option was a taxi, but while some wheelchair-accessible cabs did exist, many were illegally operated without insurance. Doris talked to a group of friends working with Social Ventures Hong Kong, an organisation that invests in social enterprise. ‘They told me they were looking at improving transportation for wheelchair users and I offered to do the research.’ Before Doris knew it, she was leaving her job and setting up Diamond Cab. With funds from Social Ventures – where Doris is now an executive director – and investment of her own, Doris imported five Welcab taxi vans from Japan. Each costs US$51,500, a large outlay for a small social enterprise, and can transport two wheelchairs.
Lamice is an award-winning entrepreneur whose passion and energies have seen her many child-centred businesses thrive for nearly two decades. Her Lebanon-based ventures are all about educating, entertaining and caring for children.
Lamice’s beginnings in entrepreneurship began when she was looking for a suitable nursery for her first born. When she couldn’t find one she and her mother opened Dent De Lait (Milk Teeth) nursery in 1997. Three other companies followed: In 2001 Lamice launched Mazitou, a production house created to encourage young Lebanese talent. They were the producers of Disney’s High School Musical on stage in 2008.
In 2009 she launched Frizzy, described as an edutainment centre for Tweens and Teens, aiming to celebrate and educate all parts of the brain. And a year ago Lamice added My Doll & Me to her portfolio of businesses, a doll retail concept for young girls.
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