The 2022 WE Empower UN SDG Challenge is in the books, with the top award on ‘’Pitch Night’’ going to a business leader in Nigeria working to make healthcare more accessible to all.
Yetunde Ayo Oyalowo, is the founder of Market Doctors, an organization providing healthcare to over 120,000 people across 12 states in Nigeria in already established food markets. “I realized, everybody comes to the markets — to buy food, to compare prices… So, if I set-up (medical care) in the market, they could just add healthcare to their shopping bags,” Oyalowo explained.
WE Empower is the first-of-its-kind global competition for social entrepreneurs who are advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and inspiring entire communities to act to create the world we want by 2030. Every year, Vital Voices, in partnership with Arizona State University’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory selects five WE Empower awardees for a visit to New York City that includes trainings, conferences, and visits with top government and civil society leaders.
The “Pitch Night’’ hosted at DVF Studios by Vital Voices Board member Diane von Furstenberg is one of the most anticipated and exciting aspects of the WE Empower program. Women present their business models and solutions to companies and potential partners in the room and on a livestream. After delivering their pitches, an panel of expert business leader asked questions to each Awardee about their businesses, and a live vote determines the winner.
Oyalowo will receive a $25,000 grant to further her goals, while each of the other women will receive $5,000 for their organizations. They are:
- Bharti Singh Chauhan – Founder & CEO, Praveenlata Sansthan & Carvers India LLP
- Danielle J. Harris – Managing Director of Engagement & Innovation, Elemental Excelerator
- Dina Abdul Majeed – Founder & CEO, 360Moms
- Priyanka Srinivas – Founder, The Live Green Co.
During the week in New York, Awardees attended the ASU Global Futures Conference, receiving a warm welcome from keynote speaker, Sylvia Earle, the founder of Mission Blue. They also heard from Dawn Lippert, CEO of Elemental Excelerator, and previous WE Empower Awardees including Habiba Ali, Managing Director & CEO of Sosai Renewable Energies and Marta del Rio Villanueva, Founder of Wasi Organics. On the closing day of the Global Futures Conference, the Awardees were able to present their pitches to the hundreds of guests attending the event.
The Awardees also attended the Fast Company Innovation Festival and the Vital Voices G5 dinner, a gathering of multi-sector coalition partners including NGOs, foundations, and corporations, created in 2015 to promote the advancement of gender-related targets of the SDGs.