Zoë Dean-Smith

Vice President, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship

With 36 years of experience in the for-profit, non-profit, corporate and social enterprise sectors, Zoë is responsible for driving the organization’s global approach to Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship, to advance the organization’s mission. She provides vision and leadership for the organization’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship focused programs, including the Global Ambassadors Program, in partnership with Bank of America; the VVGROW fellowship, in partnership with ExxonMobil and FedEx; and the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership.


Between 2007 and 2011, based in Swaziland, Zoë served as Senior Director of Vital Voices’ Global Entrepreneurs in Handcrafts Program. During this time, she also worked with TechnoServe, developing Swaziland’s handcraft sector and with the International Finance Corporation’s Grassroots Business Initiatives across Africa and SE Asia.


In 2011/2012, Zoë project-managed The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s programs across Africa.  Prior to 2007, she was Managing Director of Gone Rural, working with 700+ women artisans in Swaziland and launched Gone Rural BoMake, a community development non-profit organization serving the Gone Rural communities.


Zoë received a 2011 World of Difference Award from The International Alliance of Women and a 2005 Pan African Business-Woman Award for Capacity Building. She has been a featured speaker internationally in her role as a social entrepreneur as well as addressing issues concerning Swaziland such as HIV/AIDS, women’s rights and basic community needs.


Zoë serves on the Boards of the Good Shepherd International Foundation (Italy) and the Grassroots Business Fund (USA) and has served on the Jury of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. In 2008, Zoë initiated a Young Women’s Mentorship Program in Swaziland. She currently serves as a mentor in the Cherie Blair Mentoring Women in Business program and the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program for Young African Leaders.


Outside of the business environment, Zoe is a group fitness instructor and teaches Indoor Cycling classes at a number of Washington Sports Club gyms.


List five things that people could ask you about.

Economic empowerment and social enterprise in countries with emerging economies, waterskiing, the Kingdom of Swaziland, dogs, my crazy career journey.