Women are a force for driving economic, political and social change.
The Global Ambassadors Program, a Vital Voices and Bank of America partnership, is designed to provide mentorship opportunities for emerging women leaders. This effort builds on Vital Voices’ 25 years of global experience in training and mentoring women who practice transformative leadership to advance economic development and entrepreneurship, human rights and political participation in their communities.
In 2012, Vital Voices and Bank of America developed this signature partnership to accelerate women’s leadership and economic empowerment throughout the world. Our work is rooted in a shared history of investing in leadership development, guided by a belief that strong women leaders are vital to healthy, vibrant communities and core to creating economic growth.
The Global Ambassadors Program connects women leaders (mentees) — at a tipping point in their professional, business and leadership paths — with established women executives (Global Ambassadors or mentors) for mentorship.
We take an innovative, immersive approach to mentoring in regions around the world; offering in-person exchanges, business acumen and skills training, networking and personal development workshops.
Applications to the Global Ambassadors Program are now closed.
2023 Fellow, Founder/CEO, MitiMeth
Achenyo Idachaba-Obaro is the Founder of MitiMeth, an award-winning Artisan Social Enterprise building livelihoods through the transformation of invasive aquatic weeds and agricultural residues. MitiMeth makes eco-friendly home décor and lifestyle products and has trained over 700 women from communities across Nigeria and Ghana.
Before founding MitiMeth, Achenyo worked for ExxonMobil. She has a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Economics and an M.S. in Applied Computer Science. She also holds an M.B.A and sits on the Board of several organizations.
Achenyo is listed amongst the 2023 Leading Ladies Africa’s 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria. She is a 2023 MIT Legatum Foundry Fellow, one of YNaija and Leading Ladies Africa’s 2017 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria, a 2017 Vital Voices VV Lead Fellow, a 2015 Tony Elumelu Foundation Fellow, a 2014 Cartier Women’s Initiative Fellow and a 2013 YouWIN Awardee. She has been featured on BBC, Deutsche Welle TV, CNN’s African Start-Up, and Google Africa’s International Women’s Day Campaign. Achenyo has presented at TEDWomen and her talk has over 1.8 million views. Her work at MitiMeth was featured in a 2018 UN Environment Program publication on “Exploring the Potential for Adopting Alternative Materials to Reduce Marine Plastic Litter.”
2023 Fellow, Founder/Creative Director, PLANET 3R
Adejoke Lasisi is an African fabric designer and environmentalist based in Nigeria. She is the founder of Planet 3R and Jokelinks Weaving School. Planet 3R is a social enterprise dedicated to converting textile and plastic wastes into eco-friendly products using the 3R strategy (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) to save planet Earth by weaving them into innovative items.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife. She also holds a certificate in Entrepreneurial Management from EDC Lagos, Nigeria. In the span of three years, her organization has collected 948,352 kg of recyclable waste from the street, trained 362 youth and women, and educated over 10,000 students across various secondary schools in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. Her aspirations are diverse, but her utmost goal is to preserve Nigeria’s cultural heritage and impart knowledge of handwoven fabrics to youths and women through entrepreneurial skill acquisition programs in Nigeria.
Adejoke has won several awards for her weaving skills and positive impact. Her work and her journey have been featured on Aljazeera, BBC, Channels TV, The Nigerian Tribune, The Punch, Nigerian Television Authority, TVC News, The Nation Newspaper, and other popular sources.
2023 Fellow, CEO, Arise Kollections
Arise Kollections LTD, formerly Sseko Uganda, is a youth-led Ugandan organization that is transforming lives through the creation of high-quality leather and textile products. Arise Kollections has a mission to empower Ugandan women through employment and educational opportunities. To date, more than 200 women have gained employment through the company and developed skills to create opportunities for themselves and their communities.
At the heart of the organization is Agnes Netunze Kitumba, the founder and CEO of Arise Kollections. Agnes, affectionately known as Aggie, has been instrumental in driving the organization’s success and running a transformative gap year program for Ugandan youth. The 10-month program equips young people with life skills and career guidance as they wait for their high school results to enroll in university. Aggie’s leadership and commitment align perfectly with Arise’s mission, making a significant impact on the lives of Ugandan women and youth.
For her contribution to empowering women from her community, Aggie was invited to the Global Leadership Summit 2019 in Chicago, USA. Aggie was also featured as the African-Modern day woman during the US-Africa Leaders Summit Spousal Program in 2014 in Washington DC, USA.
2023 Fellow, Founder/Executive Director, The Starving Artist
Ally Zlatar is an artist, scholar, and activist. She is the founder of The Starving Artist; an artist initiative that utilizes creative voices to create advocacy and systemic reform. She also founded The Starving Artist Scholarship Fund which helps people access inpatient treatment for eating disorders. Her “This Body of Mine” campaign explores migrant experiences through creative voices and has helped support individuals and artists from refugee-seeking backgrounds globally.
Ally holds a BFA in Visual Art and Art History from Queen’s University and an MLitt in Curatorial Practice and Contemporary Art from the Glasgow School of Art. She holds a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Southern Queensland focusing on embodied experiences of eating disorders in contemporary art. Ally is a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow, Anderson College and has taught at KICL London, and the University of Essex (UEIC).
Ally has received the highest accolade a young person can achieve for their humanitarian work; winner of The Princess Diana Legacy Award 2021, King Hamad Award for Youth Empowerment 2022, Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Award from Ontario Government of Canada 2023, and special recognition from The British Citizen Award 2022.
2023 Fellow, Founder/Procurator, KAUR
Amra Coric is an information systems engineer and works as a programmer. She has been practicing yoga for years and is a Kundalini yoga teacher. Kundalini yoga involves breathwork, singing, chanting, and repetitive poses.
Amra’s love of yoga led her to start the clothing brand KAUR with her best friend Ada. KAUR is a clothing brand inspired by yogic lifestyles and for women in need of sustainable, inspiring, long-lasting clothes.
Amra is a creative person, eager for knowledge and new experiences. She has a passion for creating new concepts, repackaging existing ideas into something new, and transforming everything around her.
2023 Fellow, Co-Founder/Managing and Creative Director
ANTHILL Fabric Gallery is a social and cultural enterprise with a mission to support sustainable livelihood through elevating Filipino weaving in circular and contemporary design. ANTHILL builds the capacity of its partner communities by providing market access and transferring business skills so they can become successful and self-reliant enterprises. Anya Lim, ANTHILL’s founder, is passionate about women’s economic empowerment, particularly entrepreneurship in the weaving community and handcraft traditions.
Anya received her master’s in communications for social change from the University of Queensland, Australia. She was in the 2011 class of Asia Society Young Leaders, a 2016 Young Entrepreneur of Cebu Awardee by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce, 2017 Swedish Institute Management Fellow, 2018 Young Mansmith Marketers Awardee, GSBI-Miller Center Social Enterprise Fellow and Impact Management Fellow and Angels of Impact ASEAN Wise Fellow. She is also the recipient of the 2021 In Life Young Shero Circle of Excellence Award and the 2023 Ramon V Del Rosario Siklab Awards for impact entrepreneurship.
Arushi Chowdhury Khanna
2023 Fellow, Founder, LoomKatha
LoomKatha connects rural artisans and handloom weavers to the global market. The company’s focus is on discovering crafts that are on the verge of extinction, nurturing them back to life through product development programs, and marketing these products globally. LoomKatha’s model has succeeded in doubling artisan incomes from $70 to $150 a month within 2 years.
Founder Arushi Chowdhury Khanna has been involved in building sustainable crafts-based enterprises for the last 14 years. She has worked across the NGO, private sector, and government channels. As head of the Craftmark Program at the AIACA, she led the revival of the Mubarakpuri weaving craft. She is also a natural dyeing expert and her developments for Adiv Pvt Ltd have been used by brands like Eileen Fisher and Dosa. She also serves as a consultant with Threads of Hope Cairo, a social enterprise providing livelihoods to refugee women on natural dyes.
Arushi is the winner of the Foundation Chanel Woman Social Entrepreneur Award at WE Deliver Vancouver 2019 and the WICCI National Handloom Council Award for Entrepreneurship in 2021. LoomKatha is a member of the Aspen Institute’s global Artisan Alliance and an incubate of Niti Aayog’s Atal Incubation Cell (Government of India).
2023 Fellow, Founder, Beenybud
Ashley Rousseau is the head of Beenybud, which was first established by her mother in 1972 in Ashley’s birthplace of Gordon Town, Jamaica. Beenybud partners with artisans and community groups around the island to produce a wide range of personal and home items made from locally sourced and sustainable natural fibers. These products are handmade by primarily rural women who specialize in traditional weaving methods and integrate a modern design approach to create innovative handbags, gifts, home décor, and fiber art.
Ashley holds a bachelor’s in English from Boston University, a post-graduate Diploma in Education from the University of the West Indies, and studied Creative Writing in the Lesley University MFA program. Before re-starting Beenybud in 2018, she worked in the fields of publishing, marketing, and education in Jamaica. She sits on the boards of two local schools and a Catholic charity run by the Sisters of Mercy in the inner city of Kingston.
Ashley is the co-author with Olympian Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of the children’s book, I Am a Promise, and her short stories have been published in Calabash: A Journal of Caribbean Arts & Letters and Small Axe.
2023 Fellow, Executive Director, BraveWorks
Beth Bell is the Executive Director of BraveWorks, a 501c3 nonprofit based in Charlotte, North Carolina with a mission to empower women overcoming trauma and injustice, bridging the gap from pain to purpose through artisan enterprise and personal transformation.
Previously, Beth served as National Charity Director for BeautyKind, an online platform designed to bring commerce and conscience together. Beth’s experience includes over 10 years as a designer before moving into human services. Beth graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in Fine Arts and Business and is passionate about utilizing design to bring lasting change to underserved populations.
Beth is mission-minded with an extensive portfolio of community engagement and has been recognized for her leadership work through board engagement and effective change management. Beth was named to Charlotte’s “40 Over 40” leaders by the Charlotte Ledger in 2020 and has served on the Board of Directors for Charlotte Family Housing (2017-2022). Beth chaired the Board of The Harvest Center of Charlotte (2010 – 2012) and continues to serve as an advisor. Beth also served on the Executive Leadership Council for the American Cancer Society (2018-2021) and currently serves as Vice Chair of the Mission Charlotte Advisory Board.
2023 Fellow, Founder/Executive Director, Mauna Dhwani Foundation
Bindu Vinodhan is the founder of the Mauna Dhwani Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to enable women from the tribal villages of Odisha, India, to emerge from silence- ‘mauna’ to the reverberating awakened voices of ‘dhwani’, through dignified sustainable livelihoods by reviving indigenous craft fostered in a community ecosystem of camaraderie, courage, and care.
Bindu worked in the corporate sector for 22 years where she led HR, organizational effectiveness, and DEI teams at organizations such as Vodafone, Hewlett Packard, Bank of America, and WNS.
Bindu is also the founder of a leadership transformation consulting firm called TILLT where she works extensively with senior leadership teams to facilitate powerful interventions that allow individuals, leaders, and businesses to grow to their highest potential. Her core areas of consultation are leadership visioning, business storytelling, and women’s leadership transformation.
Bindu holds a master’s degree in learning technology from Oxford University. She is also certified in business storytelling and presence from Cranfield University and in negotiation from Harvard University. Bindu currently sits on the board of Sigachi Industries (a listed global pharma company) as an independent director and is also on the advisory council of a social enterprise.
Caroline Ng’ang’a Omondi
2023 Fellow, Founder/CEO, Crafts With Meaning
Caroline Ng’ang’a Omondi is an award-winning social entrepreneur with a strong interest in the economic empowerment of underserved communities, especially women. She is the founder of Crafts with Meaning, a social enterprise that creates opportunities for underserved artisans in Kenya and Uganda. She has previously served as a director of a state agency in Kenya and is currently a board member of Eco Tourism Kenya, a membership organization dedicated to sustainable tourism.
Caroline is a Certified Public Accountant of Kenya, holds a master’s degree in business administration from the United States International University-Africa and a bachelor’s degree in statistics from the University of Nairobi.
Caroline was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 women in Kenya in 2018 and is a recipient of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship from the Africa Leadership Institute and the University of Oxford.
2023 Fellow, Founder/Designer, CDK
Chandrika Tamang is a self-taught sustainable fashion designer and a social entrepreneur who is determined to empower home-based women, especially single mothers. Her company, CDK, preserves and promotes the art of weaving through circular design and economic value. She runs CDK with a strong belief that “less is more.”
With learning and experimenting, the brand is a reflection of herself. She likes to focus more on a sense of ease and a slower, thoughtful way of life. Her business model incorporates zero-waste designs, hand-stitched details, and using recycled materials to create accessories. CDK creates simple, functional, meaningful clothing and home textiles, which have vast social and cultural impact.
After resigning from her bank job as an IT Officer, she started designing as a hobby in 2016. In 2017 Chandrika won the Women Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Ministry of Trade in Bhutan. In 2019, she was sponsored for a short course in entrepreneurship at Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
2023 Fellow, Founder, The Skilled Woman Initiative
Chisom Nwankwo is the founder of The Skilled Woman Initiative (TSWINI) a non-governmental organization that provides technical skills, vocational training, and job opportunities for refugees and displaced women in Nigeria.
Chisom served as a technology and innovation policymaker with The Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation for 10 years. During her time at the Ministry, Chisom managed diverse international and national projects before voluntarily retiring in January 2023 to pursue entrepreneurship. She now leads her NGO and other businesses including The TSWINI company, a Nigerian e-mobility company, and CiiE Luxuries, an eco-luxe fashion accessory design brand.
Chisom is a 2021 Mandela Washington Fellow, a member of the African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC), and a recipient of the African Leading Women Conference Award 2021 as part of the 100 Most Distinguished Women in Africa class of 2021.
2023 Fellow, CEO, Adirelounge
Cynthia Asije is a multi-award-winning textile designer and Creative Director of The Adirelounge, a hand-dyed textile company that creates unique designs on non-conventional fabrics like chiffon, t-shirts, scarves, and silk. The organization also trains rural women, widows, and vulnerable and out-of-school youth in Adire textile skills.
She holds a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Benin. Following this, she worked in a financial institution for two years. Cynthia also has a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from the prestigious Fate Foundation and Enterprise Development Center in Lagos. In 2016 she was part of the Heineken Lagos Fashion and Design Week Campaign “Connecting the Dots”. She has also won awards like the ACE Award for “The Best Indigenous Textile Designer” and Fashion Finest Indigenous Fabric Maker of the Year 2018.
She was recognized on the 2018 Ynaija Power List for Fashion and Style and 100 Africa’s Next Start-Up by the International Finance Corporation-World Bank Group. She was part of the Diamond Bank BET 6 Building Entrepreneurs. She is also an AYADA LAB Fellow and a 2019 Tony Elumelu Foundation Fellow. She is a La French Tech Founder Awardee, 2021 AWIEF Creative Industry Award, and 2023 Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise in Europe Awardee.
2023 Fellow, Founder/CEO, Appcycled
Diletta Pollice created Appcycled to accelerate the transition to a more circular economy within the design and fashion sector. Diletta’s business is the first Italian upcycled fashion marketplace. Appcycled is investing in designers who use upcycling techniques. It is a digital platform that connects consumers with upcycle designers to buy their unique, inimitable, and sustainable garments.
Diletta studied business in Barcelona and has worked within the fashion industry in marketing. Appcycled received third in the Mastercard’s Women & Sustainability Competition.
Dorothy Nakato Mubezi
2023 Fellow, Executive Director, Uganda National Self-Advocacy Initiative
Uganda National Self-Advocacy Initiative (UNSAI) is a peer-led organization of people with psycho-social disabilities founded by Dorothy Nakato Mubezi. UNSAI envisions an inclusive society through human rights-based advocacy, empowerment of women with disabilities through skills development, and gender equality advocacy and disability advocacy.
In 2021, Dorothy was a Fellow with the International Disability Alliance as a Researcher. In 2023, Dorothy published a case study “Access to Gainful Employment for Women and Youth with Psychosocial Disabilities in Africa.” She has won numerous awards including the Zero Project Award for Community Inclusion of Persons with Psycho-Social Disabilities. In September 2023, Dorothy received the UNESCO International Literacy Award for equipping rural girls and women with disabilities with literacy and numeracy skills. Dorothy has also received a Syliver Medal and Diploma.
2023 Fellow, Managing Director, Zubere
Ernestine Mukamuhire is the founder and CEO of Zubere, a handmade clothing and accessories company founded in 2018. Zubere is centered around women’s empowerment, and 90% of the company’s employees are women.
Ernestine has a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in education. She has participated in several national incubation programs to support women’s businesses. Additionally, a portion of the profits from Zubere are used to support a literacy community initiative and children’s library.
2023 Fellow, Founder, Ellie Bianca
Socially conscious innovator, Evelyne Nyairo, is the driving force behind the luxurious all-natural skincare line, Ellie Bianca. Through Ellie Bianca she has not only created a skin care line but also a women’s empowerment venture designed to “heal not just the skin, but the soul”. Ellie Bianca is a beacon of hope and global connection.
Evelyne holds an undergraduate degree in environmental sciences with biology and chemistry majors and an M.Sc. in Environmental Management and currently, she is a PhD Fellow pursuing Strategy and Innovation. Evelyne has provided strategic planning on high-profile projects worldwide and has held many energy sector leadership positions. A serial entrepreneur, Ellie Bianca, inspired by her daughter, its namesake, is the most recent of five companies that Evelyne has created and nurtured to success.
Evelyn’s business contributions have been recognized by many. She was featured on the 2021 Dragon’s Den, was the winner of the 2021 RCB Canadian Women Entrepreneurship Award, the CHFA Industry Achievement Award for Celebrating Diversity, the COVID-19 Leader Award, the Calgary Business Leaders Award, and a semi-finalist of the CANIE Black Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
2023 Fellow, Founder/Director, Sirohi
Gauri (Gopal) Malik is the founder of the Skilled Samaritan Foundation (SSF) and Sirohi, an SSF brand. Sirohi is a sustainable luxury brand that fuses modern design with traditional skills to handcraft home and lifestyle products. The brand provides gainful employment and financial independence to village housewives.
Gauri is a finance and economics graduate from the Warwick Business School in the United Kingdom. She began her career as an investment banker at Deutsche Bank before founding SSF. Her vision is to build a micro-entrepreneurship platform to provide design support and market access to women skilled in crafts and establish Sirohi as a global home and lifestyle brand.
She is a multi-award winner for her work at the grassroots level and has been awarded the UN Women Generation Equality Award, British Council’s UK Alumni Award, Face of Meta’s Fuel of India campaign 2021, and Ficci-Flo Uttar Pradesh, where her enterprise has been funded under the SFURTI scheme of the Ministry of Handicrafts and Textiles. Through her social enterprises, she has worked with large retail partners including WeWork, Facebook, and Uniqlo to create income opportunities for thousands of women from Western Uttar Pradesh.
2023 Fellow, Co-founder/CTO, Kaarigar Mandi
Dr. Hifza Afaq leads Kaarigar Mandi, a transformative B2B platform for the footwear supply industry. Her mission is to strengthen the entire footwear supply chain by bridging the gap between bulk footwear buyers and small manufacturers while providing vital support to businesses.
With a background in computer software, a Ph.D. specializing in soft computing, and a passion for social work, Dr. Hifza brings extensive expertise to her multifaceted roles in IT, marketing, women artisans’ welfare, and training at Kaarigar Mandi. Her entrepreneurial journey has been enriched by prestigious programs at institutions like CIIE.CO, IIM Ahmedabad, and IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, including WISE Action for India and NSRCEL IIM Bangalore via the Goldman Sachs 10000 women program.
Dr. Hifza’s commitment to creating opportunities for marginalized communities led to accolades from the Government of Uttar Pradesh startup nodal agency. Dr. Hifza’s remarkable journey in technology-driven entrepreneurship continues to make a profound mark on the industry.
2023 Fellow, CEO/Creative Director, JIAMINI
Jennifer Mulli is the founder of JIAMINI, a family-run, Kenyan-based fashion accessories brand. JIAMINI means “believe in yourself” in Swahili, and the brand was founded to preserve traditional African heritage. JIAMINI’s mission is to design an international wardrobe for today’s global woman while at the same time helping women rise above poverty through economic empowerment and employment, one stitch at a time through fashion. Jennifer trains and mentors over 100 women at the grassroots level monthly through her business.
Before founding JIAMINI, Jennifer worked as the regional grants and operations manager at the International Peacebuilding Alliance and held various positions at USAID’s offices in Sudan, Kenya, and Somalia. She received a secretarial diploma from Kianda College in Nairobi, Kenya.
Jennifer has received numerous accolades including a Meritorious Honor Award from USAID, a Sustained Superior Performance Award in support of US foreign policy objectives, and a Superior Unit Citation for Outstanding professionalism and quiet courage in responding to the bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, and many more.
She has also participated in the Women Entrepreneurial Leadership Program in Massachusetts, USA, African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program in New York/Washington, DC, Sustainable Trade Opportunities Training in the Netherlands, and two Vital Voices Entrepreneurs in Handicraft Trainings.
2023 Fellow, Founder/Creative Director, KAHINDO
Kahindo Mateene, the founder of KAHINDO, a New York-based ethical luxury fashion brand established in 2017, is a creative visionary with a deep connection to her Congolese heritage and African upbringing. Her brand is a shining example of ethical fashion, proudly Made in Africa and committed to fair trade principles.
Kahindo’s journey in fashion began with her education at the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago. Her diverse background, including being born in Uganda and living in various African countries, has profoundly influenced her design aesthetics and global perspective.
Kahindo’s passions extend beyond fashion as she uses her brand to create job opportunities for African women and promote cultural exchange. KAHINDO’s luxury designs blend African heritage with contemporary influences, challenging stereotypes, and celebrating the diversity of African cultures. Continuing her growth in the fashion industry, Kahindo is a designer on a mission to empower women, champion sustainable fashion practices, and showcase the beauty of African culture in her creations.
Kahindo competed on season 12 of Project Runway, graduated from the Workshop at Macy’s program in 2023, and was recognized as a Tory Burch Fellow in 2021. Her work has been featured in WWD, Vogue, The New York Times, Elle, Essence, and Marie Claire.
2023 Fellow, Founder, JULAHAS
Kanak is the founder of Amsterdam-based JULAHAS, a new sustainable fashion brand that works with rural artisan communities across India.
Responsible fashion is close to Kanak’s heart and through JULAHAS, she wants to bring joy everywhere — from makers to wearers. She believes that just like her, people around the world make daily choices on what to wear while being able to express their personal style. Through her brand that creates multi-wear, size-free, and handcrafted garments, she hopes that people find an individual style expression that helps them feel happier and look great, all while making a positive impact on the planet and people.
Earlier this year, Kanak was invited to speak at TedXAUC (Amsterdam University College) to inspire students with her views on sustainable fashion. She recently completed a 100-day dress challenge with Wool&, where she wore the same dress every day for 100 days. Through small, mindful acts such as outfit repeating, buying less, and wearing more, Kanak shared how each of us has the responsibility to make a conscious sustainable choice.
Lorielinda Bella Marte
2023 Fellow, Owner/Founder/President, Tagolwanen Women Weavers Association, Inc.
Lorielinda Bella Marte is the founder-president of the Tagolwanen Women Weavers Association (TWWA), and its marketing arm, TWWA Enterprise. Lorie believes that indigenous women can practice self-determination if given more economic and educational opportunities. Her social enterprise seeks to preserve and promote the Bukidnon-Tagolwanen weaving, as well as the customs and traditions that surround it, as an economically viable source of employment for women weavers.
Before starting her social enterprise, Lorie graduated from the Business Administration course at the Philippine School of Business Administration. Her experience working in the finance department of non-profit advocacy groups for indigenous peoples, women, and labor also greatly helped her prepare for her role as a social entrepreneur.
Under Lorie’s leadership, TWWA was awarded the Gawad Gabay award in 2018, TWWA Enterprise was also awarded the Partner-Operator of the One Town One Product (OTOP) Hub in Malaybalay, Bukidnon to promote local products. She was a presenter in the Sinag Spark 2021 Social Enterprise Business Challenge for local social. Lorie was a participant in the 2021 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): Growing Indigenous Businesses Through Trade training program. She was recently selected to receive the Go Negosyo Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur Award for Inclusive Business in March 2023.
Lourdes Mena de Guerra
2023 Fellow, CEO, Lula Mena
Lula Mena generates hope and transforms lives by connecting art, design, and culture with vulnerable women in high-risk areas of El Salvador. Her fair-trade business creates sustainable job opportunities through the design and production of unique, eco-friendly, handmade, innovative products.
In 2001 Lula founded AZULES (Indigo Association of El Salvador). Lula has also been the director of the Indigo Trading Project and worked as a design consultant for USAID, where she taught contemporary craft design to more than 10 communities of artisans. In 2013, she became the owner, designer, and CEO of Lula Mena brand.
Lula has received numerous awards for her work, including the Enterprising Woman Award from Vital Voices, the Prominent Professional Award from Universidad Dr. Jose Matias Delgado, Export Woman of the Year from COEXPORT, Caoba Award for Best Social Entrepreneurship, and the Dahrendorf Award. Her designs have been finalists of the Ibero-American Design Biennial in 2017 and 2019. Lula is also a Member of the Board of Directors of Vital Voices El Salvador and a fellow of the Class XV at The Central America Leadership Initiative and EO.
Luanne Lei Ramos
2023 Fellow, Chief Operating Officer, One Iloilo
One Iloilo was developed as a response to the economic struggles of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) of Iloilo during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal was to help organize and create avenues for the economic recovery of the MSMEs producing locally made products, specifically Hablon, the handwoven textile from Iloilo. Hablon is traditionally made using abaca, piña, and cotton.
Luanne Lei Ramos is one of the pillars behind One Iloilo. Her commitment to serving the community by creating sustainable social enterprises and programs is the driving force behind her success. She was previously a Board Director of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Iloilo Chapter and helped pioneer the Chamber’s flagship programs. As a social entrepreneur, Luanne has been sharing her knowledge with students and has mentored start-ups under the Active Citizens Philippines – Western Visayas.
Marija Ivankovic Jurisic
2023 Fellow, Owner, The Artworkshop Marija Handmade
Marija Ivankovic Jurisic is a textile designer, NGO activist entrepreneur and the founder of Marija Handmade brand. She originally founded the brand as a small art workshop with her mother. By 2010, she had opened a flagship design store in the Cumic design district in downtown Belgrade. As a member of the Association of Businesswoman Serbia (ABWS), Marija serves as a mentor to many of the women she employs.
She previously worked in the jewelry company Zlatarna Celje in Slovenia and at PWL Fashion Company in Serbia. She graduated from the Belgrade Polytechnical High School in the textiles and leather design sector.
Along the way, her designs have been featured in international fashion shows in cities like Chicago, Bern, Amsterdam, Den Hague, Paris, and Sydney. Marija was presented with the Flower of the Success Award from ABWS and the Special Prize of the European Entrepreneur Network in Textile Programs.
2023 Fellow, Founder/CEO, MLC Fashion
Mary Lancelot stands as a visionary force at the helm of MLC Fashion, a trailblazing brand with a resolute mission. With a fervent commitment to sustainability, innovation, and inclusivity, MLC Fashion strives to reshape the fashion landscape. MLC Fashion fuses fashion and ethics, offering empowering, ethically produced clothing. Mary’s journey is a tapestry woven with diverse threads. An entrepreneur, Swiss knife virtual assistant, educator, and advocate, she ardently champions women’s empowerment and youth development.
As a Swiss knife virtual assistant, she adeptly serves both individuals and businesses. As a tech ambassador for Tech-up Girls Bootcamp, she mentors and empowers young girls to conquer technological frontiers. Mary’s technology ventures are no less remarkable. Her leadership roles within Womenstrust and as President of its Alumni Association underscore her dedication.
2023 Fellow, Managing Director, Afrocessories Co
Afrocessories Co, Ltd Kenya, founded by Mary Onyango in 2012, is a producer, exporter and distributor of contemporary African print wear, jewelry and home accessories for the corporate woman and man. Included in the variety of African clothing is a plus size range, which is generally difficult to find in conventional clothing stores. The versatile, vibrant and affordable clothing is produced by artisans and can both be worn formally or casually.
Afrocessories Co’s primary mission is to uplift the livelihoods of economically disadvantaged artisans by becoming a channel through which their skills can be utilized, as the business penetrates local and export markets.
The vision of Afrocessories Co is to be one of Kenya’s leading design houses; distributing and retailing up to the value of $300,000 in African print clothing, jewelry and home accessories. They plan to accomplish this through physical retail stores and online marketing platforms in Nairobi and other targeted cities in Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe in the next 5 years.
2023 Fellow, Founder/Creative Director, Fox & Bell Goldsmiths
Michele Fox-Bell is the co-founder and creative director of Fox & Bell Goldsmiths, based in Athlone, Ireland. Michele began her training as a goldsmith in Kilkenny, completing with distinction the Design and Crafts Council Degree course in Fine Jewelry and Design.
While building a successful business making unique bespoke pieces showcasing high craftsmanship, Michele has also continued studying engraving, patination and gemology within the trade. Michele also studied the history of art and architecture, economics, political science and sociology at Trinity College, Dublin. Michele’s first gallery exhibition, “Vespertine” acknowledged the archaeological depth of jewelry as an expression of destiny, love, the ties that bind, strength, and a visible interpretation of intangible feelings.
Over 25 years she has completed many private commissions, gallery exhibitions and retail showcase exhibitions, running in conjunction with a commercially based website. Michele is also a passionate advocate for women in metalwork and economically marginalized young adults. Michele is amongst a growing number of skilled artisans working in Ireland to provide an alternative education system which is inclusive of the alternative mind by providing a qualification system which is treated as equal to the present academic system.
2023 Fellow, CEO, Yidios Hakim
Yidios Hakim is a woman founded and woman led business spearheaded by Michelle Yidios. The company is a combination of passion, culture, and opportunities, connected through fashion. Through their product development process, Yidios Hakim impacts more than five communities from the Middle East and Colombia by making bags and straps that are meant to challenge creativity. It’s a mix and match concept to create a combination that fits different personalities.
Michelle’s previous roles and leadership experience include hosting PopTalks on E! Entertainment Latin America, producing La Lupa digital magazine, producing at E! Entertainment Latin America for the program Zona Trendy and as a press manager at Paola España Press and Entertainment.
Michelle has been featured in Vogue Latin America magazine for December 2021- January 2022, Despierta America (Univision), the cover of Caras magazine, Telemundo, CBS (Miami), Espacio Vogue, Porsche Newsroom Latin America and Fucsia Magazine,
She has appeared on numerous podcasts, including Speak-Up Uniandinos “Autenticidad y Empoderamiento Femenino con Michelle Yidios,” Super Poder “ep 12. Michelle Yidios,” ¿Ysi Hablamos? “Amor por la Moda,” Sin Verdades Absolutas “T1 -E1 Autoempoderamiento es un Estilo de Vida. Michelle Yidios.”
2023 Fellow, Founder/CEO, mettā muse
Grounded in her humble Indian roots, Narmada Ramakrishna’s driving narrative is to make a positive and meaningful impact. Her business mettā muse is one key piece of this narrative. The world needs more bridges, to bring communities, people, visions, and intentions together- mettā muse is one such bridge.
As a former biotechnologist, Narmada was drawn to women’s empowerment and the bigger promise it held to transform and uplift societies for generations to come. She successfully started and still runs her first company, pink maharani, a sustainable luxury cashmere brand in Geneva with products handmade in the conflict region of Kashmir. Following the organic interest from designers and buyers, she saw a wider opportunity to broaden her vision to build a technology platform that could connect artisans and designers from around the world and take the handmade sector into the future. mettā muse provides a bridge between talented artisans and forward-thinking global brands to consciously create unique products and bring positive social impact.
Narmada was awarded the UN Women Top 20 Fashion Industry Disruptors and was also elected by the BMW Foundation as part of their World Responsible Leader Network.
Neesha Amrish Mehta
2023 Fellow, Founder/Creative Director, Aeshaane
Neesha Amrish Mehta’s journey started as a creative passion to embrace colors, textures and weaves that were not only wearable but also sustainable. As a mother of a little girl, she believes that protecting the earth is as important as cherishing our girls. Her company, Aeshaane, is an award-winning, global slow fashion brand that celebrates the work of rural craftsmen from local communities to create visual masterpieces from sustainable vegan silk – a cruelty-free cloth combined with the ancient technique of hand-block printing.
Aeshaane showcased at the Fabric of India Festival at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 2015 and has been retailing with them since. Neesha also retails with The British Museum in the United Kingdom, the Textile Museum in the Netherlands, and the Sarasota Museum in the United States among a host of many niche concept stores globally.
Aeshaane received ‘The Best Emerging Talent’ Trophy at Top Drawer, London in 2019. Neesha has received the ‘She Unltd Best Entrepreneur Award’ from the leading publication The Times of India. In 2018, she went on to receive the Women Achievers Award for Women Empowerment and Exhibiting Strong Leadership Qualities by FICCI FLO, Chennai.
2023 Fellow, Founder, Runway Nagaland
Runway Nagaland is run by a team of women artisans working to preserve and promote the traditional art of handmade accessories. By creating employment and livelihood opportunities, their mission is to empower women artisans in Nagaland and promote locally-made jewelry.
Nengneithem Hengna, founder of Runway Nagaland, brings her corporate experience from Dabur India Pvt. Ltd and HDFC Life to this entrepreneurial journey that she began in 2013 after graduating with a degree in Political Science Honors from Delhi University.
Runway Nagaland has been honored with numerous awards, including an award from the Ministry of Textile, Government of India, the FLO Women Achiever Award from FICCI FLO, and an award from the Export Promotional Council for Handicrafts for participation in the 16th Indian Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Show. In addition, the company has been recognized by the Women Resource Development Department, Government of Nagaland, the 7th Assam Rifles and Act of Kindness Society, and was selected as one of the ten women-led ventures in India to be a part of the Impact Hub Berlin initiative. Runway Nagaland has been studied by Professor Dr. Neelam Rani from IIM Shillong and has been published. Additionally, the company’s journey has been covered by ZEE Studios.
Ola Shami Nasr
2023 Fellow, Owner, Qasaed Jewelry
Ola Shami Nasir is the founder and owner of Qasaed Jewelry. Qasaed is the Arabic word for poems, and the company’s core mission is to infuse the captivating art of Arabic calligraphy into handmade jewelry, creating wearable masterpieces that eloquently narrate stories and emotions. Through this fusion, Qasaed aspires to bridge cultures, celebrate individuality, and offer a unique avenue for self-expression.
Ola holds a master’s degree in mathematics and philosophy. She has taught at a university for more than ten years and recently left the education sector to focus on Qasaed Jewelry. She is also a poet, and her poetry book was awarded the 3rd best-selling poetry book at the Beirut Arab Book Fair in 2014.
In 2018, Ola served as a keynote speaker at the Networking Achieve Revolt event, championing the cultivation of an entrepreneurial mindset among women. In 2023, she took on the pivotal role of a jury member for the Noun Da’am initiative, advocating for women aged 35 to 55 aiming to re-enter the workforce post-education. Ola’s ongoing commitment continues with her current role as a mentor in the Generation of Innovation Leaders program, where she passionately guides a 20-year-old aspiring entrepreneur, fostering her vision and equipping her with the tools for success.
Pakinam Moustafa Ismail Ibrahim
2023 Fellow, Founder, Paky Art House for Handmade Work
Pakinam Moustafa’s mission is to foster sustainable development and environmental conservation by focusing on the handicraft sector while promoting economic empowerment and cultural preservation. Her business, Paky Art House, creates high-end glass work for the hospitality industry, with 25 years of experience and clients worldwide.
With a background in social entrepreneurship and a deep commitment to women’s empowerment, Pakinam has previously served as a volunteer in Women’s Empowerment Programs at Artisans, where she successfully implemented initiatives that improved the livelihoods of countless women artisans. Her tireless efforts to bridge the gap between traditional craftsmanship and global markets have garnered her recognition as a leader for women’s economic empowerment.
Pakinam’s focus on social entrepreneurship at a leading institution has received accolades such as the EmpowerHER Excellence Award for her outstanding work in empowering women through the handicraft industry. She continues to drive her mission forward, ensuring that women artisans not only preserve their cultural heritage but also thrive economically in a sustainable and socially responsible manner.
Patricia Corazon Lim
2023 Fellow, CEO, Wovencrafts Inc.
Woven is a compassionate crafts company that works with Filipino artisans to create products for the modern lifestyle. As a social enterprise that aims to uplift the lives of craftspeople in the Philippines, it creates products that bring value to their work, their lives, and cultural traditions.
Trish Lim Francia is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Woven. She was editor-in-chief of Lifestyle Network Global before becoming a full-time social entrepreneur. She also does research work for NGOs, writing case studies on enterprises, foundations, and academic institutions.
Trish completed her master’s in Social Enterprise Development at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business. With her experience in leading Woven, she was invited to co-author a guidebook on social entrepreneurship entitled How to Manage a Business that Does Good, published by the Filipino non-profit Bayan Academy in 2021.
Dr. Jovanna Nathalie Cervantes Guzman
2023 Fellow, CEO, Atellier Organic Joyas de Autor
Nathalie Cervantes is the CEO and co-founder of Atellier Organic Joyas de Autor. Along with her mother, Nathalie set out to build a brand that would be focused on making stunning jewelry and supporting NGOs that help women entrepreneurs from developing countries.
Natalie holds a master’s degree in Marketing Management and a Ph.D. in Management Sciences from the University of Guadalajara. Nathalie is a professor at the University of Guadalajara (CUCEA) and a tutor at Griffith University. She has participated in entrepreneurship programs at Boston University and Arizona State University. Nathalie currently does research into incentives for women’s entrepreneurship in Bio&MedTech.
Nathalie is a winner of the “Women & Business Contest” 2019 at the Pacific Trade Show in Toronto, Canada, a fellow in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative 2020 – 2021 by the U.S. Department of State, a 10 Top Beauty Startups and Companies in México by F6S, a finalist in Future Learning 2021 by Falling Walls Berlin, and a finalist in Creative Industries 2021 by Tic Americas, YBAT, and OEA. She is a member of “Women Owned”, “Artisan Alliance”, “CO”, and “Buildanest”.
2023 Fellow, Founder/CEO, Moi Namaste
Pukhraj Ranjan, founder and CEO of Moi Namaste, is driving change in the fashion industry through ethical design. A dual, for-purpose business model, Moi Namaste offers ethically created, artisanal fashion and lifestyle products through their brand website for global consumers. Simultaneously, Moi Namaste is helping independent designers and businesses establish a sustainable and transparent supply chain in India, from production to distribution, working with the artisan community for their designs.
An Indian educator-turned-entrepreneur with over a decade’s worth of experience in the development sector, Pukhraj is determined to create wealth and well-being opportunities for Indian artisans, especially women, through livelihood generation and global market access. Co-creation, community empowerment, and care are at the center of her work. Pukhraj is a cheerleader for women-owned companies and is committed to fighting for the dignity and living wages or marginalized people worldwide.
She was recognized as one of the Global Emerging Leaders at the World Innovation Summit for Education in 2019 by the Qatar Foundation and selected as a 2022 Break Fellow in an incubator funded by the European Union and designed by Escuela de Organización Industrial EOI School.
2023 Fellow, Founder/Director, TUSC Concepts
As the founder of TUSC Concepts and the driving force behind the Art for Change project in Kenya, Quinter Achieng oversees two vibrant art spaces located in Dandora and Huruma, Kenya. Her mission is to empower and support youth and young mothers through visual arts, recycling waste into fashion, and performance art.
With a background in film production from the University of Nairobi, she brings a unique blend of creativity and expertise to their initiatives. Her passion for art and dedication to community development drive her to create opportunities for aspiring artists and eco-conscious individuals.
In addition to her work with Art for Change, she also plays a role in brand management within the fitness industry, channeling her love for fitness into promoting healthier lifestyles.
Her commitment to fostering creativity, sustainability, and well-being is at the core of everything she does. Together with a talented team and community partners, her organization is shaping a brighter future through the transformative power of art and conscious living.
2023 Fellow, Founder, Rudhvay
Rashi Soni is the visionary founder behind Rudhvay – The Artisans’ Story. Her academic journey began at Mumbai University, India, where she pursued her undergraduate studies in psychology. Following this, Rashi embarked on a transformative path, attaining a master’s degree in human resource management from the prestigious University of Westminster in London.
Rudhvay emerged as a COVID-19 lockdown initiative, born from the realization that while women artisans are trained, a critical missing piece was a robust market platform to showcase their remarkable artistry. Hence, Rudhvay was conceived.
The Rudhvay journey epitomizes an impassioned mission: to elevate India’s immensely skilled artisans, one state at a time. Central to their unwavering commitment is the marriage of design and development, empowering artisans to channel their craftsmanship into distinctive, bespoke apparel and lifestyle products that resonate with the younger generation.
Rashi’s driving force has always been to kindle an appreciation for the rich heritage of these artisans. She aspires to inspire individuals to conscientiously shift away from the world of fleeting fashion and embrace their artisans’ legacy in their daily lives. All the exquisite products they create find a home on their e-commerce platforms, Rudhvay’s retail outlet at Ahmedabad airport, and various B2B channels.
2023 Fellow, Founder, Fifth Origins
Fifth Origins stands as a pioneering sustainable lifestyle brand, seamlessly weaving together style, sustainability, and social impact. Central to the organization’s mission is the creation of the world’s first, unequivocally transparent claim verification platform, empowering consumers with accurate insights during their purchase journey.
With a track record of being at the helm of two sustainable enterprises, Sindhu Holla, the driving force behind Fifth Origins, has fostered a revenue surpassing three million dollars (across two companies) and has fostered meaningful connections with over 15,000 patrons spanning 200 cities.
Yet, amidst these accomplishments, Sindhu’s most cherished achievement rests in her profound influence upon the lives of over 2,000 artisans, scattered across India’s vast expanse. Through her unwavering dedication, she has catalyzed positive change by nourishing the livelihoods of artisans and echoing a lasting impact on communities of buyers and artisans by connecting them.
2023 Fellow, Founder/CEO, The Postcard Edit
Sofiya Deva is the founder of The Postcard Edit, which she describes as Farfetch with an ESG angle.
The Postcard Edit began in 2019 as a fashion brand called This Same Sky, with a mission to create a path to market for handicraft workers. While the brand was initially involved in design and production, Sofiya decided to rethink the model. On her travels, she met amazing designer after designer who, driven by a love of artistry and their local communities, were translating traditional techniques by hiring makers and stretching the limits of representation in the mainstream.
She realized that by creating a platform for these designers — women, designers of color, and voices from the ethnic diaspora — she would not only be able to fulfill her original mission but strive towards decolonizing design and partnering in cooperative, rather than purely competitive ways to drive social change.
Thus, The Postcard Edit was born. The first curated collection hails from the capital of Sri Lanka and is a mix of resort wear and breezy urban essentials featuring batik, brass and silk. The featured designers are sustainable and employ local women and rural artisans.
2023 Fellow, CEO, Plasticraft Ltd
Sonia Umulinga is the CEO of Plasticraft Ltd, a creative space in Rwanda. Sonia’s vision is for Plasticraft to become Africa’s largest creative hub that enhances and promotes handmade skills to produce outstanding artistic products that fulfill customer satisfaction. Additionally, she hopes to add sustainable value to spaces locally, regionally, and globally by using recycled, eco-friendly artistic products.
Sonia is dedicated to community engagements, as she currently leads the climate activism project “Greenwards Rwanda.” She is also a member of the Circular Economy Hub at Norskenn Kigali House. Sonia is on the board of directors establishing GS1 Rwanda.
Recently, Sonia has been selected among the top 70 innovators who presented their innovations at the African Union Action Innovation Hub during the Africa Climate Summit 2023. Sonia won the Accelerate Africa Business Pitch Competition in 2022 and the Emerge Her Leadership and Business Competition in 2023.
2023 Fellow, Founder/CEO, Oaxaca en una caja®
Tabatha A. Mata is a Mexican businesswoman and entrepreneur. Her business, Oaxaca en una caja, is internationally known, as it promotes Oaxacan handicrafts and edible arrangements in handmade boxes, made and sold under fair trade practices. By working directly with 81 families across Oaxaca, the social enterprise generates income for these families, recognizes local traditions, and fosters economic growth within the region. Oaxaca en una caja currently offers free training programs for women artisans and small producers.
Tabatha has participated in scaling programs organized by Agora Partnerships, Pro Mujer, Impact Hub, Google and Stanford University. She has also been a member of different business chapters. She has experience working in the public sector by serving as Deputy Director of Promotion and Business Development for the Municipality of Oaxaca de Juárez, and in civil society by coordinating the Mujeres A.V.E. project, an international business training program for women micro-entrepreneurs in alliance with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Oxfam and the European Union.
Her work has been featured in renowned magazines, including Forbes and Entrepreneur, and has been recognized by the Mexican Association of Entrepreneurs. She ran for local Congress in 2016.
2023 Fellow, Founder/CEO, Artisan Links
Founded by Tahira Afridi, Artisan Links is a socially responsible fair trade business featuring products that contribute to a sustainable future. Their mission is to empower women artists by establishing a sustainable, successful, and responsible business. Artisan Links is a specialized production house providing high-quality, bespoke, hand-embroidered designs to fulfill their customer’s creative requirements.
Tahira has dedicated her career to empowering women artisans by providing training, product development and market access. Artisan Links’s success is due to Tahira and her team’s collaborations with international and local designers, combining local art and embroidery with modern concepts to appeal to global markets. As the only guaranteed member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), each Artisan Links product is beautifully handcrafted by a team of women-only artisans, comprised of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
Artisan Links’s work ethic and role in empowering women and providing them with income-generating activities has been recognized by WFTO, MADE51/UNHCR, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industries Peshawar, Pakistan.
Tamara Gondo Soerijo
2023 Fellow, CEO/Founder, Liberty Society
Tamara Gondo Soerijo is the founder and CEO of the Liberty Society. Passionate about people development, community development, and financial inclusion, her social enterprise creates B2B merchandise and hampers that empower marginalized women and communities. Partnering with 15 artisan communities, Liberty Society empowers more than 500 people using business to lift communities out of poverty. Through their training to employment program, 100 refugees have been trained and have increased their income by three or four times, and impacted 1,000 community members through social well-being programs.
Tamara double majored in Sociology and Communication Studies, and double minored in Social Justice, Human Rights and Conflict Transformation and Biblical Studies at Biola University. Her previous experiences include Head of Acquisition at Yuna&Co, Partnership Manager at Digitaraya, a Google for Startup Accelerator, VP of Permias Nasional, Head of Community at Spark Indonesia, and Director of her non-profit Second Chance Initiative, focusing on empowering youth and building sustainable communities. After graduating from university, she consulted for Indonesian NGOs and social projects such as refugee groups, disaster relief, and rural community development.
Since its creation, Liberty Society has worked with some of the world’s biggest companies including Uniqlo, Ikea, and the Body Shop to reach millions of customers.
2023 Fellow, Owner/Founder, CHYATEE
Timbrel Chyatee leads CHYATEE, a sustainable fashion brand committed to uplifting artisans in India, fostering their growth, and preserving their art and cultural heritage. As the driving force behind CHYATEE, Timbrel’s mission revolves around empowering these artisans to flourish while ensuring the preservation of their rich history.
Timbrel’s extensive professional background reflects her dedication to social enterprise and women’s advocacy in India. With a remarkable track record, she has served as a board member of her local chamber of commerce and contributed significantly to various non-profit organizations. Her multifaceted leadership experiences align with her passion for fostering socio-economic progress in India and beyond.
Timbrel’s contributions have earned her notable recognition, including the honor of being a TEDx Speaker. Her volunteering efforts in India, combined with her broader socio-economic work, underscore her commitment to effecting positive change in communities. Timbrel’s dedication, leadership, and extensive expertise in sustainable fashion and socio-economic development have solidified her position as a respected advocate for artisans and women in India.
2023 Fellow, Founder/Lead Trainer, Tandika Uganda Academy Ltd
Rosette Twizerimana is the founder of Tandika Uganda Academy, a pioneering initiative with a mission to empower women and girls through skill development. Her organization trains individuals in open-toe shoe design and production while utilizing environmentally conscious practices. Since 2016, Rosette has tirelessly dedicated herself to the cause, successfully training over 1,500 women in crafting leather sandals, slip-ons, and lace-up shoes from recycled tires and locally sourced materials. Her goal is to make shoemaking skills accessible and easy to learn, eliminating the need for complicated heavy machinery.
Prior to her work with Tandika Uganda Academy, Rosette spent three years learning open footwear design and production. She holds a diploma in Accounting from Mukono YMCA College of Commercial Studies, showcasing her diverse skills and knowledge.
Rosette’s remarkable efforts have not gone unnoticed. She has received several prestigious fellowships, including the Mandela Washington Fellowship in 2019 and the African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative Fellowship. She is an alumna of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs. Her dedication to empowering women and girls to achieve financial independence has left an indelible mark on her community and beyond, earning her recognition and admiration for her outstanding contributions.
2023 Fellow, CEO, Ivy League Collections
Uchenna Ibe is the founder and lead designer of Ivy League Collections Limited, a sustainable contemporary and traditional textile inspired interior design and soft furnishing company. The company designs, manufactures, repurposes, and sells ready-to-use home furnishings throughout retail stores in Nigeria. Uchenna has empowered and impacted the lives of over 800 young women in acquiring tailoring and vocational design skills.
Uchenna holds a Master of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship from Walden University and is an alumnus of Cornell University’s Women Entrepreneurship Program. A seasoned Certified Relationship, Marriage, and Family Counselor, Uchenna is a pre-marriage training facilitator for the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos and an advocate for natural family planning. She is an alumnus of the Miller Institute for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University and the Bettany Centre for Management at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom.
Uchenna is involved in the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), an Associate Member and Mentor at Women in Management, Business and Public Services (WIMBIZ), and a Country Leader in the African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC). She was selected for the 10,000 Women Growth Fellows Program, run by Goldman Sachs.
2023 Fellow, Founder, Ekibeki
Vishpala Naik Hundekari is the founder of Ekibeki, a social enterprise that aims to preserve, rejuvenate, and grow rich craft heritages and create livelihoods for artisans. Ekibeki creates aspirational, high-quality contemporary products using traditional crafts. Vishpala’s business establishes market linkages to create a sustainable ecosystem and a virtuous growth cycle for craft clusters.
Vishpala studied architecture at Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur and furniture design from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. She is also a co-creator of Creative Dignity, a nationwide movement started during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has designed residential interiors for over 20 years and for the last 13 years, she has been working extensively with artisans in remote villages of India, developing craft-based products for retail, exports and corporate gifting.
Vishpala is part of the second cohort (2021) of Facebook Pragati, a CSR initiative of Facebook powered by The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation. Vishpala received a special mention at the Kamladevi Chattopadhyay Award -2021 for social impact in the craft sector. Vishpala is also a regular speaker at schools, colleges, corporations and design events to promote Indian folk arts and crafts.
Zarah Jane Juan
2023 Fellow, Creative Director/President, Zarah Juan
The Zarah Juan brand, founded by Zarah Jane Juan, is a social and cultural enterprise that supports sustainable livelihoods through partnerships with different Filipino artisans. Its collection of one-of-a-kind shoes, bags, and accessories is an innovation of Filipino craftsmanship that expertly combines traditional and modern designs. The Zarah Juan Brand outsources production of its products to various Filipino artisans. Zarah’s company also provides continuous mentorship and capacity-building for the communities it engages, supporting sustainable livelihoods and promoting the uniqueness of each community.
A multi-awarded Filipino designer, Zarah Juan’s creations have been featured in the most prestigious fashion magazines in the world including Vogue Italia, Vogue Hong Kong, and Vogue Philippines. Forbes Magazine heralded her work as an immediate show stopper, describing her as a brilliant designer for weaving nostalgia and cultural awareness into her pieces.
Zarah was awarded Top 100 Most Influential Filipina in the World 2019 in Paris, France, and the Philippines’ representative in Papua New Guinea for the 2018 APEC BEST Award, where she brought home the most prestigious award: Most Innovative Business Model.