The Vital Voices GROW Fellowship is a leading global accelerator program for women owners of small and medium-sized businesses that are making a social impact. Going into the 8th year, this program aims to elevate women business leaders as drivers for economic growth and social change in their communities, countries and the world by helping them grow their businesses and expand their social impact.
Today, there are an estimated 12 million women-owned small and-medium sized businesses around the world, and 7 million of those businesses are in developing countries. Globally, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 45% of full time employment and more than 70% job creation in low- and middle-income countries. But women business owners face disproportionate challenges in accessing the services and support needed to grow their businesses, including financial services, business training, networks and access to markets.
At Vital Voices, we believe that women-owned businesses are a powerful force for inclusive growth and prosperity. By supporting women at the helm of SMEs and businesses, the VV GROW Fellowship helps women create jobs, catalyze economic growth and drive social change around the world.
VV GROW offers customized business skills training, leadership development, technical assistance, and access to networks. Through online trainings, fellows focus on strategy and long-term business value, and put those concepts to work by building action-oriented strategic plans to grow their businesses.
With VV GROW, Fellows gain knowledge and skills in strategic planning, financial management, marketing, sales, strategic networking, leadership, human resources and communications. Fellows receive valuable technical assistance and become part of a supportive global network of women leaders across the Vital Voices global network.
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Meet The 2021 Fellows
2021 Fellow, Manager, E-Products Ltd
Elisa is the Manager of E-Products Limited, a community-oriented family business focused on providing printing and promotional services to individuals and organizations in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The company aims to be the best all-in-one provider for printing needs and document printing services including document typing, formatting, art work, printing and printing finish services; long format printing and advertisement; and branding and customized corporate merchandise. E-Products’ mission is to help its customers promote and market their products and services effectively through high-quality, customized, relevant printing solutions. They focus on quality jobs, competitive pricing and efficiency in meeting customer demands and timelines. E-Products also designs and manufactures custom jewelry and leather bags targeted to Papua New Guinean women, which are sold both locally and to Papua New Guinean women around the world. Long-term, E-Products is looking to increase the size of the company through planned growth, as well as create jobs in the community for women and youth. Elisa holds a general nursing certificate and is an alumna of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) in Papua New Guinea and serves as the chairwoman of the AWE Alumni group in the country. Elisa is also a member of the Papua New Guinea Christian Professional Network Inc and works with the organization through E-Products to support their annual events. Elisa is a self-taught entrepreneur with experience in business operations management, customer relations management and basic financial literacy.
2021 Fellow, Founder & CEO, Abundance Private School
Jeanne-Frances is the Founder and CEO of Abundance Private School (APS), a bilingual, faith-based school for children aged nursery to 18 years. APS uses a vocational and collegiate based international curriculum and works to respond to community needs by providing educational services that emphasize quality, care and Christian experience. APS works hard to ensure that everyone is treated equally and is encouraged and respected in a happy, caring, and fun environment. APS’ aim is to help form global citizens by developing student’s talents, instilling a strong sense of self-esteem, and providing a fun and engaging learning environment. Jeanne-Frances believes that smaller classes allow for teachers to get to know their students, monitor their progress, and offer more personalized guidance. Following this belief, the average class size at APS is 15 students with two teachers. Education at APS goes beyond in-class lessons by providing career advising services to students including offering career programs such as student exchanges, excursions, and career fairs. APS also works to serve the Cotonou community by providing a language and literacy program for adults and out of school children to acquire literacy skills and work on mid-career training. APS also offers learning opportunities in Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) and Computer Programming. Jeanne-Frances holds a Bachelors of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of Nigeria and is a member of the Women Entrepreneurs and Professional’s Development Network. Her focus is on building leadership capacity and bilingual curriculum/ instructional expertise. Jeanne-Frances maintains a serious commitment to professional development and helping teachers improve themselves and share with each other.
2021 Fellow, CEO, Western Silk Road, Ltd.
Sandra Ejang is the CEO of Western Silk Road, a company that helps rural households boost their income through beekeeping. Western Silk Road offers technical beekeeping advisory, consultancy services, and beekeeping equipment to individuals who would otherwise be left out of agribusiness due to a lack of capital. Sandra takes a household approach to creating the beekeeping value chain in order to empower rural household farmers and still produce quality food and beauty products. Western Silk Road’s services provide a boost in income for these individuals and groups while also creating a line of honey and beeswax-based products for their own retail business. They are dedicated to promoting food security, economic empowerment, environmental conservation, and social transformation through the practice of beekeeping. Western Silk Road aims to be a company focused on fostering strong and enduring mutually beneficial relationships with the people and the communities they work with. Sandra has a Bachelors in Telecommunications Engineering and is a member of the Community Women’s Enterprise Network (CWEN) and the African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF). She is a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship alumna, a 2018 Arican Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC) participant, and a 2019 DFCU Bank Rising Women. She was also recognized as the Women in Africa 54 Project Laureate for Uganda in 2020. Sandra hopes to inspire women like herself who are in male-dominated fields, and hopes to be a role model for other women social entrepreneurs.
What Sandra hopes to gain through the VV GROW Fellowship:
Sandra hopes to improve her business skills and become a better advocate for women in business. Above all, Sandra wants to become a role model for women who are afraid to start their business.
What Sandra can offer other fellows:
Sandra can offer her knowledge and experience working with working with rural households and agribusiness.
Connect with Sandra on Social Media:
LinkedIn (business): https://www.linkedin.com/company/asali-wa-moyo-honey
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandra-ejang-elobu-2695932b/
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/asaliwamoyohoney
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/sandielobu
Twitter (business): https://twitter.com/Asali_Wa_Moyo
Zamzana Mohd Arifin
2021 Fellow, CEO, PantangPlus.com
Zamzana is the CEO of PantangPlus, a pregnancy and maternity service and education provider. PantangPlus works with trained therapists that offer confinement therapy and services to post-partum mothers based on traditional practices found throughout Asia. These services offer new mothers the opportunity of complete confinement and rest post-delivery. Through the PantangPlus website, mothers-to-be can quickly and easily book the post-natal care services of their choosing. Zamzana’s business also focuses on hiring lower-income women in order to empower them through employment. Zamzana holds a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing and a diploma in Investment Analysis from UiTM Shah Alam. She belongs to the Women Entrepreneur Network Association of Malaysia (WENA), Peniagawati (Association of Bumiputera Women in Business and Profession), Chamber of Social Entrepreneur Development Malaysia (CSED), and Daya Urusharta Sdn Bhd (DUSB). Zamzana’s previous roles include serving as the Director of Suir Permai Spa and mymakbidan.com, Manager of Wealth Management at Al Rajhi Bank BHD, and Assistant Manager at RHB InvestmentBhd.
What Zamzana hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Zamzana hopes to widen her network, improve her leadership skills, and grow her business’ exposure.
What Zamzana can offer other fellows:
Zamzana has experience with crowd funding, mentoring women, the start-up hustle, social entrepreneurship, storytelling, investment deck pitching, and women and wellness therapy- including spa, massage and post-partum care. She can offer other fellows’ advice on coaching, mentoring, training, and hustling.
Connect with Zamzana on Social Media:
LinkedIn (Business): https://www.linkedin.com/company/pantangplus/
LinkedIn (Personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/zamzana-mohd-arifin/
Facebook (Business): https://www.facebook.com/pantangplus
Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/zamzanamohdarifin
Instagram (Business): https://www.instagram.com/pantangplus/
Instagram (Personal): https://www.instagram.com/pantangqueen/
2021 Fellow, Owner, VSP Coaching Aduanero y Consultoria Estrategica
Veronica is the Owner of VSP Coaching Aduanero y Consultoria Estrategica, a legal and foreign trade consulting firm. VSP Coaching Aduanero y Consultoria Estrategica offers legal and business compliance consulting, trainings on commerce law, litigation services, assistance with securing AEO/OEA certifications, and preventive audits. Veronica’s own expertise includes legal consulting, foreign trade (specifically imports) and business management. In addition to her work for VSP Coaching Aduanero y Consultoria Estrategica, Veronica serves as a partner at GID Industries S.A. de C.V., and as legal director and partner at Ms Trucking and Montacargas Store. She previously served as the National President of the 10,000 Mujeres Unidas por Mexico and was a 2018 Cherie Blair Foundation mentee. Veronica also took part in Vital Voices’ Global Ambassadors Program in 2017 in Los Angeles, California. She belongs to the Mexico chapter of WE Connect International, 10,000 Mujeres Unidas por México, International Trade Centre’s SheTrades, and Coparmex Celaya where she serves as the President of the Committee of Business Women. She holds a Law Degree from the Universidad Lasallista Benavente, a Masters of Constitutional Law from the Universidad Iberoamericana, a foreign trade certification from COFOCE, and has taken part in AOTS Japan’s Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management program.
What Veronica hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Veronica is eager to connect with other fellows and is already looking forward to the day when it is safe to arrange meetings in person. She is also excited to generate business opportunities and increase employment among the cohort.
What Veronica can offer other fellows:
Veronica can provide her peers with legal or entrepreneurship mentoring. Specifically, she can offer her legal knowledge of importing products to Mexico. She is also happy to partner with other fellows to offer online conferences, business meetings or panels on successful women.
Connect with Veronica on Social Media:
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/veronica-sp-2540a43b/
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/VSPCOACH
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/v7798PP
Twitter (personal): https://twitter.com/vsdgl
Tia Hardy Robinson
2021 Fellow, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Expath Training and Consulting GmbH
Tia is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Expath Training and Consulting, an organization that offers innovative language training and award-winning relocation and immigration services to expats in Germany. Their services provide the skills, tools, and information needed for expats to set up a new life. Expath serves individuals as well as some of Germany’s most successful tech firms.
In addition to her work with Expath, Tia also serves as the Mentorship Program Coordinator for Girls Gearing Up (GGU). She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and French from Purdue University, spent one year studying at the Universite Paul-Valery in Montpellier, France, and holds a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics and a TESOL Certificate from the University of Pittsburgh. Tia belongs to the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), English Language Teacher’s Association Berlin-Brandenburg (ELTABB), and PANDA, a Women’s Leadership Network. Tia’s previous roles include serving as the Head of Operations for the Pedagogical Department at Learnship, the Senior Training Manager at Educom, and an English as a Second/Foreign Language teacher.
What Tia hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Tia looks forward to expanding her knowledge and connections across the globe, by listening to women from different industries and backgrounds than her own.
What Tia can offer other fellows:
Tia can offer her expertise on online trainings, teacher trainings, managing organic growth, supervising employees and human resources.
Connect with Tia on Social Media:
LinkedIn (business): https://www.linkedin.com/company/expath
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/tiahardyrobinson/
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/expath.de
2021 Fellow, Owner, Suzanne George Shoes
Owner of Suzanne George Shoes (SGS) since 1994, Suzanne and her production team create entirely hand crafted, made-to-measure, custom designed wares for men and women. Her biomechanically specific footwear is constructed for individuals with a wide range of medical, congenital, and hard-to-fit issues (including a safe, creative option for transgender clients and veterans) who are unable to successfully purchase from the commercially available market. She incorporates her passion of collecting rare skins, bygone shoe findings, and treasured decorative accents, and merges the intersection of fit, function and aesthetic in a rigorously honed process of creating one-of-a-kind footwear from every product category. In 2020, SGS expanded its reach by introducing a layered value, “sole read” slip-on with undercover action-packed aspects in varying customization tiers. This amalgam style naturally compliments the made-to-measure, one-off service evolved over almost three decades of addressing individual client needs. Working with her unique fit methodology, Suzanne believes this singular style can reach a larger audience with footwear that synthesizes individualized fit features, targeted modifiable design elements, and signature components to bridge a gap in the marketplace and promote a whole-body system that supports and stabilizes foot function. She plans to train a passionate team of underrepresented individuals, many of whom were previously considered unemployable due to varying degrees of health concerns, in a work culture that incorporates the unpredictable nature of medical and other challenging life conditions. Her new “sole read” line brings mind, spirit, and society together, promoting a deeper consideration of total well-being with a circular model that interfaces the product, wearer, makers, and all involved in an interdependent fashion framework for good health and beautiful living. In addition to its primary product lines, SGS offers consultation services to assist clients without industry experience in moving from concept to product development and prototyping. SGS also consults on and produces footwear for performances, fashion editorials, runway, television, and film. Suzanne attended Cordwainers Technical College in London, completed various footwear construction and fitting apprenticeships, and holds a Bachelors in Interpersonal Relations from the University of California Santa Barbara. She studied Counseling Psychology and worked within the for- and non-profit arenas in the business, social services, and education sectors as an instructor, consultant, project manager, and volunteer. Over the past many years, Suzanne has taken great pleasure in assisting those with complex illnesses find a path to healing.
2021 Fellow, Founder and CEO, Strawcture ECO
Shriti is the Founder and CEO of Strawcture Eco, a green building material and service company that manufactures bio-based drywall, flooring, and ceiling panels. Strawcture Eco’s panels are made from renewable natural fibers and non-formaldehyde-based resin, formulated from raw materials, such as bagasse, wheat straw, and rice husk. Their panels serve as a sustainable alternative to cement, brick, engineered wood and plasterboard. By using raw materials, Strawcture Eco is helping to reduce the 140 million tons of agricultural-fiber that goes to waste each year in India. In the last two years they have sequestered 500 tons of carbon, with a goal of reducing 50% of India’s embodied carbon in the building sector by 2050. Shriti holds a Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering from Uttar Pradesh Technical University and a Masters in Construction Management from New York University. Her expertise is in strategic planning, business development, and designing. Shriti is a 2020 Echoing Green Fellow and a 2020 Acumen Fellow. She belongs to the Indian Women Social Entrepreneur Network (IWSEN), Aspen Leadership Network, leap.club network, and the Calcutta Incubation Network. Previously, Shriti worked as a Project Management Consultant for VJ Associates in New York City and was an SBI Foundation Rural Fellow.
2021 Fellow, Founder and Managing Director, Pamir Trading Company
Shodigul is the Founder and Managing Director of two food security focused companies, the Pamir Trading Company and the Products of the Pamirs Co. Shodigul has built the first and so far, the only cold storage facility in the Pamir Region of Tajikistan, which is an isolated mountain region. Before Pamir Trading Company, mountain communities in this region were previously unable to afford fruits and vegetables during the off-season or properly store them. Pamir Trading Company offers products and services to ameliorate these difficulties by buying produce when it is in season, storing it properly, and selling their products at affordable prices during the offseason. The company’s products and services help to ensure that people in the region are able to eat nutritious food all year-long. Shodigul holds a Master’s of Science in Environmental Science and Policy from Northern Arizona University and Bachelor of Arts in History and Law from Khorog State University. Shodigul has over 15 years’ experience working with various national and international organization in Tajikistan, Switzerland, and the United States. In addition to all that Shodigul is the member of the WORLD WOMEN International Successful Women Club and a member of the Tajikistan Successful Women Club. Her expertise is in disaster risk management, food security, and agribusiness.
What Shodigul hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Shodigul is looking forward to growing her business management skills as well as connecting to a range of professionals and expanding her network.
What Shodigul can offer other fellows:
Shodigul can offer her expertise on food security and the agricultural sector in Central Asia and Afghanistan, a climate change related risk assessment for other fellows’ businesses and brainstorming on mitigation and adaptation measures for avoiding business disturbances and closures. She is also happy to help facilitate connections for other fellows who may be interested in expanding their businesses into Central Asia.
Connect with Shodigul on Social Media:
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/shodigul-mamadyorbekova-47358838/
2021 Fellow, Founder and CEO, Elegant Lady - Khanem
Shapol Majid is the Founder and CEO of Elegant Lady – Khanem, a lingerie styling store that is guided by a “by women for women” philosophy. Elegant Lady – Khanem aims to provide a secure, discrete, and personalized shopping experience so their customers can feel safe in a woman-friendly environment. In their shop, women can buy high-quality, well-fitting garments without feeling intimidated or spied upon. They are committed to employing women throughout the entire chain, from design and production to sales. In order to ensure that women’s empowerment is at the center of their line of products, Elegant Lady – Khanem conducts research to ensure that their suppliers support and share their values. Elegant Lady – Khanem is run by an all-female staff and makes sure that all staff members are fairly paid and can be economically independent. Beyond supporting their staff and customers, Elegant Lady – Khanem has plans to expand and develop a clothing factory in Sulaymaniyah to further support their immediate community. These plans have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the age of 16, Shapol fled to the Netherlands as a refugee from Iraq. She felt grateful to be in a country and a system that protected her as a refugee, but always felt a strong connection to her home city of Salymania. Shapol became acutely aware of the absence of women in politics, and the obstacles that women in Iraqi society face. This led her to create Elegant Lady – Khanem, a company centered on providing women with a safe space they can feel empowered and comfortable. Shapol holds a Bachelors in Middle Eastern Studies from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and a Masters in International Law from the University of East London. In 2019, Shapol founded the Women’s Economic Empowerment Organization to break down gender gaps and contribute to emancipation and empowerment for women in the Middle East. Shapol has experience and expertise in starting new businesses, community development, market research, and human resources management.
What Shapol hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Shapol hopes to connect and exchange ideas with other women entrepreneurs to learn from their various experiences. She also hopes to expand her network with other women around the world who are involved in textile production in order to expand her market reach.
What Shapol can offer other fellows:
Shapol can offer her skills and knowledge in importing, exporting, and European Union policy on doing business in the Middle East.
Connect with Shapol on Social Media:
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/shapol-majid/
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/khanemstore
Twitter (business): https://twitter.com/khanemstore
Instagram (business): https://www.instagram.com/khanemstore/
2021 Fellow, Founding CEO, She is Arab
Samar is the Founding CEO of She is Arab, a platform dedicated to connecting and enabling professional Arab women by building an active and collaborative community and offering a range of customized services and opportunities for their growth, development and increased representation. She is Arab is on a mission to magnify the impact and achievements of Arab women, in order to create a world where they are represented equally in the global economy. Their signature service is the Speakers Bureau, a platform through which organizations can identify and work with Arab women speakers for their events. In addition, She is Arab provides professional development and networking opportunities as well as advisory services on gender inequality to corporations, governments and foundations. As She is Arab enters its second year, they hope to build a community of professional Arab women, enhance the representation of women in business leadership positions, in the media and at speaking events, tap into and capitalize on the pool of underutilized professional women, and improve the ecosystem surrounding Arab women in the workplace. Samar also serves as the Advisor to the Chairman and is a Board Member of Farm Food for Food Industries and is a member of the Young Arab Leaders network and the Dubai Business Women Council. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the American University in Cairo, a SHE Leads Certificate from the Swedish Institute, and has completed a Data Analysis for Management online course with the London School of Economics, and a Digital Transformation: Platform Strategies for Success course from MIT. Most recently, Samar was featured on the ‘Arab Power List 2021’ by Arab Business magazine. Samar’s expertise is in business development, partnerships and project management. She is passionate about women’s economic empowerment, youth, policy reform, education, and social impact.
What Samar hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Samar is looking forward to gaining the knowledge and skills needed to grow her business and is eager to expand her network outside of the Middle East. She hopes to learn how other fellows have achieved profitability, built successful teams, and have digitized and pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also would love to know about other fellows’ experiences with membership networks or platform business models.
What Samar can offer other fellows:
Samar is happy to facilitate introductions or give guidance on the start-up community in the UAE and the MENA region.
Connect with Samar on Social Media:
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/samar-alshorafa-a5a13a5/
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/sheisarab
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/samar.alshorafa
Twitter (business): https://twitter.com/sheisarab
Twitter (personal): https://twitter.com/SamarAlshorafa
Instagram (business): https://www.instagram.com/sheisarab_/
Instagram (personal): https://www.instagram.com/samaralshorafa/
2021 Fellow, Managing Director, RENA Beverage Solution Ltd
Regina is the Managing Director for RENA Beverage Solution, a beverage company that produces organic health restoring beverages that when taken regularly, help to refresh, detoxify, boost immunity and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. RENA Beverage Solution’s product line includes hibiscus juices, herbal teas, wines, fruit concentrates, and sanitizers. Their products are catered to health-conscious individuals interested in preventing nutrition-related diseases, as well as individuals with cardiovascular diseases who are in need of organic food supplements.
Regina holds a Diploma in Education from the Institute of Teacher Education at Kyambogo University, a Bachelor of Adult and Community Education from Makerere University, and a Master of Business Administration from the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI). Regina has experience with strategic and business planning, marketing and market research, business management, program planning, management monitoring and evaluation, training program development, training/facilitating, entrepreneurship, and microfinance. She belongs to the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Ltd. (UWEAL), Markerere University Food Science Department, and the Uganda Manufacturers Association (USSIA). Prior to her work with RENA Beverage Solution, Regina was a Lecturer on Entrepreneurship, Gender, and Microfinance at Kyambogo University.
What Regina hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Regina is excited to expand her network and hopes to connect with other professionals and business women in the agro processing sector. She is eager to learn more about export markets, attracting buyers, access to capital, strategies for addressing business challenges, and building a productive and competent team.
What Regina can offer other fellows:
Regina is happy to share her experiences with and offer mentoring on product development, market research, marketing, partnerships and managing a family business.
Connect with Regina on Social Media:
2021 Fellow, Partner, Andersen in Jordan
Rasha is a partner at Andersen in Jordan, a civil and corporate law firm that provides a wide range of legal, corporate, commercial, cross border, intellectual property, and tax and other related consulting services. Andersen in Jordan pride themselves on their dedication to their clients, and the hard work they put into ensuring that even the smallest details are treated with care. The attorneys at Andersen Tax and Legal Jordan bring experience, energy, diligence, and the ability to work in both Arabic and English. Rasha holds a Bachelors degree in Law from the University of Jordan and a Masters in International Trade from the Institute of Diplomacy. She is a member of the Jordanian Bar Association, Business and Professional Women Association (BPWA), and the Jordan Forum for Business and Professional Women (JFBPWA). Rasha was previously a partner at Zalloum and Laswi Law Firm, before it became Andersen in Jordan, and the Legal Director at Orange Jordan.
2021 Fellow, Founder and CEO, The Lavender Spaceship Project
Pranati is the Founder and CEO of the Lavender Spaceship Project, an online STEM learning platform for young girls. Their vision is to create a generation of STEM ready girls and help reduce the gender gap in the field. With their online platform, The Lavender Spaceship Project offers girls ages 7-16 personalized classes based on age, level of exposure and areas of interest. Their curriculum covers coding, robotics, digital design and engineering. The platform also connects girls to women role models in STEM in order to build their interest and instill confidence. In addition to these programs, the Lavender Spaceship Project collaborates with corporations and non-profit organizations that aim to democratize STEM education and help reduce the gender gap in STEM fields. Pranati is experienced in curriculum design, education technology, primary school education, and business planning and operations. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics, a Master of Science in Mathematics from HNB Garhwal University, and a Master of Education in Elementary Education from Rutgers University. She serves as a Board Member and Lead for Youth Initiatives for the Singapore chapter of Girls in Tech, and is involved in United Women Singapore.
2021 Fellow, CEO, Fan/Joy
Pam is an award-winning Chef, Chopped Canada Champion and Clinical Social Worker and Founder of Fan/Joy, a culinary social enterprise that is cooking up change that lasts a lifetime. Using food to provide life skills training, mental health and educational programs, Fan/Joy is committed to eliminating social isolation, poverty and food insecurity across all life stages. Fan/Joy is fulfilling their mission with the launch of their new, revolutionary Culinary, Counselling & Training Center where Pam’s innovative culinary therapy model is feeding connection with their Junior Chef Life Skills Programs. Particularly well suited for youth who might not otherwise think to go into counselling, Fan/Joy brings youth into the kitchen whisking up delicious recipes that help them solve complex life problems by developing critical life skills such as effective communication, cooperation, and collaboration through education and mentorship. For ‚Äòtransitional aged youth,’ Fan/Joy also believes in the strong foundation necessary to support parents so that they can be the core, compassionate, vital resource for their teens that they want to be as they prepare them for greater independence. Pam envisions a world where individuals feed connection to reach their full potential to live more healthy and joyful lives, sustainably and thus she is revolutionizing how mental health services are delivered to high-risk youth. Fan/Joy’s programs allow teens to develop fundamental pre-employment skills, improve their problem-solving, and build healthier relationships that will ultimately improve their physical and mental health through this engaging and delicious alternative to traditional ‘talk therapies.’ Pam’s own personal mission to foster joyful, healthy relationships by using food to facilitate meaningful connection between others to nourish their bodies, minds, and souls has led to the development of an integrative business model that delivers practical education and therapy and all the while destigmatizing mental health services, lowering the risk of homelessness, and poverty from unemployment. Pam has also developed a circular food economy within the organization and created a social impact fund that will use a percentage of its profits from sales to fund youth who cannot otherwise afford to attend the Junior Chef Fundamentals courses. Pam founded Fan/Joy in 2012 while attending culinary school for fun, running her full-time private practice and founding Chestnut Collaborative Solutions, an interdisciplinary collaborative law center serving families undergoing separation and divorce. Pam is a proud member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce for LGBTQ business owners and a recently announced SheEO Canadian Venture for 2021/2022. She holds a Masters in Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Culinary Management Degree from George Brown College.
2021 Fellow, Founder and CEO, Dumot Renewable Green Technology
Oluwatoyin is the Founder and CEO of Dumot Renewable Green Technology, an energy company that provides clean renewable solar energy services in Lagos, Nigeria. Dumot Renewable Green Technology provides solar installation, lifetime technology maintenance, 24/7 customer support, and solar consultation. As a company, they are dedicated to combatting the use of fossil fuels and protecting the planet by promoting renewable energy alternatives to fossil fuels at an affordable price. Oluwatoyin recognizes that solar power is emerging as a power supply technology and is committed to innovation and growth in renewable energy across the country. She is passionate about helping small and medium-sized enterprises stay in business and save money by replacing costly generators with affordable solar energy systems; solving the problem of unstable power supply in Nigeria which leads many businesses to close down and is a major source of unemployment, poverty, crime, and hardship in the country. Oluwatoyin aspires to contribute to the social and environmental development of Nigeria by improving access to modern, reliable, clean and affordable electricity, especially to those living in rural areas, by providing basic necessities such as light, water and energy. Dumot Renewable Green Technology hopes to bring more women onboard to train as the company grows and wants to empower them to help their communities. Oluwatoyin believes that renewable energy is the key for many rural communities to overcome challenges they face due to unstable and inconsistent access to power. She is currently working on building an affordable solar system to make renewable solar energy more affordable and accessible. Oluwatoyin formerly worked as a Banker for Fidelity Bank PLC and as a Consultant at LandWey Investment Limited. Her expertise is in project management, business analysis, and marketing.
What Oluwatoyin hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Oluwatoyin hopes to gain more support in her efforts to make solar energy more accessible and affordable to rural communities. She also hopes to find new mentors and role models while strengthening her network to women business leaders all over the world.
What Oluwatoyin can offer other fellows:
Oluwatoyin can offer other fellows her skills in effective communication, motivation, and team problem solving.
Connect with Oluwatoyin on Social Media:
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/Dumot-Renewable-Green-Technology-105024474640911
2021 Fellow, CEO, Hydren Energy Limited
Oluremi is the CEO of Hydren Energy, a designer and provider of safe and durable solar solutions and mobile solar generators for small businesses and homeowners in Nigeria. Hydren’s vision is to see homes and small businesses enjoy a 24/7 electricity supply using renewable energy sources. They aim to provide quality solar solutions tailored to their customers’ needs through proper energy audits and product specification. Hydren Energy’s services for homeowners include solar solutions to power appliances for 24 hours and solar streetlights for people’s properties and communities. For those who cannot afford their solar solutions, Hydren offers their Solar Home Systems. For small businesses they offer solar solutions which guarantee a 12-hour power supply, provide storage batteries for inverters, distribute energy efficient lighting, and offer their mobile solar generators. In addition to these services, Hydren Energy offers mini-grid solutions for rural communities and microgrid solutions for markets and shopping malls. With their solar-powered energy solutions, businesses and homeowners save money on fueling generators and paying grid suppliers, as well as avoid operational downtime due to unavailable power supply. Oluremi holds a Bachelor of Technology in Electronics from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, a Masters of Business Administration from Obafemi Awolowo University, and a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management from the Enterprise Development Centre at the Pan Atlantic University. Oluremi is on the Board of both Techwomen Association Nigeria and the Nigerian Chapter of Association of Energy Engineers (AEE). She also belongs to the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN), where she serves on the Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, the Nigerian Society of Engineers, and Women in Renewable Energy Association. Oluremi is a Tony Elumelu Foundation fellow, a TechWomen fellow and an alum of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.
2021 Fellow, Owner and Product Developer, Manotas Ltd.
Nancy is the Owner and Product Developer at Manotas, a company that offers organic wholesome Latin American foods that support the health and longevity of their customers. Manotas uses high quality ingredients and authentic recipes inspired by the ancient culinary traditions of Spain, and Central and South America with the goal of offering healthy, simple and wholesome foods. Their line of products include guacamole, salsas, arepas, empanadas, Spanish rices, soup extracts, pure butter puff pastries, as well as vegan and gluten free options. Beyond offering culinary products, Manotas’ vision is to help their clients of all ages improve their health and wellbeing. They do this by studying ingredients, it’s nutrients and their effects on the different systems of the body on a daily basis. Expanding on their research on individual ingredients and food processes, Manotas also works on the fermentation of staple foods such as wheat, buckwheat and spelt to create unique breads and pizza doughs, that include ingredients like spirulina, which are critical to maintaining a healthy body. This process increases nutrient content in these foods as well as improves their ability to be digested without necessitating adopting a gluten free diet. Nancy’s passion is in the health and longevity of individuals and she embeds these values in the development of Manotas’ vision and products. Nancy hopes to grow Manotas to introduce their healthy food products to a wider market and provide healthier food options in public places such as train stations, airports, stadiums, and other family venues. She is currently working on her first high traffic venue at Union Station in Toronto to change the category from fast food to healthy super food on the go. Nancy holds a Bachelors in Psychology from York University in Pennsylvania and has also studied at the Universidad del Norte Barranquilla and the University of Toronto.
2021 Fellow, General Manager, Riyada for Social Innovation
Mona is the General Manager of Riyada for Social Innovation, a social enterprise that offers youth programs, corporate trainings, and consulting services on social innovation and entrepreneurship. Riyada’s primary programs are their youth innovation programs and their e-learning platform for high school students, Shabab Lab. These programs aim to equip youth with social innovation skills consisting of digital technology, entrepreneurship and community engagement, while also connecting them with a helpful network. Riyada also offers corporate-sponsored innovation, mentorship and coaching programs as well as business development services to small and medium-sized enterprises. Mona holds a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering and a Masters in Engineering Management from the American University of Beirut and a PhD in Management from the University of Leicester. She belongs to the Lebanese League for Women in Business, She Entrepreneurs, the UNLEASH Community, and the U.S. Department of State alumni network. Mona’s expertise is in technology, education, management, and entrepreneurship.
2021 Fellow, CEO, The GLOW Brands LLC
Markette is the CEO of The Glow Brands, LLC, a communications consulting company with a specialization in content marketing. The Glow Brands’ flagship enterprise is Glow Stream TV, which acts as a Home Shopping Network (HSN) for socially conscious women’s lifestyle brands. Glow Stream TV includes a blog, a video streaming service where businesses can pay to have their marketing videos streamed, and an e-commerce shop. The company aims to be a resource for women who are looking to become more informed, enlightened consumers and global citizens, while also being an outlet for like-minded brands to reach audiences through branded partnerships and integrated marketing opportunities. Markette holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from California State University Dominguez Hills and a Master of Arts in Interactive Journalism from American University. Prior to launching The Glow Brands LLC, Markette served as the Vice President for Marketing, PR & Digital at Signal Financial and was a broadcast journalist for the CBS affiliate in Washington. She is experienced in communications (both writing and digital media), video production, and creating and executing content marketing plans.
2021 Fellow, Founder and CEO, CreAZ
Mariejoe is the Founder and CEO of CreAZ, a branding agency specialized in scalable, reliable, fast and quality branding solutions. CreAZ uses conventional branding techniques with AI technology to optimize results for customers, while minimizing time. Their services include branding, advertising, marketing, website design, publishing, hosting, and launching, social media, photography, videography, animation, publication design, print production, market research, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), and exceptional support from their reliable team of experts. CreAZ offers small and medium-sized enterprises the opportunity to “rent their brand”, which allows businesses to pay a small daily fee‚Äîequivalent to the price of a coffee‚Äîfor branding services, rather than having to pay a larger cost up-front for services. CreAz is also preparing to launch a new “virtual office” service that will allow businesses to rent a virtual workspace in Paris for the price of one coffee a day. Mariejoe holds a Bachelors in Graphic Design with a Minor in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut, and a Masters of Business Administration in Brand Management and Marketing from INSEEC Paris. She was a 2007 Vital Voices Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership mentee and belongs to the Lebanese League for Women in Business (LLWB), Child of Lebanon, and the American Chamber of Commerce. Prior to launching CreAz, Mariejoe served as the Creative Director at Raidy Printing Group in Beirut, the Lead Writer for Cedar Wings Inflight Magazine, as a lecturer on Graphic Print Product at University Saint Joseph, and an angel investor and partner with several startups around the globe. Mariejoe’s expertise is in branding, brand development, team leadership, business management, new technologies and consultancy.
Maria Jose Sanchez de Ruiz
2021 Fellow, CEO, Zaxy Guatemala
Maria Jose is the CEO of Zaxy Guatemala, a shoe company that sells fashionable, affordable, and ecological jelly shoes. Zaxy Guatemala sells 100% recycled and vegan shoes for women, children, and babies that are manufactured in Brazil from recycled raw material with renewable energy. Zaxy Guatemala has also created the #ZaxyEntrepreneur program, where women are empowered to start their own business as independent distributors, sharing part of Zaxy Guatemala’s profits. Maria Jose is also a commercial real estate agent and life coach, with an expertise in marketing, sales, and customer service. She holds a Bachelors in Communication from the Universidad Rafael Landivar. In 2018 she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Going through this painful process, she can say it has made her a better woman. In search of healing, she began pursuing a postgraduate degree in Integrated Psychological Coaching at the University of Nebrija, Spain. In 2021, she began a specialization in Mindfulness in Argentina and is completing the “Science of Well Being” online course from Yale University. Today, she has made it a personal mission to communicate the importance of mental health and finding balance in your life.
2021 Fellow, Founder and Managing Partner, PlayGround
Manal is the Founder and Managing Partner of Milbes & Eid, a provider of family-based entertainment services in Jordan. Milbes & Eid’s services promote children’s social and emotional development and promote healthy family relations by providing stimulating early childhood experiences. They offer full consultancy services from concept development, to design and fabrication, to installation and management. Their largest service is offered through their brand HYPE, which involves designing and organizing family-oriented events for malls and large retail businesses. These events are designed to increase foot traffic to businesses, while offering families enriching experiences. In addition to this service, Milbes & Eid has an indoor play area where they host and organize birthday parties, events, and playdates. Manal holds a Bachelor in Architecture from the University of Jordan and a Higher Diploma in Child Education from Open Arab University. She belongs to the Business Professional Women Association (BPWA), Jordan Engineering Association, and 6 Seconds Network for EQ Women in Business Arabia. Manal’s expertise is in business management, accounting, financial analysis, sales, PR design, and development.
2021 Fellow, Founder and CEO, Lucenti
Lucienne is the Founder and Chief Strategist of Lucenti, a strategic positioning firm that creates and deploys innovative strategies to help companies solve challenging problems and discover new opportunities. Lucenti leverages its expertise in communications, reputation management, public relations, branding and social media intelligence to advance their client’s goals. They offer strategic positioning, consulting services, crisis management services, communications, public relations and social listening services. Lucenti leverages data for their clients to learn from stakeholders, provide insights into what is important to them and why, and creates programs to impact, support and drive change. Lucienne and Lucenti seek to drive change by substituting advertising dollars for community investment dollars, resulting in a triple bottom line to its stakeholders, as employees are more loyal and clients become advocates. Lucienne, who started her career as a reporter, previously held senior positions in marketing, public relations and communications for a public financial services company where she developed numerous successful corporate social responsibility platforms, including “Women of Success,” which created more than 40 new women-owned businesses and over 70 new jobs. Lucienne has created more than 10 women economic development programs throughout her career, including Animus, the largest women’s economic development platform for Latinas. At Animus’ annual event, Lucienne has interviewed key leaders and trailblazers including Justice Sonia Sotomayor, EGOT winner and icon Rita Moreno and Olympic Gold medalist Monica Puig. Lucienne has received more than 50 awards, including the American Banking Association’s “Social Impact Award,” SME’s “Top Management Award” and PR News’ “Community Relations Professional of the Year”. The Puerto Rico Senate Commission on Women Issues has also recognized Lucienne for her achievements. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Business from Tulane University and has completed executive studies at The Wharton School. Lucienne is a member of Golden Seeds, Association Hecho in Puerto Rico (Made in Puerto Rico), Women Empowered Puerto Rico, and has served as a board member of the Council on the Environment of New York City. She is also an alumna of the Vital Voices Global Ambassadors Program (GAP) from the 2019 program in Puerto Rico.
Lidia Million Tefera
2021 Fellow, Founder, CEO & Designer, LiNu Manufacturing PLC
Lidia Tefera is the Founder, CEO, and Designer of LiNu Manufacturing PLC, a leather manufacturing company located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that produces ethically sourced leather goods including bags, belts, wallets and industrial gloves for local and international markets. LiNu also provides free training to marginalized women on how to make leather jewelry and other leather accessories. Lidia is devoted to providing training for women migrants and refugees, since their economic opportunities are scarce and limited. Linu has offered employment to over 40 of the individuals who participated in their trainings, providing them with mentorship opportunities and investments into their new business ideas. Over eighty percent of Linu employees are women, as Lidia believes that to empower women is to empower the nation. Lidia is a board member of the Ethiopia Leather Association (ELA) and the Alliance of African Women Entrepreneurs (AAWE). Lidia holds a Bachelors of Computer Science and is an expert in marketing, management, leadership, and distribution.
2021 Fellow, CEO, Patient Orator
Kistein is the CEO of Patient Orator, a digital health startup that helps chronically ill and undeserved patients document their medical problems in a way that addresses mistrust between underrepresented communities and healthcare professionals. Through their HIPAA compliant app, Patient Orator allows patients to store their medical symptoms securely, share them in real-time with caregivers, and record their interaction with their medical team to help foster greater post-discharge care. Through this app, Patient Orator removes the anxiety that a patient faces that causes negative cognitive emotions leading to poor communication in healthcare delivery settings. Patient Orator also has a video blog site that educates the public on their health care rights by raising awareness regarding health inequalities and educating the public on healthcare rights. Kistein is also the award-winning documentarian behind “Humanizing Health Care”, a narrative-driven, emotionally paced film about healthcare experiences in the United States. Kistein places equity, diversity, and inclusion at the heart of her work, and it is her top priority to ensure everyone is well-informed on how to navigate the healthcare system. Her experience in the industry positions her perfectly to pave the way for a nation of informed individuals and eventually humanize healthcare in the United States. She has worked in patient and health care services as a Service Coordinator, connecting low-income individuals to health care services; a Nursing Assistant, providing care to New Yorkers as part of the frontline care team; and a Home Health Manager, where she managed a team of home health aides in delivering optimal care to the elderly. Kistein holds a Bachelors from Queens College in New York and Masters in Public Administration from Long Island University. Kistein is a nationally known public health and patient advocate.
2021 Fellow, Owner, Mount Horeb Hemp LLC
Kattia is the Owner of Mount Horeb Hemp LLC, a USDA certified organic hemp farm. Mount Horeb Hemp is breathing new life into the agricultural industry by growing organic hemp and developing products that improve natural wellbeing. Mount Horeb Hemp’s line of products include Full Spectrum CBD tinctures, CBD muscle cream, hemp flower soaps, and hemp flower CBD pre-rolls. Kattia sees limitless potential for the emerging hemp industry in Wisconsin and has used her business as a vehicle to promote economic empowerment in rural communities. Kattia believes that the hemp industry can revitalize Wisconsin’s rural communities and be a tool for empowering communities of color. She regularly invites community leaders and members to visit the farm and educate her community on Hemp and its potential to create generational wealth for non-traditional farmers, while also improving wellbeing. Kattia holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Washington and is a member of the Hemp Industries Association, Wisconsin Farmers Union, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, and the Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce. She is a host of the Hemp Can Do It podcast and is a guest lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural & Life Sciences. Kattia has spent the majority of her career working in public health and has expertise in project management, strategic planning, and marketing.
2021 Fellow, Senior Marketing Strategist and Co-Founder, WOM GP
Karla is the Co-Founder and Senior Marketing Strategist at WOM GP, a digital marketing agency that works with B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-customer) clients. WOM GP offers web development and programming services, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) strategy, strategic brand planning, e-commerce, and social media, email and content marketing. WOM GP’s mission is to provide high quality, personalized, reliable services to every client to produce visible results and a positive return on investment. Karla holds a Bachelors degree in Marketing with a specialization in Marketing and Communication from the University ITESM, Tec de Monterrey. Karla has been working in digital marketing for the last ten years and has experience with creating webinars, personal development coaching for entrepreneurs, publishing business articles, social media and online marketing. She is a member of Business Network International (BNI) Jalisco.
2021 Fellow, Founder, Professional Advancements Resources
Jaklin is the Founder of Professional Advancement Resources (PAR), a learning and development consultancy established to provide specialized solutions to human capital development and professional advancement. Since 2011, PAR has offered corporate training, coaching, and mentoring to corporate companies, government offices, professional organizations, and university students who are keen to develop themselves. PAR also provides individual coaching for personal growth and career advancement. Their training sessions are designed for accelerated learning, giving participants the best opportunity to achieve their goals. Working with staff at corporations, whether it is a one-on-one session or a group of sales employees, all of PAR’s sessions are customized to suit specific corporate learning needs to advance personal and professional development. PAR also supports underserved communities in Peninsular Malaysia and women and youth in rural Borneo through The Learning Alliance (TLA), Malaysia and Athena REACH. PAR co-founded TLA to provide high value learning opportunities for current and aspiring social entrepreneurs, enablers and beneficiary communities. TLA aims to provide a global online learning platform where social entrepreneurs from around the world can share best practices. Since, PAR’s partnership with The Athena REACH has provided programming, customized training, coaching and mentoring for rural women’s economic empowerment and rural women entrepreneurs’ development in Borneo. Jaklin holds a Bachelor of Science in Statistics from the National University of Malaysia, an Instructional Design certification from Ma Foi Academy in India, and an Image and Professional Development Consultancy Certification from the London Image Institute in the UK. In addition to founding Professional Advancement Resources, Jaklin is the co-founder of The Learning Alliance Malaysia and Sooper KOL, the President of the Malaysia chapter of the Association of Image Consultants International, a member of the Chamber of Social Enterprise Development, and the Learning and Development Director at Athena Holdings. She has expertise in image and professional development consultancy, instructional design, and employee development.
Irma Breton Solis
2021 Fellow, CEO, Avance Empresarial
Irma is the CEO of Avance Empresarial, a clothing and uniform manufacturing company that produces tailored executive uniforms, industrial uniforms, corporate attire and promotional textiles. Avance Empresarial also offers a promotional line that includes office supplies and accessories. They work to provide their clients with the best suited textiles and uniforms for their business by working with them throughout the manufacturing process. Irma holds a degree in Industrial Engineering, a Masters in Administration, and a Graduate Diploma in Marketing from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), a Diploma in Strategic Marketing and International Business from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), as well as a Diploma in Interior Design and Executive Coaching ICT. Irma belongs to WEConnect International, Eriem, and Asociacion de Mujeres Empresarias.
What Irma hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Irma is looking to learn new business and leadership skills, build connections, and gain clarity on her business’s goals. She is hoping that the program will provide her with a different perspective on Avance Empresarial that will allow her to grow the company and achieve her business goals.
What Irma can offer other fellows:
Irma can share her skills, knowledge, expertise and contacts. She has experience with marketing, finance, strategizing, and business negotiations and management.
Connect with Irma on Social Media:
2021 Fellow, Managing Director, Amela Pharmacy
Ime is the Managing Director at Amela Pharmacy, a retail and wholesale pharmaceutical outlet that provides quality drugs and healthcare services. Amela Pharmacy has five branches and is dedicated to promoting health, well-being, and economic empowerment by providing quality prescription and non-prescription drugs to their customers and through pharmaceutical training programs for Pharmacist interns, Pharmaceutical technicians, and National Youth Service Corps Members. These training programs work to teach the importance of alleviating poverty and improving the standard of living for the community as a whole. Ime holds a Bachelors from the University of Benin and a Masters from the University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State. She is a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and the International Federation of Pharmacists (FIP), a chairperson in the Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPS), a Fellow at the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and a member of WE Connect International. Ime’s expertise is in strategic planning, business management, and marketing.
2021 Fellow, COO and Co-Founder, BigCheese
Florencia is the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of BigCheese, a company that builds and operates tailor-made software solutions for clients. Their services include DevOps and SRE consulting, AWS consulting and implementation, support with Geographical Information Systems, and individualized software solutions including the development of management systems and app development. BigCheese prides itself on building trusting relationships with clients and working with them as a team to design strategic solutions. Florencia holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science from the Universidad de la Rep√∫blica Uruguay and is a Certified AWS Cloud Practitioner and Alexa Skill Builder from Amazon. In addition to BigCheese, Florencia is a Professor of Data Structures and Algorithms 2 at the Universidad ORT Uruguay and the Co-Managing Director of the Uruguayan Chapter of Girls in Tech. Florencia is experienced in operational management, team leadership, agile planning, and business management.
2021 Fellow, CEO, Retyredglam
Favour is the CEO of Retyreglam, a company that designs and sells unique ecofriendly furniture made from recycled tires. Favour is dedicated to promoting sustainability and climate action through responsible consumption. Retyreglam’s line of products include center tables, chairs, mirrors, vases, stools, and coffee tables that all share Retyreglam’s unique style and design that distinguishes them from their competition. Retyreglam employs a resourceful business model that benefits the community by reducing the number of tires that end up in the streets of Abuja and in incinerators to be burnt. Favour’s passion is transforming waste into art, and Retyreglam allows her to help her community while also creating artistic, functional, and unique furniture. Favour has a Bachelors in Soil Science and Agronomy from the Federal University of Technology Minna.
2021 Fellow, Founder and Creative Director, Trendy N Vogue Apparel
Faridah Hamzat is the Founder and Creative Director of Trendy N Vogue Apparel, a clothing company that designs and produces Afrocentric clothing and accessories for women and children. Trendy N Vogue Apparel is an alternative to imported clothing that maintains a balance between Western designs and Afro-centric culture and fashion style. Additionally, Trendy N Vogue Apparel provides skills training and employment to women in the community who often live-in unfavorable conditions, have little or no access to education, or face cultural barriers to making a livelihood and supporting their family. Faridah is committed to promoting economic inclusion for women and girl’s education through Trendy N Vogue Apparel. Faridah holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in Economics from the Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, Nigeria. She also serves as the Co-founder and Vice President of the Association of Northern Women Entrepreneurs (ANWE), the Co-founder and Principal Consultant of the Sustainable Impact Hub, and the State Coordinator for the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP). Faridah acts as a role model for many women and youth in Sokoto State and wants to use her knowledge and experience to grow her business, employ more staff, impact her community, and provide a platform for training and business development for women and youth.
2021 Fellow, Managing Director East Africa, Sistema.bio
Esther is the Managing Director East Africa of Sistema.bio, the leading biogas company in Kenya and globally that manufactures, sells, distributes and finances biodigesters that transform animal waste into clean cooking fuel and biofertilizer for smallholder farmers around the world. Through their work, Sistema.bio seeks to address climate change, food insecurity and women’s empowerment by providing smallholder farmers with technology, capacity-building and financing. Though smallholder farmers produce 80% of the world’s food, they systematically lack access to technology, capacity-building and financing to improve and grow their farms. Sistema.bio offers a waste management solution to farmers that eliminates time-consuming and unsustainable fuel sources and chemical fertilizers from their farms. This is replaced with renewable energy (biogas) and nutrient-rich organic fertilizer that nourishes the soils for long term crop yield. Their mission is to create value from waste, as they dream of a sustainable, equitable and empathetic world without waste. Sistema.bio has developed a turnkey product, services and financing package for farmers in Latin America, East Africa and India. Esther joined Sistema.bio when she was 25 years old, and quickly rose to executive positions as the company grew and expanded. Previously, Esther served as Finance Manager, Finance Director, and Chief Operations Officer at Sistema.bio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economy, History and Political Science, a Masters of Finance and Strategy in International Business from Sciences Po Paris and a Masters in International Affairs from the University of St. Gallen. Esther has expertise in business management, growth, problem solving, and corporate finance.
2021 Fellow, CEO, The East African Bang Media House
Emelda is the CEO of BANG! Magazine, a boutique print and online magazine dedicated to professional women. The magazine offers in-depth stories that empower, inspire, and celebrate African woman’s diverse accomplishments in all spheres including politics, business and finance, fashion and beauty, health and wellbeing, parenting and more. BANG! Stands for Beautiful African Natural Goddess and its motto is to ‘Believe And Never Give up!” and the featured articles showcase the best of what women are and who they hope to become. The magazine consists of a core group of experienced business professionals who believe that professional women are in need of a resource for best practices and shared success in business and beyond. Emelda holds a Bachelor of Social Science degree from the University of Cape Town and is a member the Tanzania Business Association and the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation. She is a 2009 Vital Voices Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership mentee and was mentored by Ann Moore, retired CEO of Time Inc. Emelda is also an alumna of the Africa Leadership Initiative (ALI) She was awarded as Africa’s Most Influential Woman in Business and Governance by CEO Magazine South Africa in 2014 and was selected as one of TIAW’s 100 Most Influential People in Washington DC in 2012. Emelda has also organized a Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk in Tanzania for the last 10 years.
2021 Fellow, Founder & Director, AsesoriasDBJ
Denise Bermudez is the Founder and Director of AsesoriasDBJ, a boutique advisory firm that provides business concierge services. Denise’s goal is to help her clients grow under a secure path of legal and fiscal compliance through personalized services. Denise believes that an empathetic approach offers a reliable space for conscious business owners and entrepreneurs to tell their secrets, without feeling judgement. According to client’s needs, AsesoriasDBJ creates a service plan with the tools that unleash their clients’ full potential. Aware of the power of storytelling, AsesoriasDBJ also includes the services of sensitive writing, offering clients a place for putting their thoughts into words. Denise is an advocate for creating awareness of how a tax culture with a people-focused perspective will lead to a positive impact on society. Denise holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and Public Accounting from the Universidad de Costa Rica, she is also certified as a Franchise Specialist from Tecnológico de Monterrey, and as a Tax Specialist from the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica. Denise’s experience includes working as a Tax & Accounting Coordinator at Millicom Cable, Finance Manager at QSR, as Central America Treasury Planning Analyst at Philip Morris International, and different accounting positions in Dole Fresh Fruit Intl. Beyond AsesoriasDBJ, Denise also serves as a volunteer in her community, including as an Alternate Treasurer for the Political Party Liberal Progresista, a Mentor at Vital Voices Costa Rica and a member of the Leadership Team at Professional Women’s Network of Costa Rica (PWNCR). Denise is a full-time wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend always seeking to improve her skills. She is a certified shiatsu practitioner and a post-partum Doula that enjoys spending time baking, doing cross-stitching, or in the company of a book.
What Denise hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Denise is hoping to improve her communications skills and to better manage her personal brand.
What Denise can offer other fellows:
For Denise, it would be a pleasure to give other fellows a sample of how her business concierge services can help navigate obstacles. She is also happy to write an article for other fellows’ businesses with her sensitive way of storytelling.
Connect with Denise on Social Media:
LinkedIn (business): https://www.linkedin.com/company/asesoriasdbj
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/denisebj/
2021 Fellow, Co-Founder and CEO, La Cana
Daniela is the Co-Founder and CEO of La Cana, a social enterprise that seeks to create fair employment and provide skills training for incarcerated women, enabling them to earn an income away from crime through the creation of high-quality products. La Cana offers knitted dolls, embroidered décor, baby clothes, and manufacturing services for other designers and companies.
Each one of La Cana’s products is 100% handmade, original, and unique and tells the stories of the women that creates them. These stories raise awareness, generate empathy and help reduce the social stigma associated with incarceration. Beyond creating handmade products, La Cana seeks to address social issues such as the lack of opportunities, low levels of education, and circumstance that lead women to become incarcerated as the result of being an accessory to a crime committed by men. Prisons lack effective training and employment programs and due to the precarious conditions and services, do not help achieve social reintegration. La Cana offers solutions through job-trainings for women’s social and economic reintegration, mental health programs, and by advocating for the promotion and protection of incarcerated women’s labor rights. Daniela and La Cana envision a future where prisons are no longer places of punishment, but of opportunity, transforming detention into a time of learning and hope, rather than exclusion and suffering. Through their work, La Cana has witnessed how working with prisons creates more gender-equal, inclusive, peaceful and safer societies and sees their work as their vision for the future and the change they advocate for. Daniela is also an Ashoka Fellow and a member of the British Council – Future Leaders Connect, Women Leaders for the World, and the Global Good Fund. Before her work with La Cana, Daniela served as a Lawyer for Idheas, Strategic Litigation on Human Rights, and García Alcocer and Associates and was a visiting professional at the Due process of Law Foundation. She holds a Bachelor of Law from Anahuac University in Mexico City, a Masters in Human Rights and Democracy from FLACSO, Mexico, a leadership, communication and policy skills development certification from the University of Cambridge, a Digital Marketing Certificate from General Assembly in Chicago, and a Storytelling for Business certification from The University of Chicago.
What Daniela hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Daniela is excited to reflect on, learn about, and share her experiences with other women entrepreneurs. She hopes to build her skills in order to scale her business strategically and financially and hopes to bring greater awareness on the issues surrounding incarceration and gender in Mexico. She also hopes to create strategic alliances to replicate her model in as many prisons and countries as possible, positively impacting the lives of women who are currently invisible to society.
What Daniela can offer other fellows:
Daniela can offer connections with possible allies in Mexico, experience working with victims and vulnerable populations, and legal assistance/orientation in Human Rights and gender equality.
Connect with Daniela on Social Media:
LinkedIn (business): https://www.linkedin.com/company/18887286/admin/
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniela-ancira-413770127/
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/lacanamx
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/daniela.ancira.9/
Instagram (business): https://instagram.com/lacanamx
Instagram (personal): https://instagram.com/daniancira
2021 Fellow, Co-Founder & COO, Ashdam Solar Co. LTD
Damilola is the Co-Founder and COO of Ashdam Solar Co. LTD, a renewable energy service provider located in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. Ashdam Solar’s mission is to bring energy security to 50,000 urban households and 100 rural communities by the year 2030. Currently, Ashdam Solar Co. provides solar electrification for 2,500 households and 15,000 individuals. Damilola believes that energy is the bloodline of social and economic development and that her business is advancing communities by providing affordable, quality, and professional renewable energy solutions. Damilola also pioneered Ashdam Solar’s educational arm, the Ashdam Solar Academy, which provides training in solar engineering and installation. The Ashdam Solar Academy is working to raise a new generation of skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will promote renewable energy and other clean energy sources across Africa. Damilola also serves as Founder and Executive Director of Girls and Women Technological Empowerment Organization and is a Mentor for the African Women in Energy Development Initiative. Previously, Damilola was a part time lecturer in Environment and Sustainable Development at Atiba University Oyo, lecturing assistant at the Cork Institute of Technology Position, and served as Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Ambassador for the Cork Institute of Technology Position. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics with Solar Energy from Bowen University Iwo, a Masters of Science in Physics with a specialty in Atmospheric Physics and Meteorology from the University of Ibadan, and she is currently completing her PhD in Energy Engineering from the Cork Institute of Technology in Ireland. Damilola has published research centered on renewable energy implementation and has been named one of the foremost women in renewable energy in Nigeria by Environment Africa Group.
What Damilola hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Damilola hopes to gain access to networks that help her scale her company’s impact and promote growth. She hopes to build her entrepreneurial and leadership skills along with her strategic planning and business management skills.
What Damilola can offer other fellows:
Damilola can offer her renewable energy expertise in climate change mitigation and the tech industry. She is also open to facilitating connections within her network.
Connect with Damilola on Social Media:
LinkedIn (business): https://www.linkedin.com/company/ashdam-solar
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/damilola-asaleye-70907577
Facebook (business): http://www.facebook.com/ashdamsolar
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/queenasha01
Twitter (business): http://www.twitter.com/ashdamsolar
Twitter (personal): http://www.twitter.com/queenasha01
Instagram (business): http://www.instagram.com/ashdamsolar
2021 Fellow, CEO, Appropriate Energy Saving Technologies LT
Betty is the CEO of Appropriate Energy Saving Technologies (AEST) LTD, a producer of clean fuel and energy-saving cook stoves. AEST’s clean fuel comes in the form of charcoal briquettes made from recycled agricultural waste. Combined with their energy efficient cook stoves, their sustainable products provide customers with clean cooking solutions. AEST products are available to households, businesses, and institutions located in urban and semi-urban areas of North Eastern Uganda. They offer their products at a lower price with greater efficiency and longevity than competitors, all while not producing harmful smoke. AEST’s mission is to increase the use of affordable clean cooking solutions for low-income households and institutions in Uganda. Betty is also the Founder and Executive Director of Teso Women Development Initiatives (or TEWDI Uganda), a nonprofit organization centered around women’s empowerment. Betty holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and Social Administration from Makerere University and a Master of Arts in Development Studies with a specialization in Women, Gender, and Development from the International Institute of Social Studies at Erasmus University, Netherlands. She holds a Certificate from the Global Social Benefit Incubator Program at Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business and a Certificate in Strategic Planning and Management from the Management Training and Advisory Centre (MCAT) Nakawa. She has also participated in the IPH-CDC HIV/AIDS Fellowship program with Makerere University’s Institute of Public Health. Betty belongs to the Uganda National Alliance for Clean Cooking, the Biomass Energy Efficiency Technologies Association, MIT D-Lab’s International Development Design Summit, the Women in Public Service Project, and the Social Entrepreneurship Forum. Betty’s expertise lies in strategic management, capacity building, women’s empowerment, and renewable energy.
What Betty hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Betty would like to expand her business skills and knowledge, develop her leadership abilities, and gain mentors in the areas of women’s empowerment and business management. She looks forward to sharing her successes and areas of improvement with other fellows and is eager to join the Vital Voices’ global network.
What Betty can offer other fellows:
Betty can share her insight on managing a startup company, women’s empowerment, and renewable energy.
Connect with Betty on Social Media:
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/betty-ikalany-68520b60/
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/aest.ug
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/betty.ikalany
Twitter (business): https://twitter.com/aestug
Twitter (personal): https://twitter.com/BIkalany
2021 Fellow, Managing Member, Mass Hire
Betsy is the Managing Member at Mass Hire, a company that offers premium demolition, compaction, concrete mixing, concrete finishing, and scaffolding equipment to Port Elizabeth and surrounding areas. Betsy took over management of Mass Hire in Port Elizabeth in 2012 and expanded operations to a second branch in Walmer enabling Mass Hire to serve the entire Eastern Cape from Port Elizabeth to Jansenville and Lusikisiki. Mass Hire’s business is built on their three key pillars of service, efficiency, and fair pricing. By ensuring quality, efficient service at an affordable price, Mass Hire guarantees that customers are satisfied with their tools and continue to rent from Mass Hire. Betsy is an advocate for women’s entrepreneurship and leadership and has received many prestigious awards, including the Business Women’s Association of South Africa (BWASA), National Business Achievers Award for Social Entrepreneurship, Royal Rotary Club of Port Elizabeth Meritorious Service Award, and Business Partners Certificate of Recognition Honoring Exceptional Achievement. She is also the Founder of e-Watchdog, a company dedicated to making a sustainable impact on African economies by supporting the growth of small enterprises, and the Siyaloba training academy, a social organization that promotes individual development and a better quality of life for South Africa’s coastal and fishing communities. Betsy has also organized Vital Voices mentoring walks every year for the past 10 years.
What Betsy hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Betsy hopes to improve her skills as a woman leader and strengthen her network to build professional relationships with the other fellows.
What Betsy can offer other fellows:
Betsy can offer other fellows her skills and expertise in social entrepreneurship and marketing.
Connect with Betsy on Social Media:
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/betsy-ings-a2872a14/
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/MassHirePE
2021 Fellow, CEO, Serigrafia De La Gringa, Sociedad Anonima
Ashley is the Founder and CEO of Serigrafia de La Gringa and has thirteen years of experience working in Guatemalan prisons. She recently completed her law degree in Guatemala and is currently studying for the bar exam. Ashley founded Serigrafia de La Gringa in 2011 after living in La Limonada, a designated “Red Zone” in Guatemala City for its high levels of crime, violence and poverty. Ashley learned the Spanish language while living in the Limonada for three years. This led Ashley to discovering at only nineteen years old what justice looked like for this impoverished community. This knowledge is what motivated Ashley to visit prisons in Guatemala, where she discovered the solution to Guatemala’s rising violence rates through economic empowerment.
Serigrafia de la Gringa provides incarcerated people a viable alternative to economically-motivated crime: vocational training, dignified, well-paid work within prison walls and after release. Incarcerated people who are employed as screen printers or sewing machine operators by this social enterprise earn close to four times more than the average monthly profit from extortion. This project focuses specifically on providing economic opportunity to incarcerated people in four Guatemalan prisons. When incarcerated people can earn a reliable income, they reject crime and can provide critical financial resources towards food, housing, healthcare, school fees, and other necessary living expenses for their family and children, helping lift them out of poverty.
Serigrafia de La Gringa’s mission is to provide a dignified salary and quality of life for people currently and formerly incarcerated as well as to provide them with new opportunities and a new start. Upon their release, they help formerly incarcerated people who participated in their programs in prison find permanent jobs or place them in a position with one of their alliances. Ashley and Serigrafia de La Gringa aim to address recidivism, lower violence rates, provide opportunities for growth, and access to community and healthy secure spaces.
Ashley is a member of Global Shapers and Rotary International and also serves as the Vice President and CoFounder of C.O.R.E. – Centro de Rehabilitación y Reinserción.
What Ashley Hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Ashley hopes to see her business grow and impact more lives. She hopes to develop stronger business skills to help her grow her business and create positive change in Guatemala.
What Ashley can offer other fellows:
Ashley can offer her knowledge gained from 10 years of experience working with vulnerable and potentially violent populations to other VV Grow fellows.
Connect with Ashley on Social Media:
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleynguate/
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/SerigrafiaDeLaGringa
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/ashley.williams.guatemala/
2021 Fellow, CEO, Industria Metalica Sara SRL
Anggela is the CEO of Industria Metalica Sara SRL, a company based in Lima, Peru, that designs and produces coffee and cacao machines for process plant equipment. IMSA’s line of products include coffee roasters, dry process machines, bean to bar machines, and cacao lab machines. IMSA has been in the market for 35 years and is constantly looking for new innovative ways to improve their machines and services to meet the needs of their customers. Sara ensures that everyone at IMSA is well trained in how to process coffee and cacao, and how to make effective and quality machines. Anggela also serves as the Co-Founder and President of the Board of the Peruvian chapter of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), Co-Founder of The Specialty Coffee Community, and Co-Organizer of “Espressate Muier.” She holds two dental degrees and a certification in Management of the Coffee and Cocoa Cooperative from ESAN Graduate School of Business. Anggela’s expertise is in strategic planning, event organizing, and project management.
What Anggela hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Anggela hopes to learn new problem-solving strategies that other fellows have used to overcome obstacles they face.
What Anggela can offer other fellows:
Anggela can offer her leadership experience from working with a diverse workforce, with coworkers from a variety of backgrounds. She can also share her experience and expertise in event organization.
Connect with Anggela on Social Media:
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/anggelasara/
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/imsaperu
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/ggelasara
Twitter (personal): https://twitter.com/ggela
Instagram (business): https://instagram.com/imsaperu
Marjorie Angella Atuhurra
2021 Fellow, Founder, Gejja Women Foundation
Marjorie is the Founder of the Gejja Women Foundation, a community-based women’s cooperative dedicated to holistically empowering marginalized women and girls in rural Uganda through business development, educational support, training in sexual and reproductive health, and gender mainstreaming. Marjorie believes that economic, educational, and social empowerment are fundamental drivers of change and has designed the Gejja Women Foundation’s programs around those objectives. Through the Foundation’s economic empowerment programs, women in rural Uganda are able to start their own businesses and participate in existing markets through access to professional training and productive resources. Educational empowerment programs pay for school fees and other necessities for marginalized women in order to help them complete their education. Social empowerment programs engage both men and women in the community on the importance of equal rights and opportunities. The Gejja Women Foundation also promotes health and hygiene through menstrual hygiene campaigns that discuss sexual and reproductive health, early pregnancies, and sexual transmittable diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Marjorie received a Diploma in Education from Kyambogo University in 2014 and envisions a generation of well-educated, economically independent, and self-determined women and girls in rural Uganda.
Angela María Arias Montoya
2021 Fellow, Administrative and Human Resources Leader, Mundo Lógico
Angela is the Administrative and Human Resources Leader at Mundo Lógico. Mundo Lógico offers individualized digital strategies to small- and medium-sized businesses in Colombia. They offer clients assistance with the development and maintenance of e-commerce sites, support with lead management as their clients work to acquire and manage potential customers, digital marketing strategies, CRM and automated marketing services, and highly customized digital publications. Mundo Lógico’s mission is to evolve the online experience of their clients. Angela holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from the University of Antioquia and a Management Specialization Certificate from the University Pontificia Bolivariana. Angela’s expertise lies in business management and occupational health.
What Angela hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship?
Angela is eager to learn more about women’s leadership, improve her business skills, and build connections with other fellows.
What Angela can offer other fellows?
Angela can share her expertise and advice on the management of digital platforms.
Connect with Angela Maria on Social Media:
LinkedIn (personal): www.linkedin.com/in/amariasm
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/groups/162792645277655/user/748564491
2021 Fellow, CEO, Happy Coffee
Adeyinka is the CEO of Happy Coffee, a company that creates coffee centered solutions. Happy Coffee aims to reintroduce and reeducate Nigerians and Africans about the art of coffee drinking and provide access to African-grown coffee. They wish to liberate the coffee experience through their freshly roasted, wholly and locally grown Nigerian coffee beans. Happy Coffee has three locations and takes advantage of the untapped coffee value chain in Nigeria. Adeyinka is an advocate for the Nigerian Coffee industry and hopes more smallholder coffee farmers see their product reach customers within their communities. Happy Coffee also engages in an education and awareness campaign to teach Nigerians about coffee and its production. These campaigns have helped Nigerian coffee farmers become more autonomous and has inspired a new generation of budding coffee entrepreneurs. The Happy Coffee business model is one that employs Nigerian youth while empowering farmers and promoting social responsibility. Happy Coffee’s mission is to build Nigeria’s first indigenous, female-led coffee franchise for Nigeria and Africa.
Adeyinka has a Bachelors in Business Management and over 20 years of experience in sales. She is a member of the Tony Elemulu Foundation, the Fate Foundation, and the National Association for Coffee and Tea Farmers and is the convener of the Lagos Coffee Festival. Adeyinka is a fierce advocate for social and economic empowerment through coffee and has served as a mentor to several women in her community.
What Adeyinka hopes to gain from the VV GROW Fellowship:
Adeyinka is looking forward to hearing about experiences other women entrepreneurs have had from around the world. She hopes to build her network and build new alliances for the future.
What Adeyinka can offer other fellows:
Adeyinka can offer her expertise in sales and knowledge of the coffee industry to other fellows.
Connect with Adeyinka on Social Media:
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/princess-adeyinka-tekenah-44a2659/