From Scarves to Social Good: A New Class of Innovative Women
The 2018 Vital Voices Global Partnership GROW Fellows share an entrepreneurial spirit — and something more.
Whatever the Duchess of Cambridge wears in public — even a simple raincoat — attracts attention. So when her donning a Beulah London scarf made headlines earlier this year (The Telegraph of London called it “conscientious style” from a “reasonably under-the-radar brand”), the luxury womenswear brand — and its cause — attracted some well-deserved attention.
Launched after co-founders Lavinia Richards and Lady Natasha Rufus Isaacs took a volunteer trip to India, Beulah London provides sustainable, fair-trade wages to women who might otherwise fall victim to human trafficking. Richards’ efforts recently earned her a 2018 GROW Fellowship with the nonprofit Vital Voices Global Partnership, which helps women around the world grow their businesses and lift up their communities. She hopes the fellowship gives her skills in strategic planning, business and personal leadership so that Beulah London can grow from a brand into something bigger — a community of people who are acting as agents of change, she says.
Social good as a business goal also extends to other participants in the GROW Fellowship program, which FedEx supports as a platinum sponsor. Raneem Mourad and Kashida, an e-learning company based in Lebanon, aim to create content that is easy to access and free to all. Shilpa Jain’s company, Logics Solutions, is working to bring low-cost telecom networks to remote parts of India, connecting the rural masses to the digital economy. And Maurine Birir’s company in Kenya, Worldgates Enterprises, recycles waste materials into charcoal briquettes, which burn hotter and cleaner than wood. “Access to sustainable energy for all is a critical challenge for global development and is closely linked to poverty and development,” Birir says. “Through the Vital Voices GROW Fellowship, I have been empowered with building blocks to operate the enterprise, alleviate restrictions on growth, increase sustainability and control our enterprise operation.”
Vital Voices Global Partnership has invested in more than 15,000 women in 181 countries and territories since its inception in 1997. The organization recently expanded coverage of its GROW Fellowship and now includes participants from the United States, Asia and Europe, as well as Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Learn more about the work of Vital Voices in an Access interview with Alyse Nelson, the organization’s co-founder, president and CEO.
PHOTO ABOVE: Vital Voices GROW Fellows Patience Magodo of Tafadzwa Ne Chiedza Development Trust and Maymunah Tusuf Kadiri of Pinnacle Medical Services Limited work at an in-person training in Cape Town, South Africa.
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories following the 2018 class of Vital Voices Global Partnership GROW Fellows. Future stories will cover their progress gaining the skills they need to grow their business and make differences in their communities and countries.