Ogunte: Why "She Inspires Her"?
Lisa: With two daughters of my own, I feel very strongly about supporting other women. I created an online platform – She Inspires Her - to tell the stories of women entrepreneurs in emerging markets. I want the site and associated social media to celebrate women who have started and grown businesses, offering lessons and tips for aspiring women entrepreneurs and changing perceptions about female founders among the banking, investment and business communities in emerging markets.
O: What is it that you are doing differently, Lisa?
L: We don’t just tell the stories but aim to make connections for the women we write about. We promote their businesses across social media and make introductions that can lead to interesting collaborations. We share information on accelerator programs, competitions, fellowship, awards etc, and promote the women we profile to those making decisions on candidates.
We believe that women are as productive and can earn equivalent profit when treated equally before the law and given the same access to resources and support as men. If more women were encouraged to take the leap into entrepreneurship in the formal sector, there would be direct impact in their communities where these women live and choose to invest their profits, in health and education or local goods and services for example. Consequently, we also try to raise awareness about the barriers women face in starting up in emerging markets such as social and cultural norms; time constraints; lack of access to education, skills development and technology; limited access to productive resources; little-to-no financing options; and a biased regulatory environment.
O: What do you know now that you wished you had known from the beginning?
L: I’d wish I’d known how hard it was going to be! It’s so easy to get excited about your idea but not everyone is going to be as passionate as you are. But from all the women entrepreneurs I have interviewed, I’ve learned to stay determined, keep pushing forward, and be persistent. The validation is what has sustained us thus far: so many women love what we are trying to achieve, our efforts to give the “everywoman” a voice. We have partnered with a lot of like-minded organizations and do a little mutual back-scratching. I truly believe that what goes around comes around and all the support we give to others today will come back in spades down the road.
O: How does your world look like in 2030?
That’s a really tough question, especially considering all that is happening today in terms of the rise of people like Donald Trump, organizations like ISIS and the inequality women face around the world. But at heart, I am an optimist. I think technology will help us address many of the issues we face in terms of the environment and closing the poverty gap in emerging markets. Mostly I think women will be at the forefront of change. I think we are seeing the rise of the woman in business, in politics, in economics and in creating change through entrepreneurship. If they are not social entrepreneurs per se, many of the woman I write about use the profits they make to invest back into the community or other people. I think for example of a fruit farmer in Uganda who’s building an eco-tourism business and educating others on sustainable farming. She pays for several girls in her village to attend school and collaborates with smallholder farmers to improve their methods of farming and get access financing. Women like that “lift as they climb” and are more focused on making things better for those around them then personal gain. The good thing is there is no shortage of them, especially in Africa. As eco-housing architect, Chinwe Ohajuruka says “Whether the world knows it or not, it’s waiting for the rise of the African woman … the hard-working, creative and passionate woman who’s not seeking a reward but rather wants to make a difference especially in the face of suffering.”
O: Can you suggest 3 women social entrepreneurs in your network, that the world should know about?
L: Yes, discover:
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