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Traditionally, we’ve thought of entrepreneurs as people who set up businesses to generate personal wealth. But that concept is changing. As consumers across the world become more socially-conscious, they expect business leaders to be driven by purpose as well as profit. There are also growing demands for business to play a more active role in addressing the problems which have traditionally been left to governments or civil society, along with a need for new solutions to these complex issues, whether it be climate change or extreme poverty. In short, entrepreneurs are no longer seen simply as individual profit-makers, but as potential architects of a stronger, safer and more equal world for everyone.

On 6th June 6:15-8am PDT (GMT-7), we’re holding a breakfast event at Women Deliver in Vancouver where experts will offer suggestions on what difference a global movement of ‘sisterpreneurs’ could make. ‘Sisterpreneneurs’ is a term coined by one of the women in our Mentoring Programme, to describe the network of women she met through our global platform, who support each other informally and formally throughout their entrepreneurship journey.  The session will be streamed live on the Foundation’s Facebook page but, if you’re heading to #WD2019, register to attend in person!

Though they often lack the recognition, throughout history, countless incredible women have and continue to create products, services and movements that redefine the future. In our event banner, some of the amazing women entrepreneurs who have participated in our enterprise development programmes are showcased alongside five trailblazers from the past century – inventors, artists and activists who redefined the future for their societies.

Known as the Nightingale of India for her poetry, Sarojini Naidu was an artist, Indian independence activist and politician. A follower of Mahatma Gandhi, Sarojini became the President of Indian National Congress and first woman to govern the Republic of India. She helped to establish the Women’s Indian Association in 1917 and delivered lectures on social welfare, women’s empowerment and nationalism throughout her life. Through her poetry, Sarojini praised prominent Muslim figures at a time when Muslim-Hindu tensions ran high. She also had an inter-caste and inter-regional marriage in an era that this was uncommon. Her goal was to bring all of India together regardless of any caste or religion.  She is credited with having great intellectual power and charm, a courageous energy and for having inspired a whole generation of women to participate in the Freedom Movement.

One of the most significant artists of the twentieth century, Frida Kahlo de Rivera, was a Mexican artist who painted portraits, self-portraits and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico. Through her work, she explored questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class and race in Mexican society. Despite dying in the 1954, just one year after her first solo Exhibition in Mexico, by the early 1990s, Frida had become both a recognised figure in art history and regarded as an icon for the civil rights, feminism and LGBTQI+ movements.

Stephanie Louise Kwolek was a Polish American chemist, in 1965, invented Kevlar. Five times stronger than steel, Kevlar is used in body armour and military aircraft but also has many other applications from bicycle tires and racing sails to musical instruments, cars, smartphones and even fire dancing. In 1995, Stephanie became the fourth woman ever to be added to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

“We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations all of species to rise up and walk” – Wangari Maathai

Wangari Muta Maathai was internationally acknowledged for her struggle for democracy, human rights and conservation. She was a renowned Kenyan social, environmental and political activist. She was the first woman in Africa to win the Nobel laureate and addressed the UN on several different occasions. In addition to authoring four books, Wangari founded the Green Belt Movement – an initiative encouraging poverty reduction and environmental conservation through community-based tree planting.

And Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor. Despite having no formal training, at the beginning of WWII with composer George Antheil, Hedy developed ‘spread spectrum’ technology to prevent classified messages from Allied forces being intercepted by Nazis. The principles of that work led to Bluetooth technology, GPS and Wi-Fi. Among many ‘pioneer’ awards, in 2014, Hedy, like Stephanie, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Throughout all different parts of the world, these incredible women created life-changing inventions and social revolutions. Imagine the unstoppable impact that could be achieved by a global movement of women entrepreneurs. Join us on June 6th as we unpack:

  • How women’s entrepreneurship can create a social revolution
  • How a global movement could remove the barriers women entrepreneurs face
  • Whether networks are the key to unlocking the transformative potential of entrepreneurship
  • And what role technology can play in all this
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