SDG05 – Gender Equality

These social entrepreneurs are accomplishing Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

059, Servane Mouazan, Ogunte | Empowering Women Social Entrepreneurs

Servane Mouazan grew up in Britany, France. From an early age she was motivated by social and environmental justice. “It was very diffuse back in the day” she told me. “I just wanted to help.” And help she does. She has been described as a force of nature and as a social entrepreneur with a generous spirit.

Today Servane runs Ogunte. Ogunte is a Community Interest Company (CIC) and a Benefit Corporation (B Corp). Ogunte supports women social entrepreneurs by enabling them to learn, lead and connect. Ogunte creates an ecosystem of coaches, mentors, peer support and technical assistance. They have supported over 5200 women social entrepreneurs through business coaching, impact investment, training, leadership development, awards and challenge prizes. They hope to impact over 1 million women by the year 2020.

Ogunte works to give women social entrepreneurs a voice, to make them visible and to help them to be effective. They run an incubator called Make a Wave, both in-person and online.

Servane is also the Programme Manager for the Womanity Awards by The Womanity Foundation.

Women Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Servane Mouazan:

“I wanted to have a conversation around social and environmental impact. That’s the only thing I was interested in.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”Give yourself permission to be vocal. @ServaneMouazan of @ogunte”]

“Don’t allow anyone to push you down for raising important issues.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”Think about a system, not just a product. @ServaneMouazan of @ogunte“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”Sometimes it’s not about starting something from scratch. It’s about joining forces. @ServaneMouazan of @ogunte“]

“Know your boundaries.”

“You’re not going to change the world tomorrow by 4 PM.”

Women Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

059, Servane Mouazan, Ogunte | Empowering Women Social Entrepreneurs

041, Joy McBrien, Fair Anita | Beautiful Products with a Powerful Purpose

After experiencing sexual violence in high school, Joy McBrien decided that she wanted to prevent this tragedy from happening to other women. When she read about the high incidence of violence against women in Peru, she decided to travel there. As an 18 year-old, she started a non-profit.

Working with local women, she raised funds and built a women’s shelter. Over the next six years, Joy visited 18 countries, listening closely to the needs of women. Through these conversations, Joy began to deeply understand the relationship between poverty and violence against women. She understood that the best path to empowerment was through economic development. In other words, jobs.

Today, Joy is the founder of Fair Anita, a social enterprise that empowers women around the world through dignified jobs and fair trade relationships. Fair Anita currently works with 8,000 women in 16 countries.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Joy McBrien:

“I wanted to create a systems-changing solution that would attack sexual violence at its source.”

“I don’t want to have to ever sell something based off of pity. That’s not creating an empathetic relationship between artisan and consumer.”

“We’re creating products that millennials in the US want, at a price point that they’re willing to pay. Therefore we’ve created jobs for thousands of women around the world. And because they have this job, they can leave an abusive partner, or they are seen as having more worth in their own home. They are empowered.”

“With millennials, you have to be authentic and transparent and engage them in the process.”

Fair Anita Quote Giveaway Announcement!

If you love what you hear from Joy McBrien and want to support Fair Anita, you can join our giveaway. Click here for details.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

041, Joy McBrien, Fair Anita | Beautiful Products with a Powerful Purpose

038, Elise Maxwell, Ova Woman | A Talk With Your Lady Friend About Women’s Intimate Health

If you hang around the startup community long enough, you’re going to run into some founders that make you think “I don’t know what business they’re starting, but I want to back their play.” Elise Maxwell is one of those people. She is authentic, transparent and relentlessly helpful. She’s just someone you want to cheer for.

Elise spends her days talking about women’s intimate health. What is women’s intimate health? Elise Maxwell told me, “It’s all the things that you might not be comfortable talking about. That’s a good indicator. Is this intimate health? Are you really comfortable talking about this right now? No? Then it’s probably intimate health.”

Who do you trust to talk to about your intimate health questions and concerns? If you had a question about menstruation, breastfeeding, menopause, douching, or other intimate health questions, where would you go? You may go to your mother or other close female relative. You might go to your doctor. Or, you might have a best friend in whom you could confide. But not all women have that kind of relationship.

Ova Woman is an online community. They create a safe space for talking about women’s intimate health. They also curate innovative products for women’s intimate health. Their goal is to be the lady friend to whom women can turn as they navigate periods, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. They also produce content such as a blog, podcast and vlog that tackles the taboos around women’s intimate health.

While the topics discussed by Ova Woman are important, the founders deliver their perspective with a dose of good humor. Their podcast is called The Speculum and they call their newsletter a periodical. See what they did there?


038, Elise Maxwell, Ova Woman | A Talk With Your Lady Friend About Women’s Intimate Health

032, Liz Forkin Bohannon, Sseko Designs | Fashion that Educates Young Women

Liz Forkin Bohannon, Sseko Designs

Liz Forkin Bohannon, Sseko Designs

Liz Forkin Bohannon grew up in the Midwest. She attended the University of Missouri and studied journalism. There, she began to develop a passion for supporting women and girls living in extreme poverty, especially those living in conflict and post-conflict zones. After graduation, she worked for a couple of months in a large communications firm. One day, while working in a cubicle, she made a decision that would change the course of her life. She purchased a one-way ticket to Uganda.

Once in Uganda, here’s what she found. There is a 9-month gap between high school and university. Because Uganda is a cash-based economy, it is expected that the student will go to their village, find meaningful employment, and save the money for college. Unfortunately, there are not always jobs to be found. This is especially true for young women. So, many women do not advance beyond high school.

After trying a few other ideas (even a chicken farm!), Liz remembered a pair of funky sandals she had cobbled together as a college student. Though, at the time she was not a fan of fashion, Liz tried an experiment. She started a company that made sandals in Uganda.

Until now, Uganda has not been known for footwear, so Liz had to invent everything from the ground up, literally. Her first factory was a patch of grass with foot-pumped sewing machines. She also had to build the market to buy the sandals.

Today, Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that is based in east Africa making much more than sandals. They use fashion and design to provide economic and educational opportunities to women and girls.

Key quotes from the interview:

“I realized, growing up in middle class, Midwestern America, I didn’t have a ton of experience of working with women living in extreme poverty or in conflict zones. So I bought a one-way plane ticket to Uganda.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”When I went to school, ‘social enterprise’ was not a thing. @lizbohannon”]

“I knew that I was a mission-driven kind of person and if I was going to give my life to something, it needed to be something that I could stand back and say that I am actively participating in building the world that I want to live in.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”You can imagine, there were people in my life who did not think that was the most prudent decision. @lizbohannon”]

“My first thought, being a white, pretty well resourced American, in Africa for the first time, was, like, no-brainer! We’re going to start a charity.”

“One of the biggest benefits I had was, I didn’t go to Uganda to start anything. I went to Uganda to be a journalist.”

“When I was in college, I had no interest in fashion.”

“I thought that if you were into fashion, that very distinctly meant in my college brain that you were either shallow or materialistic and so I was not interested in you or what you cared about…which makes me a huge brat. Now my whole life is eating humble pie.”

“We recognized really quickly that I can sell a certain number of sandals based on the story..but if I really want Sseko to be scalable and sustainable, and more than a glorified charity that happens to have a product attached to it, that I had to start thinking about this as I would if there were no story attached.”

“I see way too many social entrepreneurs rely far too heavily on their impact, instead of their product and instead of their brand.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”Last year, the president of Uganda showed up at our workshop. @lizbohannon”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”Poverty is complex…and sometimes that does not translate into a great marketing message. @lizbohannon”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”I’ve become increasingly aware of how toxic the concept of the silver bullet is. @lizbohannon”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”We’re looking for 3,000 women who want to be the CEO of Sseko in their community. @lizbohannon”]


032, Liz Forkin Bohannon, Sseko Designs | Fashion that Educates Young Women