“We want to challenge certain deeply entrenched ideas about who can be a successful entrepreneur.”

“One of the most effective ways to combat poverty is to empower women economically. If you help a woman, you help the whole community.” Diana Amini, Director of H&M Foundation explains why they support CARE's work.

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One of the most effective ways to combat poverty is the economic empowerment of women”, says Diana Amini. She is director of the H&M Foundation, founded and financed by Stefan Persson, the owner of the clothing chain H&M. One of the most important aims of this foundation is to support projects which promote equality between women and men.

“We have now reached nearly 133,000 women all over the world”, says Amini. “It is fascinating to see how much CARE's help means, not just to the individual women, but also how they can now pay for their children's schooling, how their men begin to see them in a different light, and how their role in the community changes.”

“These women didn't start in Silicon Valley, but with absolutely nothing”

The H&M Foundation doesn't just support CARE with money, but also with publicity, such as for example the Foundation 500 campaign. With an ironic reference to the Fortune 500 list of mainly white, male captains of industry, the H&M Foundation drew up a list of remarkable business women who are involved in CARE's programme. “These women didn't start in Silicon Valley, but with absolutely nothing”, says Amini. “By portraying them the same way as the men on the Fortune 500 list we wanted to challenge certain deeply entrenched ideas about who can be a successful entrepreneur”.

Philomene Tia from the Ivory Coast is at the top of the Foundation 500 list. She was a teenager when she became the seventh wife of a much older man. She only had something to eat if there were any left-overs. In order to improve her situation she decided to start growing peanuts. She earned the starting capital that she needed by working on the land for other women. She made a profit from her peanuts and used this to set up in businesses trading in frozen fish. She made more profit and started breeding livestock. She used her savings to buy two minibuses in order to start a taxi service. Today Philomene Tia is the owner of the Ivory Coast's first bus company, and she owns a chain of liquor stores, a hotel complex and a livestock breeding farm. “Tia has now visited the president of Ivory Coast to talk with him about entrepreneurship among women”, says Diana Amini. “When women become economically independent they gain a voice, and this can lead to changes to laws and policy. When you help a woman, you are helping the whole community.”

 

This article was published on International Women's Day in Dutch newspaper 'Trouw'.  It was written by Renate van der Zee.

 

Fighting for Equality

“Gender equality should be at the heart of our programming. And that doesn’t just mean empowering women, it also means engaging men.” Misrach Mekonnen from CARE Ethiopia passionately promoted gender equality at a recent event in London, UK

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