As noted in our annual report, Weaving the Fabric of Impact, Miller Center is committed to advancing women in all aspects of business by supporting social enterprises that create models of success for women.
In January of this year, Miller Center launched our largest cohort to date. Participants were selected based on their stage of development and because they are addressing one or more of the four dimensions of our Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) strategy — women as leaders, employees, value chain contributors, or customers.
Over the last six months, as I listened to the stories of the WEE program participants during the second wave of the pandemic, my admiration for what they do on a daily basis grew exponentially. Complete lockdowns with little or no access to electricity became business as usual. Family members and, in one case, a participant were hospitalized and received oxygen because they contracted COVID-19. Others shared their sorrow at witnessing the tragic display of economic privilege that contributed to the problem of access to critical care beds — meaning those living in poverty were often left on the sidelines in very critical condition. In happier news, two babies were welcomed into the world — one the child of a program participant, the other a grandchild. Throughout, they remained immersed in their businesses, working with some of the most marginalized people in the world, and in the accelerator program for support in scaling their impact.
“Miller Center’s program came to us at the most critical time of all — at the height of the pandemic. With so many disruptions and lockdowns, we struggled to stay motivated. My mentors Shardul and Aarti, our coach Susan, and the program team were so supportive during these disruptions. Mentors also asked tough questions about this and other such disruptions in the future, which helped us craft our business and financial models in a more resilient manner. Our coach provided a ray of spiritual light. I am grateful and feel blessed that we had the Miller Center’s program to hold on to during very dark times.” —Usha Devi Venkatachalam, Founder and CEO, Krishi Janani
Along with much grief, came patience and compassion from Miller Center’s mentors and leadership coaches. Without their support, this accelerator would not have been as successful as it was.
“Ed and Kristina were outstanding and absolutely made this program worthwhile. They were insightful, pushed me, provided really great feedback and resources, and were a delight to work with.” —Devin Hibbard, CEO, Street Business School
At Miller Center, we think of our network of mentors as our “secret sauce,” and the social entrepreneurs undeniably agree with their improved levels of confidence and thought out strategies with a pathway toward growth and scale.
“With the help of my mentors, the programme structure enabled me to analyse the constituent parts of my business objectively and streamline it to deliver on its mission and meet the needs of the target markets. Also, I can now approach investors with confidence knowing that I have a valid business and impact model.” – Amanobea Boateng, CEO, Women’s DNA Fund
After several months of dedication and persistence throughout this tumultuous year, Miller Center is proud to welcome 25 social entrepreneurs — all women leaders — to our alumni community. The social enterprises they run are scattered across the globe and their impact is similarly wide ranging. Here are just some of the remarkable enterprises from this cohort:
- Savhera combats human trafficking in India by providing dignified employment to survivors of sexual exploitation.
- Serigrafia de la Gringa transforms the lives of incarcerated people in Guatemala through skills training, life-coaching, and employment.
- The Harvest Fund provides tech-centric agricultural services to farming cooperatives in Zambia, with a focus on female small-scale farmers.
- Kidogo improves access to quality and affordable early childhood care and education in East Africa’s low income communities.
- Greenleaf Investments develops innovative ways of turning bio waste into wealth for their clients, in turn also lowering carbon emissions for Malawi.
- Kimuli Fashionability upcycles plastic waste into fashionable and unique garment designs — all of which are manufactured by people with disabilities.
Learn more about all 25 social enterprises here.
Our next Women’s Economic Empowerment Accelerator Program will launch January 2022 and we are accepting applications now. Miller Center is committed to helping break the cycle of poverty for women, who, in turn, lift the living standards and wellbeing of entire communities.
Will you help us spread the word and further this impact together?
“Miller Center challenged me, and helped me think outside the box and explore new ways of doing business and growing the business. It was also very humbling to meet so many amazing women doing great things for the world.” —Elisa Barrios, Mikono The Refugee Craft Shop (part of Jesuit Refugee Service)