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Introducing Our 2023 – 2024 Social Enterprise Alumni Advisory Council

Miller Center is excited to announce the Social Enterprise Alumni Advisory Council for the 2023 – 2024 term, which includes four members from our inaugural council and four new members. As part of our ongoing effort to get direct feedback and direction on strategy and tactics from the “voice of the customer”, this stellar group of social entrepreneurs will further enable our Center to make informed choices to bring about our most ambitious outcomes. The entrepreneurs invited to join the 2023 – 2024 Council are all partners and alumni of our accelerator programs and were carefully selected as they are representative of the social enterprises we work with globally.

2023 2024 advisory council standing in front of a white boardAs Miller Center continues to double down on our efforts to recruit for our accelerator programs, serve the entrepreneur alumni community, grow Miller Center Invest, and strengthen academic partnerships across Santa Clara University, it is critical that we continuously listen to, work closely with, and align to the needs of the social enterprise community. The Alumni Advisory Council is a representative body acting as an ongoing sounding board and focus group for these consultations.

Each of the eight Advisory Council members brings unique perspectives and wisdom about the social enterprise ecosystem across several sectors and regions with businesses focused on sustainable farming, safe water, emerging market entrepreneurship, food security and nutrition, women’s health, empowering artisans, and energy access. They hail from Cameroon, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Thailand, Uganda, and the US, with the impact of their enterprises extending across Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia.

We are thrilled to announce the four returning members and four new members joining the Council.

Returning Council Members:

Manka Angwafo, Founder & CEO Grassland Cameroon

Zubaida Bai, Founder & Board Chair Ayzh, President & CEO Grameen Foundation

Antonio Nuño, Co-founder & CEO Someone Somewhere

Manoj Sinha, Founder & CEO Husk Power Systems

New Council Members:

Lucy Ashman, Founder Tierra & Lava

Sonali Mehta-Rao, Co-founder Awaaz.de, Founder Ahaana Ventures

Matt Wallace, Managing Director & Co-founder ONOW

Galen Welsch, Co-founder & CEO Jibu

Please join me in welcoming the 2023 – 2024 Social Entrepreneur Alumni Advisory Council to the Miller Center family:


Pictured: Advisory Council members Zubaida Bai, Lucy Ashman, Sonali Mehta-Rao, and Galen Welsch with Miller Center staff members Karen Runde, Karen Carter, Paul Belknap, and Eli Latimerlo.


The Pope, the Climate Crisis, and Social Entrepreneurship

An Invitation to Speak at Climate & Environmental Justice Conference

Last month, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship was proud to be a sponsor of the Climate & Environmental Justice Conference, held at Santa Clara University. Organized by the Environmental Justice and the Common Good Initiative in affiliation with the Association of the Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the conference’s goal centered around advancing community-university partnerships to promote climate and environmental justice.

I was invited to join a discussion panel alongside experts and academics in theology, sustainability, environmental science, climate policy, and communications from Santa Clara University as well as from Seattle University, USF, Stanford University, Loyola University Chicago and Catholic Charities — to sit down and address a very Jesuit-specific question:

“How can ‘We’ Implement Laudato Si’ Action Planning Across Universities?” 

As a representative of Miller Center, my goal was to share how our Center’s partnership with social entrepreneurs can help implement Pope Francis’ encyclical.

Oh the Irony

Full disclosure – when I was first invited to join this panel, my initial reaction was, well isn’t this ironic? Growing up in more of a spiritual than religion-based environment, I held some skepticism about Catholicism’s relevance in addressing today’s problems.

And if you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering: a) What the heck is an encyclical? and b) What is Laudato Si’ and what is its connection to social entrepreneurship?

An encyclical is a public letter from the Pope with the aim of developing Catholic teaching on a topic in relation to current events. Pope Francis’s 2nd encyclical ‘Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home’ is a universal letter addressed to “every person living on this planet.” In this, Pope Francis emphasizes the need to care for the natural environment and all people and addresses the broader relationship between God, humans, and Earth. Hmm…This sounds more relevant than I’d expected.

Sitting down with Laudato Si’

Since Miller Center is a Center of Distinction within Santa Clara University, staff were all given a hard copy of Laudato Si’ at one point in time or another. My copy, admittedly, had gone missing after having lived in my desk drawer for some time. Fortunately, a trusty colleague still had his and lent it to me. So, in preparation for this panel, I finally sat down and read Pope Francis’ 160-page encyclical over the course of a few evenings and was impressed with the strong linkages he makes between global poverty and the role that social entrepreneurship can play in alleviating it.

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis acknowledges that those living in poverty are the ones most affected by climate change. He calls for all of us — individuals, communities, businesses, and governments — to address the issue of climate change and the economic challenges our planet is facing. His action plans are rooted both in the Church’s teaching on the environment and ecology, and in significant climate protocols. Pope Francis emphasizes the interconnectedness of all living things, which is at the essence of what integral ecology is all about. Global challenges are inherently linked to human activities, behaviors, and relationships.

Coming from a sustainability science background myself, I also appreciated that the Pope referenced the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, one of the first major convenings to demand global collaboration in addressing climate change and was, for its time, unprecedented in stating that “human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development.” The 1992 Rio Earth Summit laid the groundwork for other international agreements like the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement and for establishing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS).

Connecting Laudato Si’ to Miller Center: Putting the Practice into Real life

To take a step back, it is important to discuss the underpinning of social entrepreneurship and why Miller Center believes that business can be a driving force for positive impact. In other words, how do we arrive at social entrepreneurship as a solution to end global poverty?

The social enterprises that come to Miller Center and participate in our accelerator programs develop innovative and sustainable solutions that tackle some of our planet’s most critical environmental and social issues. Since 2003, we have worked with over 1,300 entrepreneurs whose primary mission is social justice and whose secondary priority is establishing an earned revenue model that enables economic self-sustainability. Miller Center is also intentional about supporting enterprises with a focus on climate resilience, women’s economic power, or the intersection of both. Specifically, within climate resilience, we accelerate enterprises who are addressing the needs of those living in poverty who suffer disproportionately from climate change. Their focus areas fall within the categories of safe water and sanitation, clean energy, and climate-smart agriculture.

These social enterprises not only promote climate justice, but do so in a way that elevates the dignity of the people they serve, enabling entire populations to become architects of their own future. And coming back to the notion of integral ecology, the social enterprises that Miller Center accompanies are quite literally disrupting the structures that allow poverty to exist and the earth to be degraded. These enterprises are creating solutions and new ecosystems that are decentralized, can scale at a pace that meets global demands, and shift the locus of power into the hands of the most vulnerable by creating economic opportunities.

Miller Center Social Enterprises

Recently, I traveled to Mexico and visited three social enterprises that are graduates of Miller Center programs. These enterprises are the embodiment of “business for good” as they have figured out a balanced way to pursue profits while also achieving social and environmental justice in the communities in which they operate.

Sistema.bio transforms animal waste into valuable resources by converting manure into biogas and biofertilizer. The biogas is used as an alternative energy source to charcoal and wood burning, and the biofertilizer is an organic alternative to traditional chemical fertilizers.

Someone Somewhere works with rural and indigenous artisans in the poorest states in Mexico. They bring local artisans’ products into the global marketplace. In 2022, Someone Somewhere became the first manufacturing company in Mexico to become Climate Neutral Certified.

Iluméxico is one of Mexico’s most innovative social enterprises. The company assembles, programs, and distributes solar solutions to last-mile communities — areas with the poorest of the poor, where people, places, and small enterprises are underserved and excluded, where the development needs are greatest, and where the resources are most scarce.

A Destination University for Implementing Laudato Si’

One of the great things about being housed on a Jesuit campus like Santa Clara University is that there are ample opportunities to learn about relevant and pressing issues like climate justice. But what sets Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship apart is that the social enterprises we accelerate are implementing game-changing solutions in marginalized communities around the world.

It is in this role that Miller Center provides a pathway for university students and faculty to engage directly with that work. The Miller Center Lewis Family Fellowship provides transformational opportunities for students to learn and work with social entrepreneurs on the front lines of poverty eradication globally. This summer, we are sending 16 students to work with 7 of our enterprise alumni whose collective impact spans 6 countries. Additionally, each fall Miller Center offers a call for research proposals to faculty interested in fellowship and grant funding as a way to contribute to social enterprise education at SCU. We are also excited to host our third Faculty Curriculum Development Workshop this June in which we hope to further introduce the field of social entrepreneurship, share resources for curriculum development, and lay the foundation for co-creating meaningful research projects across the university.

Combining our physical location in Silicon Valley, the most innovative and entrepreneurial place on earth, with the Jesuit heritage of social justice, community engagement, and global impact, makes Santa Clara University, through Miller Center, a destination university for implementing Laudato Si’ action plans to advance integral ecology and environmental justice. We believe that together — Miller Center, students, faculty, and social entrepreneurs — we can accelerate hope for a future without poverty. In the words of Pope Francis, “All is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”

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Meet the Safe Water and Climate-Smart Agriculture Cohort for the Fall 2022 In-Residence Cohort

Following a successful return to hosting an in-person In-Residence this past April — after a two-year pandemic-enforced hiatus — Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is thrilled to announce the cohort for our second In-Residence this year at Santa Clara University.

In line with the Center’s goal of focusing efforts on social entrepreneurs with the highest potential, this sector-focused cohort is composed entirely of Miller Center alumni entrepreneurs working on safe water and climate-smart agriculture solutions. For many of the participating entrepreneurs, this will be their second and, for some, even third time participating in a Miller Center program. The 10 alumni enterprises invited to participate in the Fall 2022 In-Residence represent some of the most inspiring leaders directly addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During October 14 – 17, these enterprises will participate in an in-depth mock investor meeting, participate in presentation skills training and leadership management workshops, and engage in sector-focused roundtable discussions with SCU faculty all with the goal of preparing the entrepreneurs to more effectively tell their stories as leaders of change. To commemorate Miller Center’s 25th Anniversary, the In-Residence will kick off with a welcome reception and celebration at Miller Center’s home in the courtyard of the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation, during which we will announce three more Social Impact Excellence Award recipients. Following the In-Residence, the cohort will also be sponsored by Miller Center to attend the SOCAP conference in San Francisco, where they will have more opportunities to showcase their work as part of the exclusive SOCAP22 Entrepreneur Program Cohort, network, and engage directly with the impact investing community.

These impressive alumni social entrepreneurs are creating models of success and providing a pathway out of poverty for the communities they support. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome them in-person next month to In-Residence at Santa Clara.

Read more about each enterprise below.


Creating Magic and Community at Miller Center’s 2022 In-Residence

The last time I found myself standing in front of a live audience was back in 2019, at what ended up being the last In-Residence Showcase that Miller Center was able to host in-person at Santa Clara University.

I had recently returned from maternity leave and was so excited to be able to gather with everyone and be part of a larger community working collectively to create sustainable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Little did I, or should I say we, have any idea of what the next two years would end up looking like, how lonely it would feel, and how much we realized we took for granted the inherent value of being physically together.

Well here we are, two years later, happy and grateful to announce a successful completion of Miller Center’s 2022 In-Residence program. This year’s In-Residence was the Center’s first in-person event at Miller Center’s new home in the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation. It was incredibly energizing to reconnect in person, and to see so many familiar faces among our entrepreneur alumni, mentors, and the broader SCU community. As much as we all love Zoom, I think we can all agree that the real magic of an In-Residence happens when we all come together.

In line with Miller Center’s goal of focusing efforts on entrepreneurs with the highest potential,  this cohort was composed entirely of Miller Center alumni entrepreneurs. For many of the participating entrepreneurs, this was their second and, for some, even third time participating in a Miller Center program.

During the week of April 2-8, these entrepreneurs participated in in-depth mock investor meetings, one-on-one meetings with mentors and bespoke consultants, and peer networking events that included wine tasting, an impromptu concert, hiking in redwood forests, and honing presentation skills. The week culminated with a showcase event in the SCDI Courtyard. Additionally, Miller Center provided sessions designed specifically for our mentor cadre as a chance to encourage mentor peer learning and engagement with each other.

This year also marked Miller Center’s 25th Anniversary, so the In-Residence kicked off with a special welcome reception in which we awarded six social entrepreneur alumni recipients Miller Center’s newly launched Social Impact Excellence Award.

The 16 alumni enterprises invited to participate in this year’s In-Residence represent some of the most promising leaders directly addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus in the areas of women’s economic empowerment, climate resilience, or the intersection of both.

With this particular cohort of alumni, we have enterprises creating sustainable livelihoods for artisan and fishing communities that are giving Kenyan and Filipino women dignity and agency over their own lives.

We have enterprises working with smallholder farmers in Nicaragua, the Philippines, the Ivory Coast, and Cameroon to ensure food security, access to capital and fair market prices for their crops.

We also have entrepreneurs working to ensure that the future of energy is clean energy, by equipping hospitals in Nepal with solar energy, to organizations who are ensuring hard to reach populations in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, and Uganda have access to clean water, affordable biogas and solar home systems.

And with that, it is my pleasure to continue to welcome the most recent graduating In-Residence cohort to the Miller Center community of alumni.

  1. Anthill Fabric Gallery
  2. Awaaz.de
  3. Bidhaa Sasa
  4. CareNx
  5. Cropital
  6. Deevabits Green Energy
  7. Doselva
  8. Folia
  9. Gham Power
  10. Grassland Cameroon
  11. Grassroots Energy
  12. iKure Techsoft
  13. Rio Fish
  14. Seekewa
  15. Taimba
  16. Village Energy


If you would like to learn more about each enterprise, we encourage you to watch their Showcase presentations here as well as their recorded pitches here. You can also reach out at mc-alumni@scu.edu.


Finally, in Miller Center fashion, I’ll end with a quote:

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that comes with community.” – Dorothy Day

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in making this year’s In-Residence a success. You bring the magic to our community.


Meet the 16 Social Enterprises of the 2022 In-Residence Cohort

After taking a two-year pandemic-enforced hiatus from hosting in-person events, and a brief foray in experimenting with virtual hosting in 2020, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is excited to announce that we are once again hosting our highly regarded In-Residence this April at Santa Clara University.

In line with the Center’s goal of focusing efforts on social entrepreneurs with the highest potential, this cohort is composed entirely of Miller Center alumni entrepreneurs. For many of the participating entrepreneurs, this will be their second and, for some, even third time participating in a Miller Center program. The 16 alumni enterprises invited to participate in this year’s April In-Residence represent some of the most promising leaders directly addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a focus in the areas of women’s economic empowerment, climate resilience, or the intersection of both through their enterprises.

For the week of April 2 – 7, these enterprises will participate in in-depth mock investor meetings, one-on-one meetings with mentors and bespoke consultants, peer networking events as well as a chance to hone their presentation skills with a culminating showcase event on the final day. Additionally, Miller Center is excited to provide sessions designed specifically for our mentor cadre as a chance to encourage mentor peer learning and engagement with each other. This year also marks Miller Center’s 25th Anniversary, so the In-Residence will kick off with a special welcome reception during which we will commemorate this important milestone with Miller Center friends and supporters.

These impressive alumni social entrepreneurs are creating models of success and providing a pathway out of poverty for the communities they support. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome them in-person next month to In-Residence at Santa Clara.

Read more about each enterprise below.

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Miller Center and Chevron Welcome Latest Cohort of Social Entrepreneur Graduates

Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is excited to welcome the latest cohort of social entrepreneurs to our alumni community. These ten extraordinary entrepreneurs, with direct impact in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam participated in the 2021 Climate Resilience Asia Pacific Accelerator program, a collaboration between Miller Center and Chevron. This is the second program supporting Chevron’s contribution to the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Asia Pacific region.

According to the World Bank, climate change has not slowed down and its connection with human wellbeing and poverty is increasingly visible. Unchecked, it will push 132 million people into poverty over the next 10 years, undoing hard-won development gains. The Climate Resilience Asia Pacific cohort directly addressed the most significant barriers for the region’s highest potential social entrepreneurs — those solving for reliable, affordable, low-carbon solutions that scale — with high-touch support from our mentor network, local Asia Pacific leaders, and Chevron staff. All of the social entrepreneurs focused on one or more of the following:

  • Energy, by providing access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy
  • Water, ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation
  • Climate-smart agriculture, implementing sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices to increase productivity and production

After working through six-months of business and impact model curriculum with assigned Miller Center mentors, the program culminated in December with rigorous feedback panel sessions. These sessions, designed to simulate investor diligence meetings, gave participants an opportunity to receive feedback in real-time on their business and fundraising plans. In addition to the assigned curriculum, the program also included special webinars hosted by Chevron experts on the topics of human resources, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), governance, and board management. There was also an opportunity for participants to work with the Asia Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) to be featured on their Deal Share Platform.

Miller Center and Chevron worked together to conduct a robust marketing campaign that leveraged social media especially, through a series of videos and here are three examples:

Following a successful pilot program partnership supporting mini-grids in Myanmar and now this Climate Resilience Asia Pacific cohort, Miller Center is excited to continue collaborating with Chevron in further supporting social entrepreneurs who are directly addressing the nexus between the climate crisis and people living in poverty.

Congratulations and welcome to Miller Center’s newest social entrepreneur graduates!

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Expanding the Journey: Introducing Miller Center’s Alumni Solutions

Miller Center has come a long way in the past year and a half since embarking on the strategic visioning process led by Executive Director Brigit Helms. As I reflect on where we started and where we are headed, the words of C.S. Lewis comes to mind: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Miller Center Journey

As part of Miller Center’s 2025 strategy, we envisioned a future that continued to build on previous years’ success to scale our impact. We even gave ourselves the ambitious goal to achieve the same depth of impact over the next five years that we have attained over our 17-year history and continue to make our center the foremost accelerator for sustainable social enterprises in the world.

But how do we plan to execute this strategy exactly? The world and the social enterprises that work in it have evolved and grown so much in the 17 years since we first began the journey of accelerating social entrepreneurs. To continue to operate as we previously have in years past no longer makes sense. The answer is that Miller Center must evolve too, and the best way to achieve a greater depth of impact is to focus our energy and resources on a particular subset of social enterprises with strong scalable and replicable models. Our goal is to help these organizations in building their capacity to more effectively fight poverty, improve lives, and transform markets.

With the goal of focusing our efforts on social entrepreneurs with the highest potential, Miller Center has made an intentional pivot in our alumni strategy. Historically, alumni engagement was managed in a light-touch, one-size-fits-all manner, attempting to serve all alumni social entrepreneurs in the same way and resulting in a minimal value exchange. We believe that focusing alumni resources on targeted, bespoke interventions for the highest potential alumni, especially in investment facilitation and value-add impact measurement and management tools, will help us achieve our 2025 vision.

My Journey and the Social Enterprise Journey

With an intentional focus on alumni of our programs, we have grown and expanded the Miller Center journey for our social entrepreneurs, so that even after they complete an accelerator program, they will continue to receive support. In parallel with Miller Center’s strategy, my journey at the Center has also evolved. This past summer, I transitioned from program managing accelerators for new social entrepreneurs to supporting and directing the Miller Center alumni community. What initially felt like a daunting challenge, with many different approaches to consider, turned into an exciting opportunity as our team outlined a social enterprise roadmap that helped identify customized solutions for the most scalable social entrepreneurs to grow their business and impact.

As highlighted in the roadmap below, the journey with Miller Center really begins after completing an accelerator program.

Alumni Suite of Solutions

Our new strategy builds on sustained support with a robust set of offerings that include continuing resources, extra levels of customized support, and fostered

and facilitated relationships such as specialized mentoring, peer-to-peer engagement, external partnerships, and more opportunities to engage directly with Santa Clara University faculty and students.

Programs and Short Courses

Among alumni solutions, we launched an Alumni Leadership Coaching Program and a Bespoke Mentoring Program which provide one-on-one leadership coaching and mentorship to tackle leadership and business challenges unique to the social entrepreneur and their enterprise. Also initiated this year was the inaugural cohort for the  Investment Readiness Program which provides self-guided access to the Duke CASE Smart Impact Capital curriculum. Additionally, we developed an Impact Model Short Course to help alumni further refine their impact model and metrics.


We also launched our Africa, Asia, and Latin America Leadership Circles. Facilitated by experienced Miller Center mentors, this 6-month program is a peer-to-peer forum that provides a support system for CEOs to work through challenges, get impartial feedback, and become more confident decision-makers.


This fall we hosted a webinar in partnership with our friends at FairTrade to offer guidance on their certification process, as well as a webinar on Investor Outreach Tactics to provide further support on how best to leverage the CASE Smart Impact Capital content.

Santa Clara University Engagement

After a successful pilot, Miller Center is expanding our new Internship program as well as the Fellowship for SCU students to support greater numbers of high-potential social enterprise alumni. This summer we also began a partnership with the Leavey School of Business to launch an eMBA Marketing class in which Miller Center alumni receive marketing support from MBA students. Miller Center also extended grants to two SCU faculty in which they will be paired with select alumni to conduct research on impact evaluation and supply chain challenges.

Integral to our alumni strategy planning was the creation of our new Social Enterprise Advisory Council. The Council is composed of eight outstanding Miller Center social entrepreneur alumni who range widely in sector and location. Their perspectives bring the voice of the customer and have helped inform our decisions around the type of support that is most needed by social entrepreneurs.

Alumni Landing Page

Tying all of these solutions together is Miller Center’s brand new Alumni Landing Page which is accessible via our Community Platform. For the first time ever, social enterprise alumni will have access to a one-stop-shop resource with all of the current and upcoming opportunities available to them.

More Alumni Opportunities in 2022

Miller Center is just getting started on this journey, and we are very excited to continue to offer more opportunities for alumni in the new year. Among those are the ScaleOut program set to launch in February 2022 and a week-long in-person In-Residence in April 2022 which will be hosted at Miller Center’s new office in the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation at Santa Clara University.

As one can clearly see, Miller Center is doing a heck of a lot for our social entrepreneur alumni. Our center is committed to accompanying social enterprises on their journeys, and we are in it for the long haul!

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Miller Center Expands Commitment to Women’s Economic Empowerment with New Accelerator

When we think about what achievement looks like for Miller Center in the year 2025, we picture our center as one of the most successful accelerators in the world for scalable social enterprises. In order to achieve this, Miller Center has made the intentional decision to focus on social enterprises who incorporate these two key areas — Climate Resilience and Women’s Economic Empowerment. Focusing on social entrepreneurs within these areas will enable Miller Center to produce more scalable and replicable models with the capacity to more effectively fight poverty and transform markets. With our upcoming accelerator, Miller Center is supporting social enterprises that are taking a robust and holistic approach to supporting women in all aspects of business. We are very excited to announce the launch of our first Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) cohort. In addition to including women-led businesses, this cohort also encompasses organizations that incorporate other important WEE dimensions: women as employees, value chain participants, and customers.

Miller Center’s Learning Journey to Better Support WEE

An overwhelming number of studies and research prove that empowering women economically goes beyond the success of the individual woman or business; it is a global good. If women and men participated equally as entrepreneurs, the global GDP would rise by approximately 3% to 6%, adding $2.5 trillion to $5 trillion to the global economy. This strengthens Miller Center’s decision to take a 360 degree approach in supporting women in all facets of business. By valuing the needs and perspectives of the social enterprises we accompany and by paying attention to gender lens research released by ecosystem partners, our center continues to be on a learning journey so that we are best equipped to be part of the solution in creating systems that are inclusive and rid of long standing biases.

With the release of the 2016 white paper, Turning on the Lights, Miller Center first recognized the power of women entrepreneurs. But it wasn’t until 2019 that we really prioritized women in business and acknowledged the unique needs of women leaders by introducing a women-led affinity group within a cohort. Learning from the needs of the women in this affinity group   prompted Miller Center to focus an entire cohort the following year on women leaders. One of the learnings applied to this particular cohort included greater emphasis on leadership coaching as a means to increase confidence and level the playing field.

Building New Ecosystems and Partnerships to Achieve WEE

As Miller Center’s Executive Director Brigit Helms recently wrote in this “Times of Entrepreneurship” Op-Ed piece, in order for women entrepreneurs to succeed, new networks and ecosystems need to be cultivated, especially when it comes to fundraising. In addition to providing executive mentorship combined with a structured curriculum to help them become stronger fundraisers, the WEE program will also offer one-on-one leadership coaching, gender inclusion trainings hosted by Value For Women, and an invitation from Santa Clara University’s Silicon Valley Executive Center to access its online leadership and management certificate course, Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. As part of Miller Center’s own journey in helping make WEE the norm and not the exception, building partnerships across Santa Clara University with centers like the Silicon Valley Executive Center and externally with thought leaders such as Value For Women will continue to play an important role in our learning journey narrative.

Welcome Miller Center’s Largest Cohort to Date

Of the 250 applicants, 31 selected enterprises were invited to participate in this year’s WEE cohort. These enterprises were selected based on their stage of development and the fact that they are addressing one or more of the four dimensions of our WEE strategy. Their collective impact spans multiple countries including South Africa, Angola, Botswana,Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Vietnam, Spain, Malawi, USA, Uganda, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Haiti, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and the Philippines.

The cohort officially launched on February 23, 2021 and will culminate in August 2021 with intensive feedback panel presentations. Miller Center is excited to announce its latest and largest cohort to date of social enterprises who are creating models of success and addressing women’s economic empowerment in their mission to provide a pathway out of poverty for the communities they support. Read more about each enterprise below.


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