Nov 25, 2015

HERA Update

Thank you for your continued support for HERA! Your giving has helped to improve the lives of women from over 20 countries affected by the rapidly growing business of human trafficking and re-trafficking.

Since HERA began, more than 360 women have gone through our entrepreneurship training and mentoring programs. This year, we had 35 students in our London summer entrepreneurship training and year round mentoring program and seven in our Seattle program. Below, a mentor and mentee share about their mentoring relationships:

'She is hardworking, very passionate about accounting and is also very keen to meet up with me to get some advice.' - HERA mentor sharing about their mentee

'I find her quite warm and encouraging, perfect pairing!' - HERA mentee sharing about her mentor

Over the past three years, 85% of the HERA women have gone on to obtain employment or apprenticeships, enroll in degree programs, and/or start new ventures. Some of the London ventures this year include a popcorn and events business and dressmaking. Some 12 HERA women benefited from a Careers' Day at Salesforce in the City in early September and learned about careers in the IT industry. We also have an average of 20 women, mentors, and Imperial business students attending our monthly "First Wednesday Evening Seminars." These seminars, taught primarily by Imperial doctoral candidates, have been lively and exciting. They have helped create a more entrepreneurial and supportive community, as demonstrated by feedback from attendees:   

‘It is really nice to see different social backgrounds and such a strong willingness to learn.’

‘This event was a good social and professional networking opportunity, since I got to meet people that have similar interests to me.'

‘This event was very helpful to me as I can apply it every day in my future workplace.'

To date, through the HERA grants program for women-led ventures in Central and Eastern Europe, we have awarded 138 grants totaling more than €110,000 to prevent dangerous migration and trafficking. An estimated 500 young women have been employed and trained through these investments. From June through October this year, five different teams of volunteer business men and women awarded 32 grants totaling approximately £25,000. Our team recently returned from Armenia, where one of our new grant recipients is using these funds to train young women at risk of trafficking to become professional nannies. In Georgia, a young woman on the Abkhazian border sources her nut production from young refugee women on both sides of the border. In Romania, two young Roma recent university graduates have returned to their rural village to help form a women's cooperative for lavender production to improve economic opportunities in their communities.

Demand for HERA’s programs is growing. We look forward to an exciting year ahead and plan to expand our work to more young women. Human trafficking is a £98 billion criminal industry that exploits hundreds of thousands of women and girls around the world. Creating access to legitimate economic alternatives plays a significant role in ending this pervasive problem. Our vision at HERA is to be an incubator of innovative, women-centered entrepreneurship models that can be scaled through business schools and with other business mentors around the world.

Your support makes this a reality! We invite you to consider sponsoring a HERA entrepreneur this holiday season. £100/month fully funds a young woman to complete our year long entrepreneurship training and mentoring program at Imperial College Business School. Every gift you make – no matter the amount – will positively impact a woman’s life. Thank you for helping young women in harm’s way pursue their career aspirations and achieve economic autonomy!  

Give the Greatest Gift: Honor your loved ones this holiday season by giving a donation in their name! It’s easy, just click here! 

For USA donors: Maximize your giving this holiday season! Every recurring donation made in December will receive a one-time 100% match. Click here to give!

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*Please note that, in order to protect the identities of trafficking survivors in our programs, we do not publish their names or pictures. 


Aug 27, 2015


Imperial Graduation Day Festivities
Imperial Graduation Day Festivities

HERA (Her Equality Rights and Autonomy) mobilizes business and academic expertise, creativity, and entrepreneurship to prevent and counter the multibillion business of human trafficking. HERA achieves this objective by providing women survivors of trafficking, conflict, and other forms of violence with professional skills and networks to pursue their career ambitions.


For over a decade, HERA has trained over 300 women survivors and 260 mentors in four countries to prevent re-trafficking. Each summer for the past eight years, HERA delivers an intensive three-week entrepreneurship program for 36 women survivors at Imperial College London Business School. Professors, business executives, graduate students, and entrepreneurs volunteer time and expertise for this training. In 2015 HERA is launching its first entrepreneurship training and mentoring programme in Seattle in collaboration with the Business School at Seattle University.


At Imperial HERA also trains London businesswomen and men to coach and mentor the women who successfully complete the training by presenting their business plans. Throughout the year, HERA then organizes monthly evening and weekend seminars for the women, MBA students, and mentors.


With significant in-kind and financial support from business, leading universities, private trusts, and international financial institutions, HERA is remarkably cost effective. Our cutting edge entrepreneurship and mentor training costs £800/trafficked woman. That amount also covers materials, transport, food, childcare costs and some housing for women to attend the summer program.


Following the training and mentoring, 85% of UK women survivors report positive career development measured as: finding employment, piloting a venture or self-employment, acceptance into higher education, and/or advancing their careers through apprenticeships and internships. Over 80% of mentoring relationships complete the year cycle with over 33% continuing on a second year or more.


To date HERA has also awarded over 120 grants to women’s ventures in five Eastern European countries to prevent trafficking. 87% (of 95% of ventures funded through 2013 and evaluated on site) are sustaining or growing these ventures leading to the creation of 500 new jobs. The average grant cost used to purchase essential capital equipment for each venture is £700.


HERA’s total operating costs are £75,000 per annum (2014 accounts). HERA is currently working to raise an educational endowment of £2 million to sustain the training and create an incubator for similar programs in other business schools and countries. We will continue to be entrepreneurial in attracting the best business and academic talent and expertise to provide serious economic alternatives to prevent and address trafficking, violence, exploitation and conflict in all women’s lives.

Mentoring Programme
Mentoring Programme
HERA's International Grants Programme - PreSchool
HERA's International Grants Programme - PreSchool


Aug 5, 2013

HERA update August 2013

The last three months since we last submitted our report has been a particularly successful period for HERA.  In May we secured a five-year partnership with Imperial Business School to support our annual entrepreneurship programme and we have also received positive publicity for the work we are doing, most recently with a feature on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s hour.

After a successful recruitment drive of both mentors and mentees we hosted our seventh annual HERA entrepreneurship programme at Imperial College.  Firstly in June we provided seven hours of mentorship training and education on trafficking to high calibre mentors from a range of professional and business backgrounds e.g. law, healthcare, banking and finance.

Then in July we ran our 12-day entrepreneurship programme for 36 protégés.  We were delighted with this year’s cohort and their presentations at the end of the course highlighted that learning outcomes had been achieved.  We believe that with the support of their mentors, many of our protégés will achieve their career and business aspirations.

Whilst the entrepreneurship programme has been our main focus to date, we recognised that the stigma of having been trafficked discouraged women we have helped from staying in contact.   Therefore we have been unable to provide more sustainable support after the years mentorship to ensure career aspirations are met and business ventures continue.  To overcome this we have expanded our target group of women we aim to serve, to include those that have also suffered from other forms of sexual exploitation or abuse.  In addition, we have developed the concept of an Innovation Centre, which has just opened in Shoreditch, London for 8 hours each week.  This is available to past, present and potential future mentees (referred by our partner charities).  The centre is also to host bi monthly seminars, open to both mentors and mentees.  We believe the Innovation Centre will create a HERA community, encouraging more women to stay in contact with us, through which we will be able to support more vulnerable women to access our expertise and support to achieve economic autonomy.

This work would not be possible without the support we have received from Global Giving. Over the next three months we will be working to ensure the Innovation Centre is up and running and utilised effectively to ensure our aims are met.

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