Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship

by HERA (Her Economic Rights and Autonomy)
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship
Nadeja's New Product Lines
Nadeja's New Product Lines

The economic and social consequences of the pandemic have been disproportionately challenging for young women throughout the world. Many face double and triple burdens of looking after children and the elderly while working from home to produce needed goods and services.  

During a Special COVID Competition last spring, the HERA teams learned how young women entrepreneurs in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine have devised creative strategies to keep families, ventures, employees and communities afloat during lockdowns.  Such strategies included selling online, providing home deliveries, changing products and services (e.g., mask and protective equipment), and developing new lines and businesses to address market demands generated by the pandemic.  HERA’s Competition awards, ranging from 100 to 300 euros, were a small recognition of the women’s creativity and resilience. More importantly, women told us that they appreciated the HERA team reaching out beyond our own national concerns to show that we cared how this pandemic had affected them.

In June the HERA France Association launched our Annual Grants Competition.  Although the initial judging already takes place online, this year the HERA France teams also volunteered many hours to judge the finalists’ ventures virtually as well.  With basic survival issues at stake for many in Europe and the US, our funds were limited this year. Although we awarded only 30 grants (12%) out of 251 applicants across the four countries, almost 100% of our funding went directly for grants for the women’s ventures.

Armenia

In Armenia, women entrepreneurs faced two pandemic waves, attendant shocks to the Armenian economy, and war with Azerbaijan. Although the Russian Government recently brokered a cease fire, Armenians are faced now with resettling an estimated 90,000 refugees. Several women entrepreneurs and family members were on the frontline during the hostilities. Many ventures, particularly in Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh), were shut down by the bombing and mass destruction of critical infrastructure in Stepanakert and outlying communities. 

Despite these circumstances, the Armenian applications constituted 137 (54%) of this year’s submissions.  With limited resources, the team could only fund 12 (9%). Looking ahead to 2021, however, the team provided awards to the two Armenian HERA volunteers, who are coordinating, mentoring and supporting many young women entrepreneurs. One of our volunteers is also actively helping resettle refugees from Nagorno Karabakh.

Among the many worthy Armenian applications this year, the team funded the Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (SOAR), a social venture. SOAR, run by three women, provides transitional housing for young women, 18 - 25 years of age, after they leave orphanages.  SOAR currently houses five young women residents. During the day, they offer vocational training, sewing, embroidery, life skills, and day-care for many young women and their children.

The SOAR team also helps refugee children in Nagorno Karabakh and provides stipends for scholarship students in Yerevan. SOAR has received funding from charitable organizations in the US and Germany.  Because SOAR helps vulnerable young women, who are at risk of trafficking, the HERA team provided a grant for additional sewing machines and scissors for their vocational and entrepreneurship training.

Georgia

Out of 20 Georgian applicants, the team funded two (10%) this year.  One is a small café/restaurant in a Kist village in Pankisi Gorge.  The Kists, a Georgian ethnic minority, originally came from Chechnya. Over the past decade, the Pankisi Gorge population has almost doubled with an influx of Kist refugees fleeing across the Chechen border. During this same period, Western governments have launched raids and/or pressured the Georgian Government to crack down on international terrorism in the region. With periodic anti-terrorist operations, the situation in Pankisi Gorge has remained quite volatile and at times dangerous for the local rural civilian population. 

Diana, the young woman owner of a small café/restaurant, has been providing home deliveries to surrounding villages during the pandemic. With her family’s help, she has decided to open a bakery and employ one to two other young women.  Diana studied economics in Tbilisi and could easily find work in the city.  However, she and her husband chose to return to their village to develop their community. The HERA team provided Diana with a grant for an industrial mixer and freezer to store the dough for her new bakery operation. 

Moldova

On 15 November, Ms. Maia Sandu from the Action and Solidarity Party become Moldova’s first woman President. The incumbent, Mr Dodon, was openly backed by President Vladimir Putin. Ms. Sandu, 48 years of age and a former World Bank economist, favors closer ties with the European Union. Her priorities are to tackle corruption and unite the country.   

This year, the HERA team awarded nine grants (29%) out of 31 submissions from Moldova. Nadeja, a HERA grantee from 2019, used her first grant to purchase a dehydrator for a dried fruit business. Starting with two dehydrator machines at the time, she now has six and has hired two women.  After losing her main sales’ outlet when coffee shops closed during the lockdown, she made up the loss by selling through drug stores which remained open, and obtained the nation’s leading drug store as a distribution point. Nadeja also opened new product lines, including dried fruit teas and gifts for holidays, religious occasions, and care packages. With the increased sales, she reported working harder than ever during lockdown.  

Nadeja recently began producing nut butters and secured an interest from Transnistria’s largest supermarket chain. The supermarket needed a guarantee that she could supply large enough quantities to meet their demand. Her home machine was not sufficient and she will also need to hire at least one more women. Nadeja observed, “at the moment I sell from 50-70 cans per week. In order to sell more, I need to increase production capacity. Now we are working on a professional blender, but it has very low performance. If I can get this grant, then after completing all the documents for nut and peanut butter, I will be able to offer my products to a large supermarket chain in our republic.”  HERA awarded her a grant for a commercial nut blender.

Ukraine

In Ukraine, the HERA team funded seven (11%) of 63 applicants and provided a mentoring award for our local coordinator.  Iryna, one of the grantees, runs a children’s business school in Cherkasy.  Parents pay monthly tuition, which allowed Iryna to continue paying salaries to five teachers (aged 22 to 30 years old) and two trainers, paid by the hour, during the lockdown. Her school has a classroom in a shared space in the city centre. 

Although Iryna struggled to keep the school going last spring, during the summer she organised a camp that was in high demand. By moving some classes online, she has been able to keep the school at 90% capacity this autumn.  Iryna needed a laptop to install a CRM programme for program administration. With the laptop she also plans to hire an administrator.  HERA awarded her a grant towards the laptop. 

Through interviews with entrepreneurs in the four countries, the HERA volunteers heard firsthand how young women and their communities have been affected by the pandemic.  The economic downturns are creating conditions that even now are leading to dangerous migration and trafficking.  Armenia in particular has faced both political conflict and economic instability with the potential to spread to other Eastern European countries.  Despite these uncertainties, young women are continuing to operate impressive ventures and generate new employment.   A woman leader, who has vowed to tackle corruption, has become Moldova’s first woman President.  

In 2021 we hope to support even more women entrepreneurs to help rebuild hard hit economies and to visit their ventures once again.  We thank all our contributors, who have made these grants possible. Our entire team wishes all the best for you, your families, and communities during this season and in the year ahead.

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HERA Mentor & Soroptimist Preparing the Gift Bags
HERA Mentor & Soroptimist Preparing the Gift Bags

HERA uniquely addresses two ends of the counter-trafficking interventions’ spectrum: (1) prevention of trafficking; and (2) reintegration of survivors.  HERA’s mission is to promote young women’s entrepreneurship and employment to counter trafficking and re-trafficking.  The prevention of re-trafficking, in turn, depends on the women survivors’ successful reintegration.

HERA’s international grants, training, and assessment activities for young women entrepreneurs in Eastern Europe aim at prevention while our entrepreneurship and mentoring program in London, a major trafficking destination, supports reintegration.  This quarterly report focuses on HERA’s London activities during the pandemic. This report begins with two profiles, next describes the support the HERA team provided to survivors in London during COVID, and finally, in response to the new normal, discusses how HERA’s reintegration and prevention activities are going online.

Two HERA Women Profiles

Ruth[1]a mature HERA student with two childrenfled Nigeria after repeated beatings from her husband.   Shortly after arriving in London, she was referred to and attended HERA’s three-week Summer Entrepreneurship Program.  At the end of the training, she wrote to the team, “Thank you, HERA, for giving me the opportunity to participate, it was an experience and an eye-opener to me towards being my own boss.”  Ruth also told the team that she was convinced when she completed the HERA training that she had done the right thing for herself and her children’s future.  

Wishing to help others move on in their lives, Ruth volunteered at an immigration center to give back what she had learned from her own experiences and from attending HERA. In advising and supporting other families, who had fled other difficult experiences, she felt less alone. She also began studying social care and psychology at night so as to provide better support for the immigrants she was trying to help. In August, with her HERA mentor’s assistance, Ruth applied to study psychology at Goldsmiths, University of  London and was chosen amongst hundreds of applicants.  She reported that joining the HERA Program and working with her mentor motivated her to take on new challenges for herself and her children. Thanking her mentor, Ruth wrote, “You are more than a mentor to me, because you believe in me, giving words of encouragement is more than enough for me.  Words cannot say how much I appreciate you.” 

Many HERA students wait several years to obtain a ruling on their immigration status at the end of which they may be allowed to become resident in the UK, or with an unfavorable decision, risk being deported. During this limbo period, they cannot be employed for pay, obtain public housing, or register for a degree program. 

Agnes, a HERA graduate from the 2018/19 cohort, waited patiently for her residency status for seven years. During that time, she volunteered for several charities and helped out at a local community coffee shop. She also studied IT & Technology online over a year’s time. After Agnes finally received UK residency status this summer, she finished an intensive IT Training course. Even after obtaining her residency, Agnes continued to participate in HERA’s monthly workshops to meet up with her mentor and to offer her own support to the newest cohort of students. Her upbeat spirit and determination have been an inspiration to other HERA women and mentors and to all the UK team. 

HERA Support During COVID to London Survivors 

Following lockdown in the UK in March, Sophie-Rose Holt, HERA UK’s Program Director, Joanne Chidwick, the UK Chair of Trustees, and Professor Ebrahim Mohamed, Academic Director, telephoned the 2019 HERA women graduates to see how they were faring and what support they might need. During the calls, 15 of 17 women reached, reported increased loneliness, helplessness, and reliving of past trauma.  

The women also reported their lack of access to cell phones and/or laptops. As the team observed, the pandemic exposed the women’s digital poverty and increased the digital divide between the haves and have nots. Only one of 15 women owned or had access to a laptop. All reported struggling to obtain regular access to internet. To address this issue,  the HERA UK team distributed new smartphones to three women who lacked any form of communication and two iPad’s to young mothers, who needed to help their children continue schooling. The HERA UK team is also building a digital lending library of smartphones, tablets and laptops to provide to current, past, and future HERA women so that they will have access to the HERA training and other programs.  

To support the HERA women during the lockdown, the UK team has distributed 70 monthly support packages since April and will continue these support packages until October. The packages include £10 ($12.92) data top up vouchers to provide women isolated in shelters with online access to  studies, mentoring, and communication with families, friends, and colleagues. Private and corporate sponsors paid for hand sanitizers and washable face masks in the packages. The Soroptimists of East London sponsored personalized tote bags in the June packages and American Express purchased Marks & Spencer vouchers for the August ones.

HERA’s Entrepreneurship Training Goes Digital 

“HERA Online”, currently being developed by the UK team, takes the essential, basic financial literacy and business skills from our in-person Entrepreneurship Program to place it in the digital environment. With Salesforce’s support in building the platform online, the training includes sessions from past speakers from leading business schools, the corporate sector and startup entrepreneurs.  Through “HERA Online” women survivors will be able to access these basic skills along with some support for personal development via their smartphones. The course is self-study and provides a community forum and virtual mentoring to reinforce the learning experiences and provide access to the larger social networks of a digital world. 

This Autumn, “HERA Online”, in its final stages of development, goes into its testing phase with current and past HERA students, and our charity partners. “HERA Online” is designed to provide access to the basic skills taught in the HERA Entrepreneurship Program to women survivors in shelters throughout the UK, to those working or awaiting an immigration decisions, and to mothers with childcare responsibilities who may not have time to attend an in-person course. The team expects “HERA Online” to reach over 100 women each year. Some parts of the program may be useful and extended to our entrepreneur networks in Central and Eastern Europe. 

“HERA Online” will also feed into HERA’s in-person, London program for June 2021. Students for next year’s summer program will be recruited from those who successfully pass the online course and can benefit from an in-person program that builds on the knowledge gained with live examples and activities. The HERA Entrepreneurship Program will then be designed for and targeted to the women survivors, who specifically want to become entrepreneurs and/or pursue a business career. 

Prevention Plans Ahead 

Given the difficult economic times, HERA's international grants competition to prevent trafficking received 254 applications from women venture owners in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. This unprecedented demand also reflected the hard work of our Armenian mentor, Anna Hovhannisyan, who organized an online workshop; our local NGO partners in all four countries; and the kindness of several volunteers, former grantees, and translators in spreading the word.  HERA's France team has reviewed and ranked all applications. Since we cannot travel to the countries this year, teams of two volunteer assessors are meeting with and interviewing the finalists online.  Our local partners have also volunteered to provide direct follow up support where needed.

Our next quarterly will report on the results of our online engagements.  Until then we wish all the HERA community and our supporters to stay safe, healthy and well and to keep your own entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in these unusual times.

 

 

 

[1] Ruth and Agnes are pseudonyms and their stories are slightly modified to protect their identities.

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Honey Producers in Moldova
Honey Producers in Moldova

HERA’s Special SARS COV-2 competition, launched in early April, proved the strength and resilience of the HERA women entrepreneurs in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.  The vast majority of our grantees are finding creative ways to respond to a “new normal” while actively supporting their employees and communities.  As reported in our special report, all four countries, as in the rest of Europe, were affected by the virus and locked down in March.  

Many grantees expressed appreciation for HERA’s Special Competition and for “remembering us” in these hard times. By the April 26th deadline for responses, HERA had received 52 applications from women entrepreneurs in the four countries.  Eight reviewers from France, Germany and the UK selected three prize winners, who are receiving awards of EUR 300, 200, and 150. Given so many thoughtful responses in English and the grantees’ languages, the HERA team awarded an additional eight honorable mentions (EUR 100 each). Four HERA France Association members funded the awards to save GlobalGiving donors’ funds for the 2020 Annual Grants Competition this summer. 

Learning about the challenges and negative impacts of SARS COV-2 on grantees’ ventures is useful for designing the upcoming 2020 competition and assessing this year’s ventures. Besides the personal, psychological, and financial hardships that many women are facing, especially those whose businesses are closed, other challenges to economic survival include: 

  • higher input and supply chain costs for production;
  • shortages and stoppages of needed supplies and materials;
  • losses of national and international customers and sales;
  • delays and stoppages of transport to local, national, and international markets;
  • shutdown of services (tourism, restaurant, hotels, schools, beauty, etc.); and
  • food shortages, but also food rotting because the lack of transport to market.

Armenia and Ukraine also have had conflicts on their borders during this period. All four countries have imports and export deliveries held up at international borders.    

The industries worst affected are not surprisingly: (1) services (tourism, beauty salons, restaurants, schools and language programs); (2) manufacturing that depends on supplies and inputs from other regions; and (3) commercial (but not subsistence) agriculture.  All ventures dependent on trade are suffering. Cross border and even internal trade of many essential goods has slowed and in some cases, ceased.  As a producer in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) observes, she can no longer even send her products to the Yerevan market.  

The women entrepreneurs have developed short- and long-term strategies to respond to the COVID impact on their ventures.  One consistent strategy is producing for local markets and consumption.  Armenian and Ukrainian owners of tourist ventures are developing local packages for different age groups and targeting a “Domesticmarket.  Using a similar strategy for a different industry, a greenhouse producer reports:

our greenhouse was full of vegetables. Some of them were grown on contract. We expected high returns. But when those companies were banned, we faced the fact. We delayed the salaries for 2 months. With the help of our employees, we collected the harvest, made baskets and distributed them to all the residents of the community several times. We decided to help our fellow villagers and sow their cabbage seeds in our greenhouse for further planting. 

As this producer, several venture owners are taking a social enterprise approach and working collectively with local communities to respond to the virus impact.  Our first prize winner, Orran, an Armenian NGO, reports:  

We are providing food packages to more than 200 poor and needy families and 90 lonely elderly as well as provide them online psychological and counseling support. These people are the most vulnerable groups who need our support especially during this period. Some of them are losing their homes as they are not able to pay for the rent, or unable to pay for the utilities. We do our best to seek funds to cover all of these needs. 

Several women are retooling companies to diversify and/or produce essential goods during this period. A Georgian vintner focuses her wine sales on high-end, international customers. However, with food shortages in the local market and to diversify production, she reports: 

We decide to plant our 4 hectare this year with different crop – Beans on 2 hectares, potato, tomato, corn to the other 2.  It will give us a possibility to keep 4 ladies to work and even to get 2 men + tractor driver for job.

An Armenian dried fruit exporter has also shifted to selling fresh fruits in the local market. Small factory/atelier owners in Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova moved from producing school uniforms, cotton home textiles, clothes and neonatal products to masks and protective equipment. Some distribute masks to elderly people free-of-charge.   An architect in Ukraine uses the printer that HERA provided to produce “forms, instructions for doctors, informative booklets about the fight against the virus”, for hospitals and other medical institutions.  A Ukrainian photographer of children is using her skills and services for “reportage shooting for foundations, which help people who are going through the hard times.” 

Another strategy to attract local customers by decreasing prices while maintaining profit margins is lowering input costs.  An Armenian jeweler, who previously sold internationally, reports that “our company will have problems with decreasing demand for jewelry. To solve this problem, we plan to start producing jewelry made of wood and stones.” The same company, and several others, to stay afloat and keep all employed temporarily cut salaries across the board by 50%. 

A Georgian restaurateur stays open by using Uber for home deliveries but plans to decrease costs by organizing bicycle deliveries.  A successful Armenian butcher, who previously sold high end products nationally, writes: 

we help our employees and do not leave our customers hungry. We will not raise the price, moreover, every day we think about creating cheaper products more available to people. If this situation continues, we will sell goods at cost, but we will not make money on the misfortune of our fellow people.

Several venture owners added new product lines to reflect the changing demands.  An Armenian natural cosmetics venture keeps all legally employed by producing sanitizing lotions.  The third place winner, an Armenian beekeeper, keeps her team working with protective equipment (made by another HERA grantee); and as she reports, “For the first time we sell the people propolis tincture and have fantastic feedback. It helps people to be protected from viruses and bacteria and enhances the immune system.” 

Women leaders in manufacturing, food production, and educational and social services, have moved workplaces into people’s homes and/or online.  A sewing venture owner observes:We thought that if our employees could not come to the workshop, the workshop could go to their house.” A tailor, who also moved her atelier to home production, supports employees by organizing online discussions and education 

A Ukrainian NGO, and second place recipient, reports adapting its program by going online: 

Creative Quarantine is not educational, but rather supportive and engaging. The slogan of this project is “You are not alone”. Since late March, we have already had 25 daily Facebook-lives (30-minutes long). The topics vary from taking care of your mental health during the pandemic to crisis management during the lockdown (other examples of topics: how to balance your work from home and childcare, creative writing as a self-help tool, social activism during the quarantine, how to support local brands during the lockdown, how to overcome the fear of losing your job, etc.). We invite both experienced female speakers and those who have  never done webinars. We have planned 80 speakers and lives on Facebook until June 2020. 

Several ventures -- a jewelry store, fashion house, and gift shop -- moved to or expanded online marketing; others offer English and arts education online courses; and a former toy producer provides digital books for parents and children to make their own toys. A café owner organizes home deliveries of her coffee and roasted beans. 

A few changed their business completely. With her café closed, a young entrepreneur and her mother have organized a sock business for women to knit in their homes.  A hotelier of a small guest house for international clients is opening a pub for local customers instead. 

A few women are using this time to prepare their business for a new normal.  A Moldovan beauty salon owner, reports: “I am already prepared with disinfectants, protective masks, I am ready to respect all the hygiene rules. I am waiting for the announcement from the ministry that we can open the business.”   Many are essential frontline workers and cannot afford to wait. They have adapted production, as an Armenian baker reports by “disinfecting operations, staff wear special equipment, limiting contact with the outside world, and keeping to the rules.”   A tea manufacturer writes: 

we have rented 2 areas so that we can carry out the packaging, now in 3 different places, so that there is no big accumulation of employees, they work in groups of 3-4 people.  We will do the work at great expense.We have decided not to make reductions and to work for a while with a deficit, but to keep people's work, because in these conditions they need this job, money.We have to buy new uniforms, gloves and other accessories for 17 employeesfor 2 month, which can cost $ 500-570.However, we will keep the jobs, already having big losses for this year 

HERA’s premise is that support to women entrepreneurs is the best way to create employment and prevent dangerous migration and trafficking.  These women are proving their commitment to their employees and communities in hard times.  Thank you for your support to them!

Meat producers in Armenia
Meat producers in Armenia
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Team Making Masks in Armenia
Team Making Masks in Armenia
In April the HERA team usually launches our annual online "International Grants' Competition for Women Entrepreneurs" to prevent dangerous migration and trafficking from Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.  The annual online competition is followed by assessments of ventures in the field.
 
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we have delayed this year's launch until summer.  In lieu of our launch, we have organized a small, "Extraordinary Competition" for past and present HERA grantees in the four countries to share their experiences and accounts of how they are coping with the virus to support families, ventures and communities (see Official Announcement below).
 
Background

All four countries report case and death rate trends that mirror those in the rest of Europe. Although national borders are closing everywhere, migrants, displaced, and refugees, who constitute a number of our grantees in all four countries and are the backbone of many economies, are having to return or move on.

Armenians also report renewed conflict on their Azeri border and food shortages as Russian trucks are delayed at the Georgian border. Some greenhouse producers can no longer bring their products to market. Moldovans have family members who were working in Italy and had to return quickly.  Georgians were exposed from their international trade and tourism, and quickly had to cancel direct flights to Wuhan. As elsewhere, coronavirus spread quickly and most cases now are from community transmission. A Ukrainian compares the current public hesitation to respond to this new threat to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, where the impact was initially invisible but eventually dramatic. Ukrainians, who recently lived through TB and measles epidemics, and conflict, may not have initially realized the extent of this new threat. Throughout the region, social isolation and lockdowns are officially in place. As everywhere in the world, this pandemic is having a negative economic impact.  Many ventures have had to close and many entrepreneurs and their families are struggling.

Response 

Given the pandemic's economic impact on our grantees, we decided to launch an “Extraordinary Competition”. Although delaying the Annual Competition, we did not want to ignore the immediate impact of this virus on our local partners, mentors and women entrepreneurs. We still hope and plan to launch our annual competition in the summer and are saving for that.

The main objective of this small competition is for the women entrepreneurs to share positive experiences and strategies for coping with this virus.  Unfortunately, for some, we have already heard that even our small award amounts are needed. The Announcement went out in early April and already we have over a dozen responses. Deadline for submissions is April 26.

Feedback To Date 
 
Three HERA grantees (one in Moldova and two in Armenia) have retooled small sewing factories and ateliers to make masks and/or protective equipment. An atelier in northern Armenia reports that they have made 2,500 masks so far and give them free-of-charge to elderly neighbors. An Armenian mentor writes that the Campaign Announcement was the “best news”  she has had in three weeks. She then produced a short video in Armenian to distribute the announcement widely and organized a live Facebook session for women entrepreneurs and HERA team members. A local NGO leader reports that she has set up an online sewing course for her network of rural single women heads of households. A butcher shop owner has stopped sales and shipments of high end products to produce only meat products that her town can afford. A woman vintner in Georgia, anticipating future food shortages, is organizing local women to plant new crops of vegetables.
 
Several HERA Team members from France, the UK, Italy, Serbia, and Armenia have also benefitted from an online seminar by Jaimie Shires, a workplace mental health specialist. Our appreciation goes to Dr. Walter Gontarek,  CEO and co-founder of Channel Capital Advisors, an asset management and FinTech firm, who recommended and supported this seminar. Many thanks as well to the GlobalGiving team for your ongoing support. 
 
Although our awards for this new competition are small and there will be many honorable mentions, we hope that all of us will benefit from hearing some extraodinary accounts of the creativity and resilience of women entrepreneurs during this pandemic. We hope that you are also finding new resources in your own life and that you and your families are staying safe and well!
 
Happy Passover, Easter, Ramadan, and Spring!  




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The Yellow Scarf in London, UK

When a woman successfully completes the London summer entrepreneurship training, she receives a yellow chiffon scarf embroidered with HERA’s monogram.  Mentors, trainers, donors, staff and other friends of HERA also wear the scarf, signaling a community that supports women’s entrepreneurship to prevent trafficking. A woman’s scarf in the business world may be considered the equivalent of a man’s tie.  The scarf’s vibrant yellow adds color and life to business attire. These scarves are made by women entrepreneurs and to date, have been produced by a women’s small business in Cairo, a women’s atelier in Chisinau, two women graduates in the UK, and most recently by a fashion designer/entrepreneur in Yerevan.  When you see the yellow scarf at a business meeting, a member of the HERA community is there. 

The Beekeeper in Armenia

A young woman beekeeper developed “Bee Life”, a company that sells honey and bee products, including beeswax candles, cosmetics, and medicinal/herbal remedies.  The beekeeper also works with several women, who work at home and help in making the bee products and packaging. HERA helped the beekeeper buy an oven, beeswax sheet making machine, and four new hives. Given a decline last summer in honey production due to extreme climate conditions, the beekeeper decided to organize a cooperative of women honey producers. She provides each member of the cooperative a hive and instructs her in its care and maintenance. The women in turn supply honey for the cooperative to sell and to develop their bee products.  The beekeeper, who has become a mentor to many young women entrepreneurs in her town, explains her passion for supporting others: 

“I will never go from Armenia.  This is my town. I want to open a social entrepreneurship business for women.  I want to make classes for beekeeping for women so they will produce honey.  I want our town to become an apiary center.  Our beekeepers are women whose husbands have gone to Russia.” 

The Early Childhood Director in Tiraspol, Transnistria (Moldova)

A mother in Transnistria concerned about a lack of high quality, preschool education for her own children, started a Montessori school with a woman partner in 2017.  She had previously studied in Alabama, USA and through contacts there, she obtained support from an American Montessori program.  The American program provided her with teaching materials.  The two women rented and renovated a two-story building with outside space for their school.  They offer baby clubs, on-site childcare, and a morning pre-school Montessori program.  In a country where education is free, their school meets a growing demand for quality early childhood education. Thus, they are able to meet their costs, train additional young women to be teachers and pay the teachers’ salaries.  HERA provided this Early Childhood Director with a projector, printer, and some chairs.

London Summer Program Yellow Scarf
London Summer Program Yellow Scarf
Fashion Designer of Yellow Scarf in Yerevan
Fashion Designer of Yellow Scarf in Yerevan
Bee Life Products of Beekeeper in Armenia
Bee Life Products of Beekeeper in Armenia
Montessori School Director & HERA in Transnistria
Montessori School Director & HERA in Transnistria

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HERA (Her Economic Rights and Autonomy)

Location: Paris - France
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Twitter: @herequality
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Lynellyn Long
Sancerre, France
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