Entrepreneur Providing Cold Storage for Orchards
This Winter Update provides a few reflections and stock taking of HERA’s work that informs our directions in the coming decade. The HERA community, including many generous donors, works to prevent young women’s economic exploitation and slavery through supporting women’s entrepreneurship and employment. Counter trafficking programs traditionally address demand-side factors – law enforcement, information campaigns, and supply chains. In contrast, HERA focuses on young women themselves, who are at risk. By supporting women’s entrepreneurship and economic autonomy with grants, training, and mentoring, together, we believe that we can counter some of the major factors leading to economic exploitation and slavery. In so doing, we witness firsthand how young women survivors, with their demonstrated strength and resilience, and women entrepreneurs in regions with high rates of migration, gain economic autonomy and improve the economic welfare and status of many women in their communities.
Since 2005 HERA has organized entrepreneurship and mentor training beginning with our first programs in Belgrade and since 2008, with Imperial College in London. Over the years, HERA has trained 1026 people in eight countries – 624 in entrepreneurship and 402 in mentoring. This past year, the HERA UK teams, who to date have trained 343 women in London, added 18 new young women survivors and their mentors. In this past quarter, the 2019 women graduates and their mentors have continued to attend and actively participate in Wednesday Wisdom’s business seminars organized with private sector partners. At AmEx, the women were trained in social media, marketing, and public speaking. Salesforceprovided the graduates with a session on “Negotiation Skills” and for three of the HERA leadership team, a workshop on “Mentoring for Good”. Salesforcealso hosted the annual HERA UK holiday party.
A survey of 17 of 18 respondents from the 2019-20 cohort of “HERA women” found that eight are studying full time, nine are volunteering (seven in the charity sector and two in the private sector), and 14 are actively working with their mentors on a regular basis. One has found paid employment as a caseworker. Since most are in limbo about their status and awaiting an immigration decision, these data of their activities are especially impressive.
Each year we appreciate hearing some of the good outcomes from the HERA network of graduates, organizers, and mentors from past years. This year a HERA graduate just had her short story published in Ambit, a London literary and arts magazine, that has helped the careers of several famous writers since 1959. Other graduates report having employment they enjoy at Xeroxand John Lewis. An artist has had several installations and is showcasing cutting edge pieces online. Former HERA organizers are working for Facebook, a major London foundation, and for refugee organizations. Several organizers, mentors, and graduates have launched ventures. Thus, on 1stDecember 2019, HERA UK launched the “Charitable Sandhu Foundation Award” to provide grants to four HERA alumna ventures in the UK.
Beginning in 2010, HERA also launched the first international grants program in Georgia and Armenia. Since that time, HERA’s volunteer assessment teams have provided 315 grants in five countries. In 2019, following the 7thAnnual International Competition held online, four HERA teams provided grants with an average size of $666 (ranging from $68 to $1070) to 62 women entrepreneurs in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Two teams, with local partners and former grantees, also provided entrepreneurship training in Kyiv and Yerevan for over 60 women entrepreneurs. Traveling far and wide, each team visited women’s ventures in agriculture, food processing, architecture, the arts, manufacturing, education, retail, and services. Together with the women entrepreneurs, many of whom contributed to the purchase, the teams then bought several overlock sewing machines, a freezer, loom, pottery wheel, wine casket, computers, etc. for the successful applicants to “grow their ventures”.
The HERA grant impact goes far beyond the award size. Many women report that the award is the first time that all the hard work and risks they have taken to launch their ventures, are recognized. With the award, the women entrepreneurs often decide to reinvest some of their own funds to purchase more equipment and grow further. All commit to do their best to train and employ other young women at risk. Those with ventures in remote villages, in regions with ongoing conflict, in internally displaced person/refugee settlements, and in post-Soviet industrial by-gone towns, have attested that their entrepreneurship is making a difference not only to their own families, but also to young women at risk of dangerous migration and trafficking. This year alone, the 62 grants will help maintain and/or create 81 jobs in the four countries.
With the financial and in-kind support of a few companies, several hundred individuals, and two private foundations, HERA remains highly cost-effective. In 2019, our grants, training, and mentoring program expenditures totaled $95,228 - - $45,935 for the UK and $49,293 for the International Grants organized by the HERA France Association. That total represented an average cost of $2,552 for each UK women survivor to receive intensive entrepreneurship training, a year of regular business seminars, and a trained mentor. HERA UK also maintained its 4% overhead for all its administrative costs. Likewise, the HERA France Association provided 71% of its funding for the grants, 2% for entrepreneurship training, 25% for assessment costs, and the remaining 2% for administration (bank and accounting fees, and insurance). This ratio makes HERA one of the most cost-effective, small business programs in the sector.
In the coming decade, we plan to increase and grow the impact of HERA’s work both at home and abroad. We are pleased that others are taking up variations of the HERA model in their own organizations. However, continuing this approach depends on the efforts and contributions of the entire HERA community. Thanks to the generosity of many friends, colleagues, and anonymous contributors for the 2019 End-of-Year Campaign, we can already plan for our 2020 Grants Program, Mentoring, and Training. But we are only 50% of the way to continuing this same level of effort. Please consider supporting us in GlobalGiving’s Upcoming Girls’ and Women’s Campaign. Your support goes far! For supporters in London, please join us at this year’s, International Women’s Day Event. Thank you all once again.
HERA 2020 EventAttachments: