Prevent Trafficking in Women thru Entrepreneurship

by HERA (Her Economic Rights and Autonomy) France Association
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

Project Report | Apr 12, 2024
Spring Update 2024

By Lynellyn D. Long, Ph.D. | Project Leader

A Moldovan Entrepreneurs' Group
A Moldovan Entrepreneurs' Group

Spring is the season when the HERA team sends out our new “International Grants Competition” announcement (see below) and application form to encourage women entrepreneurs in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine to apply.  We share the announcement and application with former grantees, local and international partners, HERA Facebook groups, and any and all who have expressed an interest.   

This year’s Competition again encourages applications from women-led, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics’ (STEM) ventures.  Given rising temperatures, droughts, floods, fires, and other extreme weather conditions in the region, we also encourage environmental ventures. HERA Association members will continue providing volunteer resettlement support for former Ukrainian grantees and their families, who move to Europe or North America. This year we again commit to helping former Ukrainian and Artsakh (Armenian) grantees, who are forced to leave, to restart their ventures.  

Spring is also the season for HERA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).  This year, the AGM was held in Moldova and for those who could not attend, online.  In preparation for the AGM and the 2024 Competition, we hosted a networking day for the Moldovan grantees.  A woman entrepreneur, who had received two grants, catered the event, and all participants benefitted from farm fresh, delicious food.  A finance entrepreneur hosted the AGM the following day in her downtown Chisinau office. 

During the networking day the HERA grantees shared experiences in growing their ventures.  A group of young women reported that “the transition from a hobby to a real business activity can be challenging. We are grateful for the sales but a lack of knowledge of the legislation stops us from switching to another level.”  They shared information about obtaining a patent for new inventions and products for MLD 1.2 million ($68,000).  Once registered, one entrepreneur advised, “you are moved by the wave.  Just start taking all the efforts to scale up and one of the most important things is to pay our employees.”

A second group, summarising their discussion, observed: “as women we work faster but not necessarily with less quality. Women had diverse experiences with the pandemic and with the war in Ukraine.  We were rethinking our business models, for example, selling grains in large bags but now in smaller bags and selling to shops, etc.  We spoke less about our failures. We are still young but had lessons learned.”  They also reflected that “my success cannot be compared to the success of the other colleagues.  Success can be a higher level of motivation, new jobs, increased clients’ portfolio, scale up – there are many different indicators.  Maybe we added some more kilos.”  

One woman told us all that neither her husband nor her mother, who laughed at her plan to open a business, thought she could be an entrepreneur.  She said that the HERA grant was the first time anyone affirmed her decision to move forward. Although some found our application questions challenging, they also reported that the process of filling out the application, was useful.  One woman observed, “applying for the grant pushed my development.” Another reported that on her first meeting with the assessment team, she did not receive a grant. However, they encouraged her to move her operation out of her home, which gave her the courage to hire employees and develop a profitable catering business.

The challenges for a young woman entrepreneur can be daunting. As one group pointed out, “What counted for being a woman. We were facing deep expectations, as women, to be nurses, mothers, and it used to be, as cooks; and there was always no more than 24 hours in a day.  If you think of the business as a child, the way you bring up a business is as you bring up a child.  The start-ups, younger women’s companies – one to three months old – may be limited because as we have less time.”

The women entrepreneurs provided advice to HERA for our work ahead. They wanted to see HERA expand our work in Moldova.  One group suggested that HERA organise two grant cycles/year with a second stream to support young women’s innovative start-ups.  As they observed, “Moldova has a young generation of women with new business ideas and models, and young women could benefit from more support early on.” Several were interested in learning about women entrepreneurs in the other three countries.  Along with country-specific Facebook pages, they suggested a HERA-wide page, where information could be shared and exchanged across borders.  As one group explained, “We are not just missing the money but also the ideas.”   

One woman concluded, “Thank you for listening.  99% of our time is involved in business and only one percent for our husbands.  You are moving us from the production line, and we can hear new ideas.   I never had time to think and reflect and I felt that I am regressing in my development.  I wanted to accept events that I was ignoring, and I understand that creative thinking is fuelled by that.” 

During the AGM the following day, HERA Board members took on several of these valuable insights.  Rather than adding a new country, we decided to deepen and strengthen our work in the four countries. We plan to support the country-level Facebook pages and create a HERA-wide one across the four countries. Our assessment teams will endeavour to bring grantees at regional levels together for networking and sharing ideas.  Being on the frontlines of conflict, we will continue supporting former grantees, who are forced to relocate, to restart their businesses. 

HERA has a distinct advantage for partnering with other NGOs and Government, which focus on training. There are few grant opportunities, and these may be expanded to encourage young women’s innovative ventures.  Two new members were elected to our Board: a Georgian entrepreneur and trainer, who has been involved with HERA’s grants program since its inception in 2010; and a Moldovan due diligence officer, who conducted our retrospective study of the Moldovan grantees and has participated on several assessments.  Finally, we looked forward to sending assessment teams again to the four countries this summer and early Autumn.

 

2024 HERA International Grants Competition
2024 HERA International Grants Competition
Some HERA Board Members
Some HERA Board Members
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Project Leader:
Lynellyn Long
Sancerre , France
$263,338 raised of $500,000 goal
 
1,716 donations
$236,662 to go
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