5 Social Enterprises Run By and For Women

By: Kathara Green | March 4, 2015

Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) helps girls and women have even more productive lives than before.

The past year has seen great progress for women and girls around the globe. From Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize to Emma Watson’s viral #heforshe movement, women took to the main stage and had their voices heard. On March 8, the world will turn its attention to women and girls for International Women’s Day, celebrating the many success stories and recognizing what still needs to be done.  

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting 5 innovative social enterprises run by and for women. Each are applying unexpected tools—from banana fibers to sleeping bags, and from coding to angel investing—to empower women and girls, and as a result, are transforming lives around the world.

1. Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE)

Does banana fiber have anything to do with keeping girls in school and women at work? To SHE and its customers, the answer is yes. By manufacturing and selling inexpensive banana fiber menstrual pads, SHE is tackling girls and women's lack of access to affordable maxi-pads in Rwanda. Not only is SHE making the product, they are also partnering with entrepreneurs to create jobs. Register for founder Elizabeth Scharpf’s upcoming Issues in Depth webinar to learn more about SHE.

Follow SHE on Twitter

2. Catapult

Channeling much needed resources and attention toward projects serving women and girls, Catapult is a partner-based crowdfunding platform for a more equal world. People around the world can find projects they care about—from maternal health to economic security, and from gender discrimination to advocacy—and contribute funds. As of December 2014, all 432 Catapult projects were funded (wow, right?), but check back soon to support projects this year. 

Follow Catapult on Twitter 

3. The Empowerment Plan 

The Empowerment Plan focuses on two things: jobs and coats. Based in Detroit, this social enterprise employs and trains homeless women to construct a garment that serves as both a coat and a sleeping bag. Homeless individuals within the community receive these coats at no cost. The Empowerment Plan is also shaking up the nonprofit model by running and functioning like a traditional garment business, and they help their employees grow professionally through teaching and utilizing a market-valued trade skill. Watch this video to learn more about founder Veronika Scott and The Empowerment Plan.

Follow The Empowerment Plan on Twitter 

4. Black Girls Code 

Tackling the gender tech gap, Black Girls Code is empowering young women of color between the ages of 7 to 17 to embrace the booming tech marketplace as the next generation of coders. Through after school programs, hackathons, a summer camp, and more, Black Girls Code introduces programming and technology across the United States to young girls, who hold the key to the next disruptive tech innovations and (bonus points!) their own futures.

Follow Black Girls Code on Twitter

5. Pipeline Fellowship 

Angel investing is an overwhelmingly male dominated field: in 2013, only 19% of U.S. angel investors were women and only 4% were minorities. Pipeline Fellowship is out to change that. Through their angel investing bootcamps and pitch summits, they work to increase diversity in the U.S. angel investing community and drive capital toward women social entrepreneurs. Interested in pitching your own idea? Register by March 9 for pitch summits this spring.

Follow Pipeline Fellowship on Twitter

Have your own idea for a social enterprise?

Join our upcoming Issues in Depth webinar, 5 Steps to Grow Your Social Enterprise When You Start with Zilch.


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