Business Name: Women LEAD, a leadership development organization for young women in Nepal
Type of Business: Non profit
Business Location: Kathmandu, Nepal
Reason for starting
In 2010, I co-founded Women LEAD at the age of 20 with a close friend and fellow university student. Women LEAD is the first and only leadership development organization for young women, led by young women, in Nepal. We started Women LEAD because we both strongly believe that the lack of female leaders around the world is one of the biggest inequalities of the 21st century. Only 20% of political leaders around the world are women. In Nepal, women’s leadership across all sectors remains incredibly low. Young women’s opinions and voices are rarely valued in traditional and male-dominated countries like Nepal. There is hope though: an increase in allocated leadership positions has presented new opportunities for women. However, schools are currently not training young women to access and leverage these new positions.
How do you define success?
We think we have been successful when girls in our program identify as leaders. Most of our participants had never written a resume or practiced public speaking before joining our organization. It is a daily challenge to establish a girls’ leadership organization in a country where it’s a struggle to persuade families to invest in their daughters’ basic education. We believe that investing in young, local women leaders and local solutions changes the world. Every time a girl we work with owns her power and becomes a leader, we are one step closer to gender equality in Nepal.
We’ve directly empowered more than 230 youth to be leaders through our organization and impacted hundreds more through our activism campaigns in their schools. Each year, we invest in 30 girls through a yearlong leadership training that equips them with critical professional skills and knowledge. Participants are given opportunities to practice leadership through our social entrepreneurship, advocacy and internship programs. They are leading workshops for 150 students in their own schools, mentoring others, and creating social ventures to address problems in their community.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Our biggest challenge is making our organization sustainable. As Executive Director in the US, I lead our fundraising efforts, raising $42 000 for the organization since our launch. I have built a dynamic community of supporters, Board members, and donors. In the first trimester of our fiscal year, I have raised 40% of our operating budget and diversified our fundraising portfolio. Our number of individual donors has doubled in the past year, and we have increased our financial support from our 4 Board members. We are looking to increase our number of major donors, board members and foundation partners next year.
Who is your most important role model?
My most important role model is my dad. He started with nothing, but worked very hard to start his own company, which is now very successful. He inspires me to work hard on my passion and not give up. He has given me so many opportunities to succeed.