Media Release | Innovative young change-makers provide real-world solutions for women and girls in need

Media Release | Innovative young change-makers provide real-world solutions for women and girls in need

Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard announce the finalists for this year’s Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World campaign. Celebrating its fourth year, the competition attracted 503 submissions in 2014, from 70 countries around the world.

Applicants aged 18-35 were asked to submit a sustainable idea to improve the lives of women and girls in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, for the chance to win a US$25,000 grant to help implement their project in the field.

The 10 finalists presented a range of innovative ideas, which include helping single mothers run a pumpkin-farming enterprise in Uganda, a menstrual hygiene initiative in rural India, an Australian project providing financial support to female refugees, a Cambodian-Singaporean venture which helps sex workers transition out of the sex industry and run a small business, and a food-processing plant which funds a homeless refuge in Zimbabwe.

“2014’s entry guidelines were significantly more stringent than in previous years but that didn’t deter potential applicants. This year garnered the highest calibre of submissions we’ve ever received. We couldn’t be prouder of the incredible work being done by youth around the world to empower women and girls,” says Trina Liang-Lin, President, Singapore Committee for UN Women.

Georgette Tan, Group Head, Communications, Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard, adds, “Each year we’ve seen the quality of entries for Project Inspire improve from strength to strength. The program continues to gain awareness, participation and impact. What’s even better is that Project Inspire’s success has spread quickly, inspiring more organisations to step up to support young people and their drive to change the world.”

Along with the announcement of the 2014 finalists, Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard also announce a brand new prize of US$10,000 to be awarded to the runner-up, courtesy of new partner Hilton Worldwide. As the competition’s total prize pool increases to US$35,000, this year’s finalists have an even better chance of seeing their ideas realised.

“It’s a privilege to collaborate with like-minded partners such as Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard to invest in young change-makers, who in turn enable sustainable impact and improvement to our communities,” says Brendan Toomey, Vice President, Human Resources, Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide. “Project Inspire truly brings to life our Travel with Purpose strategy; to create shared value for our business and communities around the globe. It also reinforces two key announcements we made earlier this year – one, our pledge to impact at least one-million young people by 2019, and two, our commitment to UN Women and UN Global Compact’s Women’s Empowerment Principles.”

Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World is a joint initiative between Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard, supported by global consulting firm Bain & Company and academic partner INSEAD. Launched in 2011, the multi-award-winning initiative presents 18-35-year-olds worldwide with the opportunity to win a US$25,000 grant to assist an existing social enterprise or non-profit which supports women and girls in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East or Africa.

Each finalist receives an all-expenses-paid trip to Singapore, where they participate in a week-long social business boot camp, which includes workshops run by Bain & Company and INSEAD. The week culminates in the Project Inspire grand final on Saturday, 30th August, 2014 at INSEAD’s Asia Campus, where a winner will be chosen by an esteemed panel of judges.

Members of the public are invited to participate by voting for their favourite finalist on the Project Inspire Facebook page. The finalist with the highest number of votes will win the People’s Choice Award. Voting opens on Wednesday, 6th August, 2014, and closes on Friday, 29th August, 2014. A limited number of free tickets for the grand final in Singapore are available now to members of the public on Eventbrite. The grand final will also be live streamed online.

Singapore Committee for UN Women & MasterCard 
Project Inspire 2014 finalists

Presenter: Esther Banda
Organisation: Young Zimbabweans Business Platform
Project name: Project Can-Do
Project location: Bomba and Harare, Zimbabwe
Project aim: Set up a food processing plant in Bomba, Zimbabwe, which sources produce from local female entrepreneurs. The proceeds from the sales of canned produce will fund a refuge and training facility for homeless women in Harare.

Presenter: Sara Gingold
Organisation: Riverkids
Project name: From Ait Chai (Trash) Collector to Fashion Designer
Project location: Cambodia and Singapore
Project aim: Provide counselling, healthcare and vocational training for Cambodian sex workers, so they can transition out of the sex industry, and run their own small business.

Presenter: Mandy Richards
Organisation: Global Sisters
Project name: Global Sisters – Financial Independence for Female Entrepreneurs
Project location: Australia
Project aim: Assist refugee/migrant women in Australia with business loans, mentoring, financial and business support, marketing, and access to an online sales platform.

Presenter: Shrutikantha Kandali
Organisation: Going to School
Project name: [email protected] for Girls
Project location: Bihar, India
Project aim: Reduce the student dropout rate at rural high schools in India by providing skills training to 8,000 teenage girls via an entrepreneur educational program.

Presenter: Sombodhi Ghosh
Organisation: Aakar Innovations
Project name: Aakar Social Ventures
Project location: India
Project aim: Provide training to equip women with the skills to educate their peers on menstrual hygiene, and earn an income selling affordable sanitary napkins, in rural India.

Presenter: Pham Thi Ngoc Mai
Organisation: REACH
Project name: Supporting disadvantaged young women through vocational training and job placement program
Project location: Vietnam
Project aim: Transform the lives of disadvantaged women in Vietnam via a range of skills training options (from web design to hairdressing), plus job placement and follow-up support.

Presenter: Kyalema Joyce
Organisation: Rural Women and Youth Development Organisation
Project name: Women’s Empowerment in Pumpkin Value Addition
Project location: Uganda
Project aim: Empower single mothers in rural Uganda through training in pumpkin farming, business literacy and the sale of pumpkin products such as bread, seeds, and spice tea.

Presenter: Alana Hitchcock Weber
Organisation: Trade Monkey
Project name: Social Impact at Trade Monkey
Project location: Phrao District, Thailand
Project aim: Create stable jobs for female artisans in rural Northern Thailand by helping them scale their local businesses, and connect with a global marketplace.

Presenter: Anietie Etuk
Organisation: Corehead Business Solutions Ltd
Project name: CO-OP46
Project location: Nigeria
Project aim: Teach women in Nigeria business expansion methods via weekly lectures which are delivered to their phones via SMS, and establish a co-op of existing businesses.

Presenter: Sheena Rose Jamora
Organisation: Sinag
Project name: The Sinag Store Project
Project location: Caloocan, Philippines
Project aim: Financially disadvantaged female students in the Philippines will gain marketable design skills, and use them to launch a social enterprise.


Read more about our 2014 finalists, and see their video entries here.



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