Every year on March 8th, individuals and organizations around the world observe International Women’s Day (IWD). It’s an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality.
In this post, we’re highlighting 28 inspiring social enterprises from our S-GRID network working to #BreakTheBias in our communities, workplaces, schools, and public spaces – on International Women’s Day, and every day.
Learn how they’re working to #BreakTheBias below!
…by creating paths to employment through skills training
Durian is a Nigerian social enterprise empowering rural communities to be self-sufficient through transforming their local waste and resources into a means of livelihood. To do this, Durian provides women in rural communities with vocational training, adult literacy education, and community agriculture projects which empower them to create change from within and reclaim their unique identity and dignity.
Aatm Nirbhar is an all women-driven (literally!) social venture enabling micro-mobility for women through two-wheeler training and recruitment in field delivery jobs. Currently operating as a professional Scooty Driving Training School for women across Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, Atam Nirbhar is on a mission to make every Indian woman self-reliant through social empowerment and economic inclusion in sectors like logistics, e-commerce, cab services, driving services, sales, and more.
Geek Girl Tech protects mission-driven & socially conscious businesses who align with its core values of diversity, fairness, and putting people before profits. The Geek Girl Tech team is diverse, skilled, and dedicated, and partners with other women and minority-owned businesses to provide additional services to its clients.
Femote is a Nigerian social impact startup that hires and trains African women from under-resourced communities to provide business support and outsourcing services such as data annotation for AI, data processing, and affordable virtual and administrative support services for growing businesses. In the process, Femote is helping women and small and growing businesses to create a path to financial security and independence.
…by standing up to sexual harassment
Our Voices Against Harassment (OVAH) is a social enterprise on a mission to tackle the prominent issue of sexual abuse and sexual harassment that many girls and young women face in Tanzania. One of the way it accomplishes this is through its animated series, Mwajuma Simama, which serves as a platform to educate Tanzanian society and lead conversations about sexual abuse and sexual harassment. In addition, OVAH provides a web-based system where girls and young women who face sexual harassment from teachers, school staff, and even relatives and neighbors, can report and speak out about these incidents.
Flone Initiative is a women-led nonprofit in Kenya working to end violence against women and girls in public spaces by influencing behavioral change at the community level. It promotes tolerance and acceptance by building grassroots capacity through 3 pillars of focus: training current transportation workers to prevent this kind of harassment, attracting more women to the transportation industry, and its crowdmapping platform which allows victims to report and seek support.
…by reclaiming their stories to challenge the existing narrative
Global Girlhood is a women-led organization that inspires storytelling, fosters intercultural dialogue, and represents the heights women and gender-expansive people soar. Social media has recently exacerbated many cultural, social, and geographical biases. Global Girlhood counters this by amplifying the stories of everyday women and gender-expansive people across the globe—increasing representation and challenging biased narratives.
Free W is a Malaysian social enterprise that encourages women to go out of their comfort zones to explore their freewill, discover their inner powers, and build sisterhood bonds across borders through motorcycling experiences. Motorcycles are used as a vehicle to challenge gender stereotypes, and access both physical and emotional freedom, while contributing to the economic independence of fellow women, especially in tourism and motorcycling industries.
…by mobilizing capital and capacity-building support to women-identifying entrepreneurs
Grameen America is a microfinance institution dedicated to helping entrepreneurial women who live in poverty build businesses that enable financial independence and mobility. Grameen America provides microloans (starting at no more than $2,000), financial training, and support to its members, who are also then able to open free savings accounts with commercial banks and make weekly deposits. Grameen America also reports microloan repayments to Experian, enabling its members to build their financial identity and credit ratings.
EnrichHER is a social enterprise on a mission to make financial resources accessible to underserved business owners everywhere. The fastest-growing demo of founders, Black women, historically lack support in business financing and are often targeted by predatory lenders. EnrichHER is on a mission to change that – and believes that putting capital in the hands of diverse founders strengthens economies and closes wealth gaps. For society to change, access to funding must change.
Black Girl Ventures is a social enterprise on a mission to provide Black/Brown woman-identifying founders with access to community, capital, and capacity building in order to meet business milestones that lead to economic advancement through entrepreneurship. Black Girl Ventures funds and scales tech-enabled, revenue-generating businesses (under $1M) and ignites civic engagement and hyperlocal infrastructure at the intersection of business support services, supplier diversity, social and financial capital.
Kaaba Microfinance Institution (K-MFI) is a financial service provider that strengthens the economic base of low-income groups in Somaliland – specifically women and youth. The purpose is to enable the targeted groups to become self-reliant and serve as agents of change. K-MFI has served over 14,000 clients from since it was founded in 1999, making a meaningful dent in the country’s high unemployment rate by creating self-employment opportunities.
Walker’s Legacy Foundation exists to enhance the livelihood and economic quality and equality of low-income women by providing programming focused on improving financial literacy & financial empowerment. Its programs equip women-led, micro-enterprises through entrepreneurship training and business development programming. Together with its global platform for professional and entrepreneurial multicultural women, Walker’s Legacy strives to level the playing field by ensuring that, when it comes to business, women are not alone.
Pro Mujer is a mission-driven social enterprise advancing gender equality in Latin America. Its innovative programs in financial inclusion, impact investing, entrepreneurship, and health are developed first and foremost with a women-centered, impact-driven approach. With more than $4.1 billion invested to date, Pro Mujer is driving women’s economic empowerment, fueling economies, and transforming Latin America.
Village Capital invests in many groups of entrepreneurs, including women. Armed with approaches like peer-selected investment, tools like Abaca that improve transparency, embracing alternative pathways for growth, and equipping accelerators, Village Capital is delivering meaningful progress on closing the gender financing gap.
Since 2015, Agora has implemented the Variable Payment Obligation (VPO) Program, which seeks to increase access to financing and enterprise growth services for women-owned small and growing businesses (SGBs).. Since 2018, Agora has been working with its partners to expand the program, originally piloted in Nicaragua, to other countries, including Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia and Dominican Republic.
…by filling gaps in public services at the community level
Animedh Charitable Trust (ACT) is an India-based nonprofit that provides social services to vulnerable women and children at the individual, community, and national levels. Its programs address a critical lack of public services in India, particularly for the millions of women experiencing poverty. ACT takes a holistic approach, with programs focusing on life skills development, vocational training, and on basic and higher education.
Whole World Women Association is a multicultural non-profit organization based in Cape Town, South Africa. It was founded by a remarkable group of refugee women, supported by South African women, who had experienced first hand the need for more comprehensive refugee services. Its programs include support for women who have been victims of abuse, skills development, social events, women’s health, and advocacy for women’s rights.
Safeplan Uganda was founded in 2012 with the aim of creating sustainable jobs for young people, promoting life saving technology including energy products while reaching the most vulnerable women and youths with social economical projects for sustainable rural development. Working with the community to identify the most pressing needs, Safeplan Uganda’s programs focus on the pillars of health, the environment, gender equality, education, and information technology. Its ultimate aim is to create a safe and socio-economically secure society where all people – including vulnerable citizens – live and deliver their full potential.
…by creating paths to financial independence through craftsmanship
Ekatra is a female-led social enterprise that produces hand-crafted stationery. With women empowerment at the heart of its work, Ekatra engages women from marginalized communities to co-create the stationery, providing a new path to financial independence through the new trade of upcycling, recycling, and making.
Dao Ethical Gifts is a social enterprise that offers customizable and unique products, handmade by marginalized women with locally sourced materials, as an alternative to your traditional corporate gifts. Each woman receives training in work readiness skills like sewing, handicrafts, and small business plans, along with innovative life coaching in order to achieve their long-term goals including financial literacy.
Fugeelah is a women-led conscious jewelry brand that educates, employs and empowers refugee children and youth. Fugeelah is deeply devoted to quality, and dedicates itself to thoughtful sourcing, fair wages for the female artisans it co-creates collections with, and give-back initiatives that truly have an impact.
Manushi is a social enterprise dedicated to preserving traditional Nepali arts and crafts while improving the economic conditions of disadvantaged and marginalized producers – primarily women – through sustainable development. Manushi has grown into a Fair Trade leader through the diversification of its activities, which now include management and skill training, entrepreneurship development, and microfinancing support for its artisans to develop sustainable livelihoods.
Tamul is a social enterprise that produces and markets biodegradable disposable dinnerware through community-owned micro-enterprises spread across North East India. The tableware provides quality, green alternatives to urban and global customers while helping to generate sustainable livelihoods amongst rural women and youth, locally. Tamul is on a mission to replace 2000 MT of toxic disposable plates annually by 2025, and in the process generate employment for 20000 rural women and youth.
Fon Fabrics is an ethical fashion brand offering quality clothing made with handwoven fabrics by Shan artisans from Myanmar. The Fon Fabrics team travels to remote areas in Myanmar to co-create high vibrational fashion with Shan women artisans, giving consumers access to authentic pieces of wearable art while providing sustainable livelihood for the artisans who create them.
I was a Sari is a social enterprise that takes waste-bound saris and upcycles them into beautiful clothes and accessories. Along the way, it employs women who did not have the opportunity – or were denied – an education and path to financial independence and security. We featured Stefano Funari, founder of i was a sari, on a webinar earlier this year. Watch the recording to learn more about how he managed to build an effective partnership with one of the world’s most iconic brands: Gucci.
Trama Textiles is a cooperative of female Mayan backstrap loom weavers across Guatemala. Trama Textiles works directly with 100 women from 17 weaving communities across 5 regions in the Western Highlands: Sololá, Huehuetenango, Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango and Quiché. Its mission is to create work at fair wages for the women of Guatemala, to support their families and communities, and to preserve and develop their cultural traditions by maintaining our textile arts and their histories.
World For Good is a social enterprise with a dual mission: to make an economic difference for women living in poverty where opportunity is scarce and exploitation is common, and to provide retail consumers a quick & easy way to support human rights initiatives with a single tote bag. World For Good partners with NGOs around the world that employ women from disadvantaged communities and pay them fair wages to create beautiful and unique cloth bags from fabric scraps. Profits from the bags are reinvested into the business to employ more women and keep more material out of landfills.
We’re grateful to work with this inspiring group of social enterprises making the world a more equitable place. Does your organization have an innovative social or environmental solution that you are trying to scale? Apply to SGRID for help building connections to corporations looking to find partners for their supply chains.