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2013 World of Difference 100 Award Recipients | Page 4
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 Violeta Jovanovic      Serbia       Entrepreneurship

As Executive Director of Serbia’s National Alliance for Local Economic Development, Violeta Jovanovic is empowering women to turn their business ideas into successful enterprises that help drive Serbia’s fragile economy forward. Ms. Jovanovic also serves as Chair of the Serbian Ethno Network, which works to preserve Serbia’s heritage through the employment of rural women in traditional handicraft activities. Since its inception in 2007, the network has grown to employ 400 women in rural Serbia. She is also leading a coalition of women leaders throughout Serbia who are working to build Serbian government support for women’s entrepreneurship. By engaging rural Serbian women and youth with skills but no markets for their goods, she is using her business and government connections to secure financing and other support for the network. She is a driving force for local economic development, helping transform Serbia into a welcoming place for foreign and domestic business. She believes in Serbia’s future, in equalizing the regional economic disparities and she is working hard to devise new solutions to long-existing problems, solutions that are helping to empower vulnerable women throughout all of Serbia.

Lucy Kanu       Nigeria        Non-Profit/NGO

Lucy Kanu is an executive with the Ashoka Fellowship, a global association of the world‘s leading social entrepreneurs, where she established the "Idea Builders Initiative” in Lagos, Nigeria in 2004. With her long-term goal of making significant contribution to the global women’s empowerment movement, Ms. Kanu is currently leading and managing a 20 million Naira NGO Project fund, which aims to strengthen women’s leadership and participation in socioeconomic activities. She was recently invited to speak at the ICVA Innovate Conference in Geneva, Switzerland to share knowledge and resources to improve humanitarian action. Lucy’s contributions to the Social Sector earned her an international recognition at the 2012 Fairness Award in Washington DC, USA. In 2009, she attended the coveted Commonwealth Fellowship and participated in a 3-month placement with the Prince’s Trust in London during which she explored various development initiatives, programmes, and projects across the United Kingdom. After her participation in the prestigious Fortune/US State Department Mentoring Program in 2008, as a way of paying it forward, Lucy started the Women Mentoring Women and the Mentoring Walk to empower women and girls to lead lives of choice. Through Mentoring, Training, Networking and Business Matching, the programs have impacted more than 13,000 women in the various states of Nigeria.

Barbara Kasoff     United States of America      Non-Profit/NGO

Barbara Kasoff is the President, CEO, and Cofounder of Women Impacting Public Policy Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy advocacy organization with over a million members dedicated to educating and advocating with regard to economic issues for women in business. Ms. Kasoff speaks nationally and internationally on issues concerning leadership, economic development and advocacy for business women. She recently completed a term as an appointee to the National Women’s Business Council, an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress and the US Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. She also serves on Key Bank’s Key4Women National Advisory Board and AT&T’s Women Entrepreneurs’ Forum. In 2011, Barbara served as a delegate for the United States at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC). Ms. Kasoff currently serves as co-chair of the National Global Trade and Technology Board of Directors, whose mission is to help balance trade deficits by making US products and services more accessible to global markets and previously served as President of The National Association of Business Owners in Detroit, Vice President of Public Policy for the national NAWBO organization, Secretary for National Women Business Owners Corporation, the Board of Directors for SCORE and on various community Boards.


Hilda Kennedy     United States of America     Entrepreneurship

Hilda Kennedy is founder and president of AmPac Tri State Certified Development Company (CDC) in Grand Terrace, California, a certified lender for the SBA’s 504 loan program and the first faith-based CDC in the country. Founded in 2007, the CDC has approved more than $160 Million in SBA loans. Ms. Kennedy was appointed to the White House and SBA Council on Underserved Communities, and is one of 15 representatives chosen across the country. She is Past-President of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)- Inland Empire Chapter, President of the Inland Empire Women's Education Foundation, and Public Policy Chair for NAWBO-California. Hilda has been the recipient of numerous community awards including the 2011 Women in Business Champion Award by the U.S. Small Business Administration and 2012 Woman of the Year Award from Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod. Ms. Kennedy also serves her community as a Board member of the Mt. Zion Community Development Corporation. Hilda Kennedy is a champion for women business owners and a dedicated mentor in her community.


Abhay Khandagle      India       Champion, Women’s Economic Empowerment

Professor Dr. Abhay John Khandagle, M.Sc., Ph.D. in Zoology has used his position, knowledge and experience as a champion for women’s empowerment for the past 20 years. He comes from a very small village and has seen firsthand the unprivileged state of women. He is intellectually vibrant and has been teaching and designing courses for girl students who come from the rural and hilly areas to make them financially independent. As a member of Board of Studies he has been instrumental in framing a curriculum that increases women s employability. As a counselor of he has guided rural women on health issues by organizing health camps where every year at least 400 ladies make use of the facility. He has also organised hemoglobin checkup camps in the college where every year 700 girls benefit, providing free iron tablets to those with low hemoglobin. The ladies and girls whose HB is less than 9% are provided free iron tablets. After ensuring their physical well being, he provides guidance on self employment. As a result of his efforts, many women and girl students have started their own small businesses. He is an inspiring speaker at women’s seminars where he helps to create the confidence women need to start their small business. His work has earned him several awards including the 2013 Best Teacher Award by the University of Pune and other State level awards.


Yasmine Khater       Singapore      Entrepreneurship

Yasmine Khater believes if you enable one woman, you enable a whole community. Ms. Khater has developed leadership programs in the MENA region, which empower hundreds of young women in the world’s largest Youth Organization, AIESEC, and has helped commercialize hand-made products made by women to increase their monthly income and raise money for Children with Cancer. She launched a social enterprise called Gone Cyclin’, where she cycled 420 km in one of the world’s toughest terrains, raising $50,000 to enable 500 women in Southeast Asia’s poorest region to launch their own businesses. She also launched the world’s largest alternative finance program called Social Impact Finance exploring alternative forms of funding to help hundreds of micro-businesses get capitalized. She is the founder of Transpiral, which provides thousands of ambitious women with practical strategies to grow their dream businesses and which donates 10% of profits and training to help women-run businesses in developing countries to grow their own enterprises. She was one of the youngest awardees of the Top 40 AIESEC alumni for her continuous impact on society. She is a Results Certified Coach and has a double degree in Psychology and Integrated Marketing Communications. She has also received the IE-AIESEC Scholarship to study a Masters in International Management.


Michelle Kreger    United States of America    Public Service/Government

Michelle Kreger is the Senior Director of the Strategic Initiatives team at Kiva. At a time when Kiva was exclusively focusing on partnering with traditional microfinance institutions, Michelle saw strong potential for Kiva to get involved with other types of social enterprises, many of which offer significant economic opportunities to women. Michelle began Kiva’s Strategic Initiatives team with the intention of exploring and implementing loans to these types of socially minded organizations in order to generate a positive and sustainable economic impact, especially for women. Through Kiva, individuals from around the world are able to contribute $25 towards a loan to people who don’t have access to financing through the traditional banking system but who would be able to build a better life through a loan and three quarters of Kiva loans are made to women. Through the work of Michelle and the Strategic Initiatives team, Kiva has been able to provide funding to borrowers of 44 social enterprises in 19 countries. Kiva partners with impactful enterprises such as Solar Sister in Uganda, which provides funding to women in rural areas so they can purchase solar lighting and technology products to sell to off-the-grid households. Kiva also partners with Strathmore University in Kenya to provide full tuition loans to talented students who would not be able to attend university without financing. Half of the loans through Kiva to Strathmore have gone to female students.


Neelie Kroes       Netherlands     Public Service/Government

Neelie Kroes is vice president and commissioner with the European Commission. Her long and successful business career has made her a role model for women in business and she has been recognized by Forbes as one of the "World’s '100 most powerful women”. In her current role as commissioner of DG Connect, she is actively promoting and empowering young women to seek a career in information technology, a vital sector of the future economy in which women are vastly underrepresented. She has been outspoken in favour of the European Commission’s push for gender equality at the senior corporate level, believing that unless quotas are put in place to promote gender equality, it could take hundreds of years to reach gender parity on boards. She has been a strong proponent of the setting a very clear political objective that at least 40% of non-executive directors in publicly listed companies in the EU should be women by 2020, and particularly, in ensuring that the EU approach leaves enough flexibility for countries within the EU to continue with different national models where they can be shown to be effective. The bottom line for Ms. Kroes is that greater gender equality in the boardrooms of Europe’s publicly listed companies - and the EU Institutions themselves - is essential to ensure that Europe's most talented businesswomen have a chance to use their abilities and experience to their full extent.


Namita Krul-Taneja    The Netherlands   Entrepreneurship

Namita Krul-Taneja started her career as a nurse and moved on to banking, managing corporate loan accounts. Now with her MBA, Ms. Krul-Taneja he has set up her own business, New Yardsticks, which assesses and improves existing social-development programs that help marginalized women and develops new programs. She is also involved in WORK+SHELTER, an organization that provides fair-trade work for destitute women, some of whom also need a safe space to live. The women get a safe environment, work, a steady income, regular health check-ups, literacy classes and, importantly, motivation and self-confidence. They are taught how to plan and budget their finances and to save one-third of their earnings each month. Having a steady income motivates these women to keep sending their children to school and away from child labor. She envisions empowering these women sufficiently within a two-year period after which they will be able to take care of themselves independently and, most importantly, provide their children with a brighter future than they could otherwise. She believes firmly that small changes can have a great impact and aims to help at least five thousand marginalized women and their children help themselves to bright futures within the next five years.


Kwaku Kyei     Ghana      Champion, Women’s Economic Empowerment

Concerned with challenges of homelessness and environmental havoc created by indiscriminate littering of plastic waste in Ghana, Kwaku Kyei established the Recnowa Initiative to contribute to the fight against plastic waste in Ghana. Recnowa does this by recycling plastic waste into high fashion goods in an operation that provides homeless girls plagued by instability with opportunities to gain employment and develop the skills required for a lifetime of self-sufficiency. Unemployed women artisans are enrolled in Recnowa’s three year paid entrepreneurship academy that develops their skills and allocates a portion of their salaries to an investment pool, which generates savings for them and can be used to set up their own small scale businesses. Fifty-two young women have already been provided with employment opportunities, each representing an average household of 5 people, meaning direct benefit reaching about 260. By encouraging homeless girls to collect discarded plastic, teaching them how to recycle, and paying them a collection fee for each batch that they collect, Recnowa is not only helping to clean up the environment but also providing employment to people who otherwise would be out of a job or below the poverty threshold.


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The International Alliance for Women is organized as a 501(c)3 foundation in the USA. We are a global community of economically empowered women across all continents that welcome you to our members’ cities and countries, connecting you with their networks of business and community professionals.

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The International Alliance for Women connects leading women’s organizations worldwide to leverage their reach and resources, creating a global community of economically empowered women.

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