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2013 World of Difference 100 Award Recipients | Page 9
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Theopista Ntale Sekitto    Uganda      Corporate

A Banker and Social Entrepreneur, Theopista Ntale Sekitto is currently working with DFCU Bank as the Head of Wholesale Banking, a position that has enabled her to directly be involved in the Women in Businesses Program. This program enables women entrepreneurs from both the formal and informal sector to acquire key skills in financial management, business planning, production, customer care and marketing. Ms. Sekitto’s role as the champion, task manager, mentor, confidant and friend to so many women has transformed the women to confidently interact with the bank on a regular basis. As the African regional head for Global Banking Alliance for Women, in her role sitting on the Global Banking Alliance Board representing the African continent. She has pushed "women’s access to finance agenda” in national and global forums. Ms. Sekitto also heads the Uganda Chapter of New Faces, New Voices, an initiative started by Graca Machel, wife of Nelson Mandela. Through this program she focuses on grooming and mentoring young women to rise to leadership positions especially in the male-dominated financial and corporate world. Despite her busy schedule, she serves on a number of national and international boards including: FAWE –Uganda (Federation of African Women Educationists)
Dana Shuqom     Jordan      Non-Profit/NGO

Dana S. Shuqom is a Jordanian national and the first country national to head one of the regional offices of AMIDEAST. Dana was a recipient of the Fulbright and Chevening scholarships. When she was awarded the Fulbright, her younger daughter was only 1 year old and still, Dana chose to seize the opportunity and traveled to the United States with her child to pursue her graduate degree in international studies. Among the projects to support women’s well-being that she supervises as head of AMIDEAST in Jordan is the "Arab Women Entrepreneurship Program”, which aims to introduce local women to basic business skills and mentorship required to open or expand a business. Dana is very proud of a mentorship and training project she launched some years ago which provided female orphans with English Language and soft skills to increase their opportunities in securing jobs upon graduation and leaving the orphanages. She is a role model and great source of inspiration to Jordanian females. It is in no small part because of her leadership role and championing of women’s economic empowerment that AMIDEAST Jordan is considered a great employer of choice for women.

Colleen Sidford      Canada     Corporate

Colleen Sidford is a woman who has used her own success and position to bolster the career success of other women. When she retired in 2013, Colleen served as Vice President and Treasurer of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), responsible for generating electrical power for Canada's most populous province. She worked with OPG management to remove gender biases and encourage women in their careers. In the largely male-dominated power industry, Colleen felt women needed support to advance and connect with one another so she founded the "emPOWERed Women Program” which is now reaching women working across the province. Its objective is to provide formalized mentoring opportunities for women to help each other grow their professional capabilities and leadership skills. The program has been highly successful, an achievement that the women's research and advocacy organization, Catalyst, recognized by naming Colleen a 2010 Business Leader Champion at the Catalyst Canada inaugural honours. Colleen has always viewed career advancement of women not as an HR initiative but as a business imperative that needs to be embraced and woven into the culture of an organization to truly integrate the advancement of women in business success. In 2013, Colleen was appointed President of Women in Nuclear, representing Canada in the WIN Global organization and acting as an ambassador for the nuclear industry. 

Kamela Sidiqi      Afghanistan        Entrepreneurship

Kamela Sidiqi is one of only a very small number of Afghan women entrepreneurs who were able to brave the brutal Taliban regime to become a role model for women in business in Afghanistan. She received a teaching degree but was subsequently banned from school and confined to her home when the Taliban came to power. Her father and brother were forced to flee the city and Kamela became the sole breadwinner for her mother and five siblings. She picked up a needle and thread and started a tailoring business of her own, which thrived and grew to employ 100 women. She went on to create, and now runs, Kaweyan Business Development Services (KBDS), teaching entrepreneurship throughout the country. She has been directly involved in managing projects of a number of large international donor agencies, such as USAID, UNIFEM, UNDP and Hand & Hand. Her expertise lies in gender training, business awareness and business plan writing, organizational development and entrepreneurship. She focuses on process re-engineering and organizational development tools that support proactive approaches in meeting the dynamic challenges ahead. Her story was documented in the book, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by American journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.

Linda Smith      United States of America      Education

In August 2010 Linda L. Smith was invited to become a member of Congressmen Joe Baca’s Women’s Advisory Committee for the purpose of working with Congressman Baca and his staff to provide recommendations and advise on matters that will improve the quality of life for women throughout the 43rd Congressional District and nationwide. Her appointment follows a highly successful career as a nurse and entrepreneur. As a Registered Nurse, Ms. Smith combined her love of nursing, high standards of health care professionalism and a deep spiritual faith by founding the first and only African-American owned, fully-accredited, vocational career college in California licensed to teach Vocational Nursing and other allied health care programs. Starting in September 1992 with two students in its first class, today Four-D College has more than 7,000 graduates, almost all women, who have begun careers in the medical field. In addition to the Colton Campus, she opened the first hands-on vocational health care college in the City of Victorville. She continues to successfully operate two campuses for Four-D College, which has recognized as an Outstanding Business by numerous agencies.

Narine-Dat Sookram    Canada      Champion, Women’s Economic Empowerment

Originally from Guyana, Narine Dat Sookram is dedicated to coaching women in business to give them the skills they need to be economically independent. Mr. Sookram spends his own time and money, coaching women entrepreneurs on how to balance financial statements so that they can manage their financial bookkeeping themselves, thereby saving on start up and giving them the confidence that they have the extra knowledge and skill run their own business, or even apply the skills to other companies if they choose to work for other businesses. Many of the women he has guided are now successful business women in their own right and now are living independently. They in turn are sharing their economic empowerment and motivation to help others as well. A recent recipient of the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant’s Awards, he donated his prize money to the Focus for Ethnic Women (FEW) because he believes that Focus for Ethnic Women isan organization where women can come together and feel a sense of belonging, where each one can utilize the resources available to maximize her own potential, feel welcome, safe and accepted.

Dr. Dagmar Steinmetz      Germany       Entrepreneurship

An accomplished businesswoman herself, Dr. Dagmar Steinmetz was elected Secretary General of FCEM (Femmes Chefs d’Entreprise Mondial) following many years service on the FCEM steering committee. In addition to being a highly successful business consultant, Dr. Steinmetz has contributed positively to the aid of many women’s careers and organizations, giving tirelessly of her time and energy. Since the 1990s, she has served on countless women’s business organizations, including the Association of German Women Entrepreneurs, the Board of the German Women Entrepreneurs Regional Association, Chairman of the German Women Entrepreneurs International Team, member of the German-Czech and German-Slovak Society, the Association of Czech Women Entrepreneurs and Managers, the Slovak Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Business, Austria, Board Member of the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs, Senior Advisor for Europe to WeConnect International as well as serving as a Global Ambassador for TIAW.

Suzanne F. Stevens    Canada     Education

Suzanne F Stevens founded a highly successful communications and training firm, Ignite Excellence Inc., but didn’t stop there. She also created and hosts Wisdom Exchange TV ( a program to support, develop, and empower women internationally. Focused primarily on Africa, this web-enabled platform educates and inspires future African women leaders who in turn share their strategies and tactics for success. These women are called the "Leading Ladies” and are change agents of African companies, communities, countries and continent. To fund this initiative, Suzanne and her husband sold most of their possessions and set off to travel Africa uninterrupted for twenty months, conducting interviews in nine African Countries. To date, Suzanne has interviewed 63 African women pioneers and Wisdom Exchange TV is watched in 77 countries, 27 in Africa. In addition, Suzanne founded the Ignite Excellence Foundation (2007) whose vision is to invest, inspire and develop women leaders in emerging countries with primary focus on education scholarships to prospective African women leaders. A portion of her speaking engagement fees and online product income is donated to the foundation creating a sustainable investment in the economic empowerment of perspective African women leaders.

 Jaleh Taheri     Sweden     Non-Profit/NGO

Jaleh Taheri is a force of nature with passion for change. She has been tireless in her efforts to create a link between Scandinavia and the Middle East that would result in collaborative efforts to increase the participation of women in leadership. Her work has not gone unnoticed and she received strong support in her work to establish and develop Women for Sustainable Growth (WS4G). After planting the seed in 2010, she launched WS4G with an Inaugural Summit supported by academia, corporations, entrepreneurs and diplomats from both the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Sweden in 2011. WS4G's vision has been refined to "promote sustainable growth through increasing female leadership in society and creating a bridge between the GCC and Scandinavia." Their "mission: To encourage, support and develop female leadership in Scandinavia and the GCC. WSG intends to fuel sustainable economic growth and development through collaboration on socially responsible practices in female leadership, sustainability and bridging cultures. Since launch they have held training programs in both the GCC and Scandinavia and continue to develop their network and potential, all of it a direct result of the passion of Jaleh Taheri to make a world of difference for other women as economic drivers.

Aini Tahir     Pakistan      Non-Profit/NGO
In a family of six sisters, Aini Tahir was the first in her family to achieve a higher education and holds a Masters Degree in English. Despite her own progress, she saw too many systemic threats to the security and well being of other women throughout the rural areas she was familiar with. She deplored the oppression of women, the lack of economic security, the sexual, physical and psychological violence, dowry systems, family violence, rape, prostitution and trafficking of women. Seeing conditions deteriorate, she became determined to work for the betterment of women and although only in her 20s, founded the Sindhica Women’s Empowerment Organization in her district of Naushahro Feroze. Sindhica is a platform where women are educated about their rights, informed about gender issues and ways to reduce violence against women. This cooperative society brought thousands of female members to seminars and trainings that worked to support women's economic empowerment. Her own training and work experience has included microcredit, and human rights and she combines these to ensure women are aware of what they are entitled to and know how to get the resources they need to sustain themselves and their families. Ms. Tahir was one of three women from Pakistan nominated for the Asian Rural Women Coalition in 2011.

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