Some of the most innovative, high-impact social enterprises can be found in the finalist lists of competitions. Check out these two award-winning, women-founded social entrepreneurships that are creating a better world for girls and women in India and Pakistan by providing education, employment, and health products.
BLISS Social Enterprise Empowering Adolescent Girls through Sustainable Embroidery Employment
Many girls in Pakistan are not permitted to attend school because of their gender, which severely limits their ability to earn an income, overcome poverty, and become self-empowered. But BLISS (Business and Life Skills School) is looking to change that by establishing a girls-only school where adolescent females attend classes for three hours daily and spend another hour developing business and life skills.
Established by social entrepreneur Saba Gul, a computer science grad from MIT, BLISS has rescued girls born into refugee families who had been forced to work 14 hours per day rather than receive an education. The girls are taught basics in education as well as things such as embroidery skills.
The products they create are used by manufacturers to create handbags that sell in luxury goods marketplaces, profiting the girls $18 for each completed piece of embroidery. This makes it possible for the girls to financially support their families while receiving an education.
Gul has earned all kinds of awards for her high-impact social entrepreneurship, including a partnership with the MIT Sloan Entrepreneurs for International Development (SEID), a fellowship at The Unreasonable Institute, and interviews with prominent news agencies, including NBC and the Huffington Post. She is most recently a finalist on the 2012 Echoing Green list.
AYZH Improving Physical Working Conditions for Rural Women in India
Women in developing countries typically face tremendous physical challenges and poor health care for their unique needs. Pronounced “eyes”, AYZH Health and Livelihood Private Ltd. is a social enterprise that aims to produce and supply products for women that help them achieve better health care and a higher standard of living. They’re taking a for-profit approach to developing, commercializing, and scaling low-cost, high-quality products that rural women want and need to help improve their standard of living.
The JANMA, for instance, is a $2 clean birth kit that helps to reduce child infection and maternal mortality due to giving birth in unclean environments. Women in India source the materials and assemble the kits themselves, and then sell them within their community through an established network of pharmacies, women-focused organizations, and clinics to help improve one another’s wellbeing.
Another product they’ve created is the Sheba Water Filter, which provides high quality drinking water for families at a low cost. The enterprise was founded by Zubaida Bai and Kellen McMartin through a sustainability program at Colorado State University. They have also been recognized numerous times – AYZH was a finalist for an INDEX Award in 2011, a finalist in the 2012 Echoing Green list, and is competing in the Dell Social Innovation Competition.