Mobilize

ImpactHER

Driving female entrepreneurs to overcome financial barriers and thrive.

NIGERIA, KENYA, MOZAMBIQUE – Although it is the continent with the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs globally, African women face a 42 billion dollars financing gap, according to data from the African Development Bank. Indeed, less than 7 percent of the funding allocated to Africa in 2021 was received by startups led by women. 

This is where ImpactHER comes in: the initiative addresses the gender gap in entrepreneurship, empowering female entrepreneurs across Africa by dismantling barriers.  

ImpactHER mobilizes individuals through utilizing SMS-based support programs, local language training, and strategic partnerships. They provide comprehensive business and digital skills training, connecting women with investors and mentors while ensuring inclusivity through SMS programs. This transformative approach is reshaping the entrepreneurial landscape, empowering one woman at a time. Through language-diverse training, ImpactHER equips African women entrepreneurs with the tools to thrive in the competitive business world.  

Since its launch in 2017, the initiative has mobilized and trained over 7,632,000 women entrepreneurs including women in the rural areas, across 53 African countries to unlock their economic potential and fight poverty. The impact of ImpactHER is far-reaching: teenage mothers in Kenya’s informal settlements have been embraced and uplifted through pro bono digital skills training. Additionally, the initiative provided COVID-19 resilience training to over 10,000 women-owned businesses in African countries. Their transformative programs have converted more than 31,000 non-tech businesses to tech-driven ones and developed digital marketing strategies for WSMEs. 

Beyond training, ImpactHER has provided guidance on gender-smart policies to prevent African women-led businesses from being disproportionately excluded from funding, capturing the attention of 30 African presidents. Some of these influential leaders have embraced the initiative’s recommendations, ensuring that underrepresented women-led businesses receive the vital support they need.

ImpactHER’s commitment to policy advocacy shines through the organization’s co-authorship of a policy brief with UN Women and the African Development Bank. The organization’s dedication extends further as it has partnered with 110 local grassroots organizations, delivering entrepreneurship and digital skills training to underrepresented women. ImpactHER’s collaborations also reach influential leaders and organizations, including the President of Burkina Faso, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the African Development Bank, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, where it contributes valuable expertise and guidance on policies that enable African women entrepreneurs to thrive through the African Continental Free Trade Area. 

As a finalist in the Mobilize category, ImpactHER is dedicated to uniting and empowering African girls and women entrepreneurs, transforming challenges into opportunities. Their work breaks boundaries, redefines success, and creates a more equitable future. ImpactHER actively addresses the SDGs, focusing on gender equality, economic growth, and reduced inequalities. By combating gender disparities and promoting equal opportunities, they demonstrate a strong commitment to fostering an inclusive world aligned with the 2030 Agenda. 

Amina J. Mohammed

Deputy Secretary-General
Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG)

Ms. Amina J. Mohammed is the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Mohammed served as Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action and efforts to protect the natural environment.

Ms. Mohammed first joined the United Nations in 2012 as Special Adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the responsibility for post-2015 development planning. She led the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ms. Mohammed began her career working on the design of schools and clinics in Nigeria. She served as an advocate focused on increasing access to education and other social services, before moving into the public sector, where she rose to the position of adviser to four successive Presidents on poverty, public sector reform, and sustainable development.

Ms. Mohammed has been conferred several honorary doctorates and has served as an adjunct professor, lecturing on international development. The recipient of various global awards, Ms. Mohammed has served on numerous international advisory boards and panels. She is the mother of six children and has two grandchildren.

MAME BALLA

ARTIST, SINGER, SONGWRITER, MUSIC ENTERTAINER, PRODUCER

Mame Balla is a Senegalese singer, songwriter, and music producer based in Europe who sings about peace, environmental issues, the experiences of growing up in West Africa and more.

Mame Balla has worked with Bouba Ndour, producer and brother of the famous singer Youssou Ndour, with whom he released two internationally successful albums. Between his solo career and the former music groups Dancehall Masters and Darou Salam, Mame Balla has partnered with international artists of different music genres such as Senegalese pop singer Viviane, dancer Ndeye Geye, hip hop group Gokh-Bi System, and Dutch-Albanese rapper Jon Tarifa. He has also partnered with Polish and German artists for a jazz project, and performed with Congolese afrobeat singers in the Netherlands. Between 1999 and 2004, Mame Balla and his former group Dancehall Masters received awards as Best New Group and Best Group in The Gambia; and also received the prize Prix de l’intégration at a Senegalese hip-hop awards. Mame Balla took a course in music production at the State of Mic Studio in The Gambia. Performing with Pape Samory and Issa Ndiaye. 

Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile

CULTURAL ARCHITECT, COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST AND PERFORMANCE ARTIST

Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile is an international award-winning cultural architect, communications specialist, performance artist, development practitioner and human rights advocate. OkayAfrica named her one of the 100 Most Influential Women of African Descent in 2018. Her accolades include being nominated for the US State Department’s International Women of Courage Award, a TED Fellow, Queen’s Young Leader, Chevening Scholar, Mandela Washington Fellow, and OutRight’s UN Religion Fellow. She holds a Sociology Masters in Human Rights, Culture, and Social Justice, with a focus on Disability Rights and Public Space Design, from Goldsmiths University of London, UK. Her published writing spans theatre, academic texts and policy analyses. 

MARINA PONTI

DIRECTOR OF THE UN SDG ACTION CAMPAIGN
Ms. Ponti is the Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign since July 2018.
 
Prior, Ms. Ponti served as Global Deputy Director and Regional Director for Europe for over a decade and was at the vanguard of innovative campaign initiatives, building multi-stakeholder coalitions, mobilizing resources and forging long-term partnerships between civil society organizations, local government, parliamentarians, media, the private sector and the UN.
Ms. Ponti served as an advocacy and resource mobilization specialist with UNICEF and the UN Secretariat. She also was Chief Operating Officer of Catapult -a girls and women’s right crowdfunding platform and as Special Advisor on post-2015 during the final negotiations of the Agenda 2030 for the global network Social Watch.
 
Ms. Ponti holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Milan and has completed an executive education programme from INSEAD in Global Management, Finance and Partnerships.

Ulrika Modéer

Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy (BERA) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Ms. Ulrika Modéer officially began her role on 20 August 2018 as UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy. In this role she leads the organization in nurturing and growing key relationships with Member States, and new and emerging partners, as well as lead UNDP’s communications and advocacy, as it works to realize the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals. Ms. Modéer previously served as Sweden’s State Secretary for International Development Cooperation and Climate and has been instrumental in reshaping the country’s international development cooperation to support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. She combines a strong policy background with parliamentary and civil society experience and has had several assignments in Latin America (Bolivia, Guatemala) and Africa (Mozambique/South Africa). Ms. Modéer holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

TOLU OLUBUNMI

FOUNDER AND CEO, LIONS WRITE

Tolu Olubunmi is a Nigerian-born, American-raised chemical engineer turned political strategist, social entrepreneur and public speaker. She is the founder and CEO of the social impact venture, Lions Write. In 2018, Tolu was tapped by the Director-General of the UN Migration Agency (IOM) for a special appointment as Advisor to the UN Department of Global Communications and Manager of the Climate Action Campaign ActNow.  Tolu has established and led numerous NGOs and campaigns focused on education, migration, economic inclusion, sustainability, and climate change. She has worked closely with leaders in government, the private sector, and civil society to shift culture, influence public policy and build strategic and mutually beneficial partnerships – she served on the World Economic Forum’s Migration Council, co-founded Immigrant Heritage Month, and has helped draft and implement U.S. immigration policies.  

Tolu sits on the Board of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League, Board of Directors of USA for IOM. In 2015, the World Economic Forum named her one of 15 Women Changing the World and an Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur. Her inspiring personal story and work have been profiled by several media outlets, including BBC, MSNBC, TIME, CBS, US News and World Report. Tolu is an inaugural Leadership Institute Fellow at the Center for American Progress and holds a chemistry-engineering degree from Washington and Lee University. 

Deadline Extended!

Seeing how many incredible initiatives have been submitted already, we want to give more people a chance to apply.

BY 30 June

His Excellency Mr. Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari

Director General

Qatar Fund for Development

Since 2014, Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari has led the establishment, strategy-setting, partnerships, and funding programs of the Qatar Fund for Development in developing countries. Previously, Mr. Al-Kuwari was the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director – Joint Venture and International Business of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). He has been appointed to the boards of leading organisations, including: Harrods, Volkswagen Group, Fairmont Raffles Group, Songbird Real Estate, Qatar Exchange, Katara Hospitality, and Mowasalat. He holds an Executive MBA in Business Administration from the London Business School, an MBA in Accounting from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Qatar University. He graduated from the Leadership Development Program at Harvard Business School and Qatar Leadership Center.