Author: Olivia Daniels
Today (November 19, 2014) marks the first official day dedicated to celebrating women entrepreneurs around the world. In celebration of the first official Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED), we’re unleashing our Top 10 Women to Watch, as part of our women entreprenership series, which looks at overcoming the gender gap, and the solutions to grow and inspire the community of female leaders and entrepreneurs worldwide.
1. Denise Abulafia – Argentina
Denise Abulafia is the Founder and CEO of Educatina, a Latin American educational website that provides free explanations on a wide variety of educational topics, such as mathematics, health, and languages. In addition to being CEO, Abulafia is the head of content development for biological and quality assurance for all areas of education on the site. Abulafia has always been passionate about science, but it wasn’t until the opportunity to create a company and fill an education gap in Latin American emerged that she realized her entrepreneurial potential.
2. Morgan Berman – Pennsylvania, USA
Morgan Berman is the Founder and CEO of MilkCrate an app that helps to promote sustainability in the local economy of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by connecting people with local resources. Berman created the idea of MilkCrate for her master’s thesis project after she noticed issues with the available resources to find local and responsible businesses. Berman’s company is still new, but she’s labeled it “a green Yelp with soul,” and it already offers nearly 2,000 businesses for consumers to choose from.
3. Sara Cinnamon – California, USA
Sara Cinnamon is the Co-Founder of Abiogenix, which started with the uBox, a smart pillbox that was designed for programs that treat tuberculosis in India. After financial and expansion struggles, Abiogenix was brought to attention when it became one of 10 companies accepted to the Healthbox accelerator program to further their work with the uBox. Cinnamon has her masters in mechanical engineering from MIT and is passionate about using her engineering and design experience to help people.
4. Leila Janah – California, USA
Leila Janah is the Founder and CEO of Sama Group, which comprises Samasource, SamaUSA, and Samahope. Sama Group connects technology and the private sector in ways that greatly improve marginalized people’s access to work, medical care, and education. Janah is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, and an expert on global health. She says, “the only way we are going to end poverty is if we can recognize the inherent capability of even the poorest people on the planet” and that every woman has it within her to mold the world into what she thinks it can be.
5. Tess Michaels – Pennsylvania, USA
Tess Michaels will graduate in 2015 from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a dual degree in Life Sciences and Management, but she is also the Founder and CEO of SOCEANA, a social media site for non-profits and corporations promoting volunteering and philanthropic giving. At UPenn, Michaels is, among other things, Vice President of External Affairs in the Penn Student Government, and she studies HIV-associated dementia as well as social entrepreneurship. Currently just a senior in college, Michaels will surely accomplish even more in her post-grad career.
6. Pashon Murray – Michigan, USA
Pashon Murray is the Co-Founder and Owner of Detroit Dirt, which takes food scraps from restaurants and corporate cafeterias as well as waste from the Detroit Zoo to compost into nutrient rich dirt that makes plants grow exceptionally well. Murray has always been concerned with a lack of sustainable processes, so she is also working with the Media Lab at MIT to create soil blends that can be used for multiple purposes. Murray hopes to open up more locations of Detroit Dirt, and to continue to make the world a more sustainable place for future generations.
7. Sima Najjar – Jordan
Sima Najjar is the Founder and CEO of Ekeif, a site that publishes “how-to” videos in Arabic (“how” translates to “keif” in Arabic). Najjar created Ekeif.com so that Arabic speakers could have access to the kind of “how-to” videos that quickly and effectively answer a wide-variety of day-to-day questions. Ekeif produces 40 videos each month in the areas of Beauty & Style, Home, Food, Arts & Crafts, Health & Wellbeing, and Parenting. In 2013, Najjar was awarded the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards Laureate for MENA. Ekeif is already very popular with Saudi Arabian women, but Najjar hopes to expand with voice-overs in other languages to appeal to other audiences, like Turkish and Persian.
8. Cherae Robinson – New York, USA
Cherae Robinson is the Founder and CEO of Rare Customs, which combines tourism and development to modernize the tourism value chain by engaging travelers in new ways and ensuring the tourism industry in Africa grows sustainably. Robinson spent almost 10 years working on raising support for international organizations in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, when she realized she wanted to take a different approach to promoting development. Robinson won First Place at the 2014 She Leads Africa Startup Competition. Rare Customs’ first consumer product is Tastemakers Africa, a mobile app and website that allows travelers to buy curated, upscale experiences in Africa.
9. Michelle Rowley – Oregon, USA
Michelle Rowley is the Founder and Chief Culture Strategist of Cultivate & CO., a consulting company that focuses on helping tech companies build healthy, inclusive, productive fulfilling cultures. Rowley is a self-taught software developer, which allowed her to found and direct Code Scouts, a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring and empowering women to become software developers. She was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2013 and one of Entrepreneur’s 7 Most Powerful Women to Watch in 2014, and will likely be on the radar in 2015.
10. Ajaita Shah – New York, USA
Ajaita Shah is the Founder and CEO of Frontier Markets, an India-based rural marketing, sales, and service distribution company that provides access to affordable and quality consumer durables to the households that need it the most. Frontier Markets works with microfinance institutions and locally trained staff to achieve their goals, and as of 2014 has sold 10,000 solar solutions. Not only is Shah addressing the critical need for clean energy in India, but she is turning locals into entrepreneurs in the process.
Like what you’ve read here? Link back to Part Two of this series, on the 11 Videos to Inspire Women Leaders and Entrepreneurs or Part One, where Neil Blumenthal’s talks about closing the gender gap faced by women worldwide by tackling many of the problems communities face, from poverty to education reform.
To learn more about Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED), visit their website, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @womenseday.