3 inspiring female entrepreneurs you've never even heard of

 
Halima

At Traidcraft Exchange, we sit in a privileged position. Because we work with people from all over the world - often in countries and regions that most people would overlook - we hear stories that few others hear.

While classic examples of inspiring business women might include people like  Sheryl Sandberg, Sara BlakelyIndra Nooyi or even Oprah Winfrey. We know that there are incredible, inspiring, entrepreneurial women all over the world - running successful businesses in hugely challenging circumstances.

We call them the Hidden Entrepreneurs and here are just 3 examples...

 

Halima - Packaging Entrepreneur, Bangladesh

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Before launching her business, Halima struggled to make enough money to pay the bus fare for her children to get to school. She had no land of her own to earn money through farming, but through her own ingenuity and hard work, she is building a better future for her family.

But Halima came up with the idea to make paper bags for carrying groceries. She taught herself to make the bags by taking one apart and studying it. Then she sold them, firstly to her uncle-in-law and then expanded to other market traders.

Thanks to the paper bag business and the training we've given her, Halima can afford to send her kids to school now. She can also feed her daughters nutritious food like fish and eggs, which she couldn't before.

 

Julia - Farming Entrepreneur, Kenya

Julia

All her life Julia has been working hard to make sure she is able to support her family, in a region of Kenya that is badly afflicted by drought. It's unsurprising that she couldn’t make a success of her farm.  Keep in mind that for her ‘success’ meant providing enough food for her family and sending her children to school.

Julia was determined to change things... “Whilst others said the land was useless I worked hardevery day for one year, and have seen huge changes.” 

Thanks to support fromTraidcraft Exchange, Julia has gained new farming skills and knowledge to complement her intelligence and relentless work ethic. Her farm has become so successful that she is now a respected community leader – heading up the local farmers’ co-operative.

 

Sufia - Baking Entrepreneur, Bangladesh

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Like many entrepreneurs, Sufia had a previous career. She tried to make ends meet by labouring in jute extraction – extracting and cleaning the fibres from ‘retted’ jute (jute which has rotted under water to make it easier to work). These fibres are then sold and woven into baskets or bags.

The jute season is just three months long, and Sufia wasn’t even paid a wage – instead receiving one bundle of jute sticks per basket of fibre extracted.

So she got to thinking about new ways to earn money.

Having noticed the busy junction near her house, she knew there was profit to be made by selling home made snacks and hot drinks to hungry passers-by. What she didn’t know was how to access the capital she needed to get started.

We helped Sufia to take part in business training, and join a local savings groups, who lent her a small sum of money. Following this, she felt confident enough to invest in the first batch of ingredients, baking traditional Bangladeshi fried cakes, soaked in sugar syrup.

Now her roadside stall is thriving, and her sweet snacks are building a better future for her family.

 

Even though all these women came from different backgrounds and have found different solutions to their problems, they all have something in common - the willingness to push as hard as you can to reach their goals and dreams.

At Traidcraft Exchange, we aim to give people in developing countries the help they need to build a better future. With the right amount of support, they can achieve life-changing things.

Find out more about our work with Hidden Entrepreneurs.