Ugandan woman photo via Shutterstock

The Third Billion: These Women from Developing Nations are Taking the World by Storm

Ugandan woman photo via Shutterstock

 By Elizabeth Escobar

They’re called the “third billion.” They are the estimated 870 million women from developing countries around the world who are set to take the global economy by storm over the next decade—at which point their number is thought to exceed 1 billion. From India to Colombia to Turkey, female entrepreneurs stand on the cutting edge of progress, filling positions and bringing forth ideas that are making the communities they love and, frankly, the world better. Here, we give you a glimpse of 10 women who are fueling an unparalleled force of girl power and empowering women in the developing world to become a part of the third billion.

 Wafa al-Zerrouki, Wafa Association of Artisan Women

Looking to make the quality of life better for artisan women in rural Morocco, al-Zerrouki founded the Wafa Association of Artisan Women. In the 11 years since its launch, the association has provided female artisans with technical training and workshops aimed at effective marketing strategies for their small businesses.

Celeste Mergens, Days for Girls

After witnessing the unsanitary living conditions for women and girls in an orphanage in Kenya, Mergens knew something needed to be done and that she would be the one to do it. She founded Days for Girls, which advocates for and brings awareness of reproductive health to women and girls in developing countries all over the world. Communities and individuals are given the opportunity to thrive as a result of the education and sustainable feminine hygiene supplies that Days for Girls provides.

Sucharita Eashwar, WEConnect International-India

Empowering fellow women entrepreneurs for most of her adult life, Sucharita Eashwar currently serves as the executive director for WEConnect International in India, which educates and certifies business enterprises throughout the country that are at least 51 percent owned and managed by women.

Buthaina Al Ansari, Qatariat

With degrees from universities in Qatar, London and Cairo, Al Ansari founded and manages the company Qatariat. Focusing on helping the country’s women advance in education and the workforce, Qatariat has three main objectives: strengthening the role of a woman’s confidence in the business world; propelling women’s contributions into the economic and national fields; and offering national and international networking opportunities.

Melek Pulathonak, Turkish Women’s International Network (TurkishWIN)

Pulatkonak is the founder and curator of the TurkishWIN. From this networking platform, women with familial, cultural or professional ties to Turkey can connect virtually, share ideas, and even mentor female university students. TurkishWin also provides scholarship opportunities for future generations of Turkish women.

Elizabeth Kperun, Lizzie’s Creations

Lizzie’s Creations, Kperrun’s brainchild, is a company that creates mobile and web applications that are aimed at educating women and children in Africa. One set of apps, AfroTalez, teach and pass on traditional African folktales to children through puzzles and videos.

Yasmin Belo-Osagic and Afua Osei, She Leads Africa

Management consultants Belo-Osagic and Osei came together to launch She Leads Africa, a startup aimed at sponsoring other female-led startups around the continent. By pairing small companies (often companies consisting solely of one woman) with venture capitalist mentors, She Leads Africa’s promotes these female entrepreneurs and enables their businesses to grow.

Karen Sugar, Women’s Global Empowerment Fund

Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund, Sugar leads a team of dedicated individuals who provide women in northern Uganda with microfinance loans and educational programs. As a result, this nonprofit creates opportunities for a community of women who are then empowered to lead more successful and sustainable lives.

Zainab Salbi, Women for Women

 A dedicated proponent of women’s rights, Salbi, an Iraqi-American, founded Women for Women to help those struggling as a result of war and conflict. By working directly with women in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Afghanistan, the Dominican Republic of Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Sudan, Salbi’s organization gives the women of these countries the skills and resources to improve their lives.


elizabeth escobarAbout the Writer

Elizabeth is a writer living in Boulder, Colorado. Of particular interest to her are topics surrounding travel, sustainability and the link between food and culture. Apart from a good story or conversation, she loves cooking, being outside and exploring a new city. Elizabeth holds a BA in Literature from Colorado State University. Visit her portfolio here or follow on twitter @elizscobar.

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