Whether you work in social impact or support the brands and leaders changing the world for the better, there is no shortage of inspiration among these activist, fighters and problem solvers. These three female social entrepreneurs are inspirational and pioneers in the impact space. Unique in their own way, they’ve all created something beautiful and powerful with the business they run.
Suzette Munson, Founder and Designer of Love 41
Suzette Munson is the founder of Love 41, a leather bags and accessories company whose mission is to empower women and children and those who have suffered tremendous loss. She is a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist and inspires many of those around her.
One follower explains, “I have never met anyone that gives more of her love and compassion to those most in need. She should have named her company Love Infinity. As her capacity for love is boundless.“
Suzette is driven by her love of people. She and her family have taken the road less traveled – giving up their traditional home to live in a tent in Texas – also traveling the world to various places while they homeschool their children for work, mainly, but also to see the world and different cultures.
Since their beginnings in 2012, they’ve created quite a large impact sponsoring 350 children in Africa, providing free daycare for 140 children, contributed over $143,000 in monetary donations to the lives of underprivileged around the world through education, job training, food, clothing, the gospel and supplies.
Their work also supports job training for women. Since 2012, 630 women celebrated completion of their programs in vocational sewing or cosmetology, receiving their certificates and special gifts to help them thrive in the next step of their journey through Africa New Life Women’s Center Vocational School.
While their mission began in Rwanda, their work continued to expand into both Mexico and the US. They opened Leonsito’s Day Care in Mexico, a free daycare for all Love 41 employees in Mexico at their factory. Additionally they offer English, computer skills, music and homework to children and adults at the lowest cost in the city to help improve their employment opportunities moving forward.
Gwendolyn Floyd, co-founder of Soko
Soko is a jewelry line like no other of its kind. It’s supported by a technology that allows artisans in remote locations to become entrepreneurs through the skills they already have from using their smartphones. Artisans in developing countries are usually prevented by limited access to technology, geographic challenges, and economic climates from making a greater profit – but with Soko’s custom-built technology, their lives can change for the better.
Bringing expertise from a background in entrepreneurship and using mobile technology in the development space, Gwen co-founded Soko to build a brand, by women and for women, to fashion a better world. With Kenya headquarters in Nairobi, U.S. headquarters in San Francisco, where Gwen is based, and a team in NYC, Soko is truly a global brand. From her westward vantage point, and when she is not working from the Nairobi HQ, Gwen is the face of Soko at Silicon Valley startup conferences and tech events, while working closely with the strategy and marketing teams.
On average, artisans increase their income by a factor of 4x within two months of joining Soko. To date, they’ve helped more than 1,000 artisans, from predominantly female enterprises, generate a total of $400,000 in income across 30 countries.
Shannon Keith, founder of Sudara
Shannon Keith is a mother, wife, activist, and social entrepreneur. On a trip to India more than a decade ago, she was struck by the horrors of modern day slavery and inspired to take action. As Shannon listened to story after story of girls sold into slavery, picked up off the streets, stuck in a life of servitude, she imagined a brand that would connect women around the world to those trying to escape modern day slavery in India. Sudara was Shannon’s solution.
“All of our consumption has a huge impact on both people and planet, and thus we as consumers all have a personal responsibility.”
In her case, it’s keeping women safe from sex trafficking.
What once was International Princess Project (nonprofit) is now Sudara(for-profit), a line of loungewear sold in the United States, made by women in India who are at risk or who have escaped sex trafficking. Currently, Sudara has about 200 women working to sew punjammies with their partner centers. What many don’t realize is that a lack of income is one of the primary reasons women either enter the sex-trade or are forced into it.
“For many of the women, this is their first formal job and is a huge confidence builder–but not the only job they will have for the rest of their careers.”
Sudara helps women with job training, not only in sewing, but also IT, cosmetology, nursting, custom tailoring and more. Their partners train about 200 women every 4 months and have a 89% job placement.