Project Inspire is a joint initiative by the Singapore Committee for UN Women (UN Women Singapore) and MasterCard to inspire young change agents, and help them create a better world of opportunities for women and girls in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.
The inaugural event was launched in 2011 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and the 25th anniversary of MasterCard in the three regions. Project Inspire presents 18-35 year olds with a five-minute platform to pitch their inspired idea to the world and win a US$25,000 grant to make their idea a reality.
The grant will also be used to support an existing women’s empowerment program aimed at helping women and girls in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East or Africa attain sustained livelihood through business and livelihood skills.
(Image: Miss Sadie St. Denis from Canada representing Shanti Uganda)
The Grand Finals was held at the Claude & Tuulikki Janssen Auditorium of INSEAD Asia on 30 August in Singapore. This year’s competition has attracted a record of 577 submissions from 62 countries worldwide, the highest number received over the past three years. 10 finalists, deemed to have the most sustainable idea with the greatest possible social impact, were shortlisted and given a chance to pitch. Each pitch was evaluated based on its sustainability, impact and economic or social benefit to disadvantaged women and girls in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East or Africa.
The judging panel consisted of today’s top global development and social entrepreneurial experts, social advocates, and last year’s winner of Project Inspire. A gruelling round of Q&A session followed after each finalist’s pitch where the judges would enquire more about the feasibility and long-term sustainability of their project ideas. The finalists were expected to have a deep and thorough knowledge of the fundamental details of their projects right at their fingertips in order to best explicate their causes.
Here are the winners of Project Inspire 2013:
1) US$25,000 Women’s Empowerment Grant was awarded to Creative Street Micro-Entrepreneurs project by PROTSAHAN India, benefiting girls at-risk in India
2) US$10,000 Global Reach Award was presented to Global Press Institute, helping disadvantaged women in Bangladesh, Morocco, Tunisia and Papua New Guinea
3) US$10,000 Inspiration Award was given to Empowering Young Disabled Women through Beekeeping by Ka Tutandike Uganda
4) People’s Choice Award went to ILaw ng Tahanan – My Shelter Foundation from the Philippines
The winners gave us an exclusive interview where they shared more about their project ideas and thoughts:
(Image: Miss Tripti Bhadauriya)
1) Project: Creative Street Micro-entrepreneurs
Project Location: India
Team: Sonal Kapoor (India), Shruti Komandur (Singapore), Tripti Bhadauriya (Singapore)
Project Aim: To expand training sessions on designing and handicraft skills for women and girls at-risk in slum areas.
This year’s winner goes to a team consisting of two Singapore Permanent Residents (PR) who worked together with the founder of Protsahan India Foundation, Miss Kapoor, to provide creative education and skills improvement for marginalised young women in destitution, especially those who have been sexually abused. Skills being taught include the creative arts, photography, design and art, cinema, digital technology and theatre amongst many others. These programmes are designed for girls at-risk living in slums to be design entrepreneurs creating handicrafts and sanitary napkins to help them become self-reliant.
Miss Tripti Bhadauriya, a Singapore PR, shared that she felt compelled to do something for the less privileged after realising that the problems of poor sanitation and living conditions would not go away without something being done.
After joining Protsahan on its mission to educate women and children in technology, she added that “There are no age-barriers when it comes to digital technology. If one wants to learn them, you will be given the opportunities to learn so long as the resources are present. I am glad to provide the resources to teach the relevant skills to transform the lives of at-risk girls.”
She strongly encourages the youth in Singapore to step up and come out with ideas to solve underlying social issues, be self-reliant and take bold steps to make changes that benefit their community.
(Image: Miss Sonal Kapoor from PROTSAHAN, India, on winning the Grand Prize and US$25,000 Women’s Empowerment Grant. Source: www.facebook.com/ProjInspire)
(Image: Sadie St. Denis)
2) Project: Shanti Uganda
Project Location: Uganda
Team: Sadie St. Denis (Canada), Salam Jeghbir (Uganda), Robina Mulangila (Uganda)
Project Aim: To improve the capacity of HIV-positive women living in poverty through production and sale of eco-conscious, fashionable jewellery and handbags.
Representing Shanti Uganda is Miss Sadie St. Denis, currently the executive director of Shanti Uganda in Vancouver. Shanti Uganda employs HIV positive women as artisans whose products are marketed to international audience. The profits will go to sustaining the social enterprise along with a women’s health centre.
In July 2011, her visit to one of the maternity wards in a hospital in Uganda saw her feeling helpless and miserable as she witnessed mothers passing away due to the lack of resources. As she experienced death rates on a weekly basis while in Uganda, her sense of compassion for the infants developed and she made up her mind to join Shanti Uganda in wanting to make a difference to the women’s lives. Helping the women in Uganda was her utmost priority at the time because there were 16 women dying everyday and it was a pressing issue that needed to be addressed in a place with one of the world’s highest teenage pregnancy rate.
She also revealed that after working with Shanti Uganda for just over two years, she strongly believes in the power of selfless giving to the world, because it is only when you give, you receive much more than what you can ever ask for (in intangible terms).