Mame Ndiaye on empowering women through social entrepreneurship and social economy

On the evening of Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, the Sauvé Foundation hosted a presentation and panel discussion entitled “Empowering Women Through Social Entrepreneurship and The Social Economy.” Led by 2012-2013 Sauvé Scholar Mame Diarra Bousso Ndiaye, the event gave participants a chance to deepen their understanding of women’s ongoing struggle for justice around the globe.

Mame reported the results of her research into the social and economic re-integration of oppressed youth and women, and brought her particular expertise on the sub-Saharan African context to bear on these crucial causes. In particular, she put forward a vision of how social entrepreneurs could leverage the tools of the economy to enhance the autonomy of these often marginalized groups.

Mame opened the evening with a presentation on her work to build the capacity and influence of Solidarité Active, the NGO she founded in 2002 to address social inequities in Senegal. Her efforts have resulted in a project she proudly calls “Second Chance Academy.” The Academy will serve as a rehabilitation centre enabling women and youth to find the help they need to lift themselves out of poverty. Not only will it provide access to educational programs and professional training (with a special focus on literacy and vocational learning), but it will also establish a guaranteed common fund to help people get the financial credit they need to start their own businesses.

Following her presentation, Mame initiated a lively and heartfelt panel discussion, moderated by Program Director Simone Hanchet. The distinguished panelists included Wanda Bedard, founder and president of 60 Million Girls; Jennifer Lonergan, founder and executive director of Artistri Sud; and Stéphanie Emond, development manager for the Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA).

These leaders in their fields each conveyed a unique perspective on the global challenges facing women today, and reminded participants of the foundational role of women’s issues within broader projects of international development. Ms. Bedard spoke of the importance of education and economic empowerment in changing the destinies of future generations. Ms. Lonergan discussed her experiences helping craftswomen and artisans to build businesses, connect to global markets, and generate an independent income. Mme. Emond explained the power of micro-finance, and described how models of standard banking can be adapted to benefit weaker economies.

Audience members were then invited to join the conversation through a lively question and answer period. Then, over refreshments, participants and presenters took great pleasure in coming together to probe even more deeply the issues of the night.

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