Women Rebuilding Africa Program (WRAP)

Women Rebuilding Africa Program (WRAP)

Rwanda
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

“1000 Women” has developed an innovative technology-based innovation to inspire, educate and empower women with practical life and business skills in remote regions. Our innovation uses digital audio delivered via small, simple-to-use, hand-held, battery-operated audio players to provide life-enhancing information to women in regions with no internet or even electricity.

About You
Organization:
1000 Women Can Change the World
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Section 1: About You
First Name

Paula

Last Name

Constantino

Country

, MD

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

Organization Name

1000 Women Can Change the World

Organization Phone

410-7077378

Organization Address

4334 English Morning Lane, Ellicott City, MD 12043

Organization Country

, MD

How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, XX

Innovation
What makes your idea unique?

The innovative use of digital audio makes our innovation unique. First, the informative training materials are readily recordable with the use the use of a computer with a microphone and internet connectivity. This enables the materials to be recorded in the native language and dialect of women being served. Since the materials are delivered in audio format, illiteracy is not an impediment. The materials can be tailored to find the specific needs of the women being targeted.

Second, the women being served listen to the digital audio using small, simple-to-use, hand-held, battery- operated audio players that have internal speakers. This enables women to listen to the life-enhancing materials in group settings to facilitate discussion and exchange of ideas among the women. Partner organizations will assist in facilitating this process..

Third, the program materials can be tailored to serve as supplemental communication and training tools for microfinance and microenterprise programs so that the funds being distributed are used more effectively and efficiently.

Fourth, this innovation is fully scalable and can be replicated anywhere in the world.

Fifth, “1000 Women” can partner with organizations anywhere in the world to implement our innovation. A partner organization need only have minimal technology – a single computer with a microphone and internet connectivity.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

Women are the focus of this social enterprise based on the well-established premise that when women benefit, their families, their communities and so many others benefit as well. In 2004, Prof. Muhammad Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize for paving the way to underwrite women’s ability to improve their and, therefore, their family’s lives by providing microloans through the Grameen Bank. Celebrated author and board member, Bill Lamond, introduced his groundbreaking work on “the Feminine Principle” in 2006. In his book entitled, Born to Lead, he posits that “…it is up to the 3.2 billion women on the planet to save it.”

Because “1000 Women” can create specialized individually recorded digital audio information modules (AIM), they can be targeted to reach women in specific remote regions so that the life-enhancing information is geared to meet the specific needs of the women who are listening not only in their own language/dialect but also fitting into their own unique culture. Best of all this information can be accessed by the women from anywhere at any time – using handheld audio players – no need for internet or electricity for them to listen and learn!

The social impact is to build social capacity among the segment of the world population that can benefit the most to lead more productive lives for themselves, their families and their communities.

This innovation is not unlike the “one laptop per child” program in that it can start small in isolated regions but have the potential to expand to reach and benefit the lives of tens of thousands. It uses easily transportable technology that is simple to use but has tremendous impact. It is fully scalable and can be implemented and replicated any where in the world.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

By working with other social enterprises, women’s and microfinance/microenterprise organizations and government agencies that assist at-risk women in developing countries, “1000 Women” can steward these women toward economic equality and sustainability.

Since women make up 70% of the world’s poor with almost two billion women living on less than $2.50 a day, the cycle of poverty perpetuates itself through “poverty mentality” – the belief it is okay to be poor, because everyone is poor. Poverty impacts the health of women and children now, affecting generations to come. Lack of information and resources, as well as lack of money, accelerates the downward spiral of poverty, illness and ignorance
Money alone is not the solution to rural poverty – microfinance and such are a good start but not the entire solution.

Women, with the exception of a fortunate few, tend to view themselves as second-class citizens, somehow less worthy than others. In addition to having to work harder to get to the same place in life, they often have to overcome deep seated beliefs that they are somehow inferior – sometimes even when outwardly successful.

Women need to recognize their intrinsic value, to be enlightened as to how technology can enhance theirs lives and to be empowered with practical life and business skills. This innovation will allow for higher connectivity and skill sharing, which will be tailored to the women’s local environment because it’s for women, by women.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. What might prevent that success?

We have built and are continuing to build a network of women mentors who can offer their expertise and skills to create, edit and enhance the audio information modules. This phase is being administered through our affiliated Women’s Support TEAM where Together Everyone Achieves More.

“1000 Women” is also recruiting Visionaries throughout the world – women who embrace our vision and mission and have contributed at least $1000. These include Elisabeth Gortschacher, Australian Founder of World Leadership Day, Nana Ngobese Founder of Women Forward in South Africa, Linda Hollander, Founder of the Women's Small Business Expo, as well as others.

We are also in communication with world microfinance organizations, including Women’s World Banking, World Bank, and others to increase their likelihood of success. Our innovative model enables the digitally recorded information to be and reused and repurposed, plus it can be listened to over and over again anytime, anywhere for re-enforcement.

“1000 Women” has been building networks and alliances with organizations that benefit women throughout the world, including the Leading Women of Africa, World Leadership Day, Public Welfare Foundation, Women to Women, Peace by Peace, as well as others. One of our missions is work with organizations that have a physical presence in remote regions of Africa.

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

As a result of our consistent efforts, within three years, “1000 Women” expects to have at least a hundred global community partners (NGOs, Foundations, etc.) implementing thousands of life-enhancing programs throughout the world – each program unique with its own infrastructure and information “AIM”ed at the specific needs of the women it serves.

We expect to have built a technology platform with social media, blogs, forums, directories, password protected areas for AIM+, blogs, articles, as well as e-commerce portals for
women globally to market crafts, etc.
We expect to impact the lives of hundreds of thousand of women by inspiring and motivating them and by building self worth and confidence; by enlightening women as to how technology levels the playing field for more equality; and empowering them with practical, useful life and business skills to increase their value to themselves, their families and society at large.
In summary, with its supporters, global partners, funding agencies, corporate sponsors and other like-minded people, “1000 Women” can build social capacity. When implemented in developing regions of Africa our information, skills-based innovation can reduce poverty and hunger; improve maternal health; reduce child mortality; and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure more environmental sustainability; create more economic stability and sustainability; build human capacity for generations to come and create a more peaceful world – the ultimate goal for all.

This is our vision and mission for the next three years... to build social capacity and ultimately to change the world.

How many people will your project serve annually?

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?

Our innovation can indirectly impact public policy by expanding and facilitating the economic equality of women who will in turn have more impact on public policy. As women are empowered, their influence in the public sector will expand exponentially.

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?

No

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?

No

Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation

Building partnerships is critical to the success of our innovation. An integral part of “1000 Women” innovation centers on creating partnership relationships with other like-minded organizations that focus on empowering women in developing countries, especially in Africa for its WRAP.

“1000 Women” offers a technological tool that can significantly enhance the success of hands-on programs that assist women in developing countries, especially in remote regions. These organizations may be limited to face-to-face interaction – challenged by poor roads, lack of infrastructure and communication. “1000 Women” with its digital audio program offers them the capability of expanding their reach and increasing the effectiveness of their programs.

“1000 Women” is seeking to build working partnerships with women’s organizations so it can expand its implementation of its life-enhancing innovation to help reduce poverty and to expand the economic equality of women using its innovative digital audio program.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

“1000 Women” is in the development and implementation stage. Our funding to date has not been sufficient to meet its needs, but we are consistently working to network and to build relationships to support our innovation.

1000 Women has a multi-faceted revenue model with multiple streams of revenue, including Visionaries with special recognition on the website with donations of each $1000 or more; individual donors primarily through online utilizing NetworkForGood application for one-time or recurring donations of any amount; donors at fundraising events and other face-to-face events; grants from foundations, individuals and other funding sources; corporate sponsors, either monetary and in-kind goods, e.g. audio players, batteries, computers, etc.; information provided by mentors in the form of intellectual property; and donations of in-kind services, such as the corporate sponsorship course, assistance with grant procurement, and more.

In addition to the preceding, 1000 Women has also developed presentation materials to solicit funding from grants provided by private foundation and other such sources whose purpose is in alignment with the purpose of this social enterprise. For a sampling of audio information modules (AIM+) developed primarily for at-risk women in the US go to http://www.1000womencanchangetheworld.org/Empowering_Women.html.

Corporate sponsors seeking to build their image and reach emerging markets, especially with technology in developing regions, is another source of funding for 1000 Women. This organization is also seeking in-kind goods and services from technology companies. This includes products, such as audio players, batteries, computers, etc. and services, such as telecommunication services, website hosting platforms, etc.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

The defining moment occurred in a coffee shop as a colleague told me about a book entitled Born to Lead which in effect said that it was up to the 3.2 million women in the world to change it. As a perpetual learner, I believe that we are all works in progress. I envisioned being a catalyst for that change by harnessing technology – especially audio technology.

Since digital audio recordings can be accessed by anyone, at anytime, anywhere in the world, the unique program model for “1000 Women” emerged. Having already established Women’s Support TEAM (WST) with a community of women mentors with an emphasis on audio technology, it was a step toward this nonprofit.

Since I had been recording informational programs for WST for a while, I realized that with computer with a microphone and internet connection, we could record audio information anywhere in any language with digital files being uploaded to an audio player for delivery to the end users. When I made contact with distributor who had a small, simple-to-use, hand-held, battery-operated audio player with internal speakers, another piece fell into place.

Meanwhile, I met a the founder of the Leading Women of Africa who was interested in implementing the innovation in South Africa. It was all coming together.

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

I, Paula Constantino. am the social innovator behind this idea. As the survivor of poverty, unstable childhood and sexual abuse, I learned at a young age what it takes to succeed. I had an intense desire to change my circumstances and motivated myself to become an honors student and ultimately to attend law school and become a trial attorney, trying my first case in Manhattan. I am an attorney by profession but social entrepreneur by choice.

As a result, I believe passionately that we all have within us what it takes to change our lives for the better. My mission with “1000 Women” is to use technology to inspire women to be all that they can be – to recognize their own inner strength to make a difference in their own lives. My desire is to instill in them the passion to begin to take the small steps forward that will ultimately enhance their lives and that of their families and community.

Harnessing audio technology, keeping it simple to use, making it accessible to women in remote areas are the elements that I have integrated into my innovative social program. Learn more about me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulaconstantino.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Web Search (e.g., Google or Yahoo)

If through another source, please provide the information

I learned about the Challenge by being nominated by Bahiyah Yasmeen

ICRW
Does your project address any of the following barriers to women’s technology access and use?

Women’s time poverty, Social norms.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how.

By introducing women in remote, isolated regions to digital audio technology, “1000 Women” breaks through the initial technology barrier. Women using this innovation can receive life-enhancing information in their own villages or homes without having to travel under harsh conditions.

As women listen to and absorb the power information provided via the digital audio, including but not limited to financial literacy, health and hygiene, entrepreneurship, agriculture, and other productive topics, women in developing countries, even those who are illiterate, can learn and expand their horizons. Ultimately, this impacts the social norms in their community as the women become more productive and more involved in their community.

Does your project involve women in one or more of the following stages of the technology lifecycle? Identification of the problem the technology will solve:

Creation and maintenance of market linkages for women's economic outputs, Assessment and evaluation.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how you will ensure women’s involvement in each relevant phase of the technology lifecycle.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how you will ensure women’s involvement in each relevant phase of the technology lifecycle.

One of the missions of “1000 Women” is to build an e-commerce market network for women participating in its programs. This will establish market linkages for women’s economic outputs. Not only do we seek to train women in entrepreneurship but also to open the door to e-commerce using technology to enhance their market productivity.

An integral part of the “1000 Women” innovation is assessment and evaluation. Feedback is critical to our capability to monitor and modify our specific individual programs to meet the unique needs of the women in the precise region being served. Where Internet is available, assessment and evaluation is online.

If women are a focus of your project, how did this focus evolve?

The project focused on women from its conception..

Which type of women will your project reach directly?

Rural, Low income.

In what ways does your project team/leadership involve women?

It is led by a woman/women., The core project team includes women., The core project team includes women from developing countries..

Has your organization formed any new partnerships in response to this challenge? If so, with what type/s of organization/s?

Non-profit/NGO/community-based organization, Women's organization.

Has your project leadership had prior experience with the following?

Working with women, Working with technologies, Working to increase women's economic empowerment through technology, Working on innovation.