Women are not just potential beneficiaries of efforts to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. They are also active participants in achieving them. That’s why we organized the SDGs and Her competition to highlight the efforts of women entrepreneurs to create jobs and help reach the global goals.
The 2030 Agenda cannot be realized without the participation of women, particularly those working in the private sector. Indeed, if women had the same lifetime earnings as men, global wealth could increase by $160 trillion—an average of $23,620 per person—in 141 countries studied by the World Bank.
Fortunately, female entrepreneurship is on the rise globally. Women-owned businesses are making tremendous strides in sectors as diverse as health, digital technology, agriculture, transportation, and clean energy.
Vandana Suri, from India, and Saida Yusupova, from Uzbekistan, are two of these entrepreneurs who rose up to face challenges affecting their communities. Their work is directly helping the world reach the SDGs.
In December 2014, a woman was raped by her cab driver in India’s capital city, Delhi, shocking the country. The next day, Vandana Suri, then an investment banker, read in local news stories that the victim said that one of the reasons she was vulnerable to attack was because of the lack of women taxi drivers. Vandana decided she must do something about it, and became a taxi driver herself. Two months after the incident she founded TaxShe, an exclusive, female-only driver-on-demand service. Based in Bangalore, Vandana’s company drives hundreds of girls and women to and from their schools and offices, and also provides late-night airport shuttle services for women passengers.
Female labor force participation rates in India are among the lowest in the world and living conditions for many marginalized communities are tenuous. By selecting women from marginalized communities, providing them with professional skills, and employing them as part- or full-time drivers, TaxShe addresses both problems. TaxShe directly contributes to SDGs seeking gender equality (SDG5), promoting decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), and reducing inequality (SDG10).
Green Business Innovation
Saida Yusupova grew up in Chust, a city in eastern Uzbekistan. Throughout her youth, the city faced energy and heating shortages, as well as constant power outages. She decided then to do something to address these challenges, leading her to earn a master’s degree in sustainable development and to work at the Environment and Energy Unit of the UN Development Program.
Later, as Saida learned about the need for sustainable solutions, she established Green Business Innovation, a company that links the SDGs with green business opportunities, while providing services in the areas of climate change, green technologies, sustainable energy, and renewables. The company contributes to the global goals through efforts to: ensure clean water and sanitation for all (SDG 6 ); promote decent work and economic growth (SDG 8); build industry, innovation, and resilient infrastructure (SDG 9); and take urgent climate action (SDG 13). The company also encourages the next generation of young girls to use IT to solve community problems through a project called Technovation.
SDGs and Her Initiative
Vandana and Saida are joined by many thousands of women entrepreneurs participating in global efforts to achieve the SDGs. Their contributions could inspire other women to follow suit, but too often they are not recognized.
To highlight their efforts, the World Bank Group--in partnership with UNDP, UN Women, and the Wharton School’s Zicklin Center--founded the SDGs and Her initiative last April.
Through an online competition, we invited women entrepreneurs from around the world who own micro-enterprises to share how their businesses support one or more SDGs. The 2019 competition was fierce, with over 1,200 excellent entries from all regions of the world. Vandana and Saida were chosen based on how their work contributes to the SDGs, their businesses’ vision and purpose, and the clarity of their entries.
Vandana and Saida will speak about their work and its impact at an award ceremony on April 11, on the sidelines of the 2019 World Bank Group/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington, DC. This year’s competition was supported by the SDG Partnership Fund, which has contributed generously to the initiative.
In 2018, the SDGs and Her competition flew two of its winners to New York for an awards ceremony, including Lucy Odiwa of Tanzania-based WomenChoice Industries, and Charlot Magayi of Mukuru Clean Stoves of Kenya. The event was a held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2018.