Stephanie Woollard revealed the power of social enterprise

Lauren Kempe –  Roving Student Reporter for E+I 18

Stephanie Woollard is more than just a successful businesswoman; she’s a philanthropic icon who is able to make a living by changing the lives of thousands of women in Nepal and around the world. As to be expected, attending eyes at Wednesday night’s talk were glued to her from the very beginning.

At just 22 years old, Stephanie began the organisation ‘Seven Women’. During her travels, Stephanie met seven disabled women living in a tin shed in Kathmandu as the result of a lifetime of discrimination and social isolation from their villages, and decided she wanted to make a difference, with just $200 to her name.

She used the money to hire professionals that could teach the women important skills, and came up with the idea of selling garments they made to people in Australia, with the goal of providing sustainable employment and a happier life to not only these women, but many around them.

Twelve years later, Stephanie has managed to successfully launch a travel company, Hands on Development, cooking classes, a book as well as wholesaling products to more than 200 stores in Australia; all in support of disadvantaged women in Nepal. It was truly astounding to witness her talk of the difference she has made through social enterprise, and how we can all contribute to revolutionary change in our own small ways.

Seventeen ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ for were highlighted, demonstrating how businesses with a higher goal than just revenue generation can create a lasting difference in a profitable way:

 

By breaking down the stereotype that business is a self-serving, profit-making exercise, Stephanie proved the perfect example of the modern day businesswoman that young people everywhere can aspire to be. Using the policy of ‘trade not aid’ to drive her businesses, in the process she facilitates a more compassionate and tolerant society that’s making revolutionary strides in the world of business, philanthropy, and what modern enterprise means for aspiring innovators.