March 8th was designated as International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. For one day, individuals, governments and organizations came together to honor the achievements of women worldwide–one day. Yet, each day, ordinary women are accomplishing something thanks to the support of organizations like MET Community.
MET Community is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs through free mentoring, training and networking. With chapters in the United States, Latin America and Spain, the organization has been able to support hundreds of aspiring women entrepreneurs –many who would not have been able to afford the types of services that MET provides due to economic and gender discrimination.
So, what is the connection to India, you ask?
Expanding MET Community’s to India and its Diaspora
A couple of years ago, I met the founder of MET Community, Yanire Brana, and I became inspired. Seeing a need for mentoring and training for aspiring women entrepreneurs, Braña launched MET Community in 2007. The organization grew organically with chapters in Spain and Latin America. Inspired by her work and a former business owner myself, I joined the US chapter leadership, creating trainings to support MET’s global network.
Today, the organization is looking to expand its efforts beyond the United States, Spanish and Latin American Communities to India (women represent only 10 percent the nation’s entrepreneurs) and its Diaspora. We truly believe that the work that we’re doing will be invaluable to the thousands (possibly millions) of Indian women who have aspirations of being financially independent, successful entrepreneurs.
And we’re taking steps to establish a presence by:
Establishing a chapter in New Delhi
Partnering with the Vincente Ferrer Foundation USA (VFF USA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating poverty and building sustainable communities in rural India by empowering women through education, trainings and community involvement, on programs and trainings
Raising awareness of our organization and programs through Indian communities in the United States through public relations and community outreach.
Making Women Economic Empowerment a Personal Mission
As an Indian- American woman (born and raised in the United States), I am extremely excited about expanding MET Community’s mission to India’s diaspora. We have seen the impact MET is making in Latin American communities, helping ordinary women with aspirations of turning their dreams into realities. As a result, ordinary women are able to not only support their families, but transform their small communities into prosperous ones. We believe our model of mentoring, training and networking can do the same for Indian women entrepreneurs because investing in women today promises a prosperous future for generations.
Stories of Women Change Makers
On March 9th MET Community partnered with VFF USA on a NEW storytelling series of women recognizing women change makers. More than 100 people gathered together at WeWork Dupont, located in the heart of Washington DC, to hear the stories 0f women leaders who had the opportunity to meet and empower them through their journeys.
“International Women’s Day represents the heart of VFF and our mission to elevate communities by supporting women,” VFF USA Executive Director, Angelina Klouthis said. “Celebrating International Women’s Day in collaboration with amazing partners is helping us continue to give a voice to the millions of women who silently are revolutionizing the world.”
“Women have unique qualities and experiences that allow them to change the world in a very positive way,” said Yanire Braña, Executive Director of MET Community. “This event was an opportunity to demonstrate how ordinary women, who work hard each day to take care of their families, are also bringing change and innovation within their communities.”
Latha, an Indian woman who fought against stereotypes to receive an education and become financially independent
Maria Alejandra, a Colombian woman whose mission to save her farm animals turned into a successful business venture
Nawal Al-Hosany, a woman from UAE who promotes sustainability and renewable energy around the world
Petita Ayarza, an indigenous woman from Panama who established sustainable communities on several islands
Olivia Tamayo, a Mexican farmworker who fought against sexual abuse on US farms
Jean Redmann, a Native American woman who is continuing to keep the indigenous traditions of her heritage alive and helping her community
Alice Bownman, Jean Reddemann’s grandmother, whose determination to keep her family together and traditions alive, caused her to risk her life to escape an Indian Reservation more than a century ago.
Their stories were shared by:
- Angelina Klouthis is the Executive Director of VFF USA
- Yanire Braña is the President of MET Community
- Martin Gurria is the founder of AgroBigData and MET mentor
- Monica Ramirez is the Director of Gender Equality and Advocacy for the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA)
- Jean Reddemann is a Native American counselor
- Patricia Gomez and Ross Reddemann is the Son and Daughter-in-Law of Jean Reddemann
Vicente Ferrer Foundation USA (VFF USA) is a non-profit organization committed to eliminating poverty in rural India. The organization works to empower the most marginalized communities by focusing on six major areas of interest in rural India including: Health Equity, Education for Empowerment, Rural Infrastructure, Sustainable Environment, Women’s Development and People with Disabilities. For more information, please visit www.vffusa.org.
Sherrie Bakshi is the Director of MET Community’s US Chapter. A communications and web strategist with more than 15 years of experience in marketing, communications and web development, she works closely with associations and nonprofit organizations. She is also a published writer with articles appearing in PRSA’s Tactics, Charleston Magazine and Qatar In-flight Magazine. Sherrie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of South Carolina.