CDP: Chiara, you founded the non-profit organisation Led By HER which focuses on creating a better world for women. Can you share the kind of impact Led by HER makes and what is involved in that process?
CC: Led By HER is a non-profit based in France that carries out advocacy and programs for women’s entrepreneurship and women’s rights. We have run a program to help women who have suffered from violence become entrepreneurs with courses and individual mentoring.
We created events such as hackathons to mobilise the community around women's entrepreneurship and participate regularly in events and conferences to raise awareness around the causes we believe in. We are now creating a platform to allow companies to help women entrepreneurs directly. This work that we have carried out on the ground over the years was very formative, it has given me new ideas and the willingness to do more. At this time it pushes me to advocate to try to change things on a new level through the visibility that I have gained.
It has provided me with new ideas and visions of what we can do that can make a big difference for women and now more and more I feel that it is my job to make those ideas heard. That is why I try to participate as much as I can in conferences, media and international dialogues, because I think that it is more important than ever to raise awareness around these issues.
CDP: The mentoring program facilitated by Led by HER has been a successful way to connect like-minded women across industry - how important is the mentoring process to empowering women for success both personally and professionally?
CC: At Led By HER we believe in a combined approach. It is important for women to have transversal networks and support each other in the form of a cohort. This gives you the support and understanding of people who have gone and are going through the same challenges as you and you can always learn enormously from your peers who have different skills than you do. Having collective courses is extremely important because we believe that personal evolution is also about learning new skills and tools that you can apply to new situations in order to reach new levels. Finally mentoring and coaching are also crucial in individual development because it is important to focus simultaneously on your own project. Sometimes we learn things but because of challenges and blockages we have difficulties applying them to ourselves and our own projects. That is where the mentor can help create that roadmap and set out the steps we need to get where we want to go. That is extremely helpful on the road to realising our dreams!
CDP: How has your personal and professional background influenced your decision to contribute to the community through Led by HER?
CC: I started my career working on maximising gender impact in investment projects at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Those years convinced me there was an incredible need for projects addressing specifically the advancement of women. I learned that gender equality was never just going to happen but that we needed to proactively create it. This experience made me eager to do just that, but I wanted to contribute in my own way. That is why I decided to create my own non-profit and advocate for the cause on the ground. Being close to the people you want to help also makes you see things differently and gives you new solutions to problems.
I used to think that impact was a big word and impact meant millions of people, that everything had to be big to matter. Actually Led By HER taught me the opposite. Impact is much more about doing small things in a big way. Impact is about the intention and magnitude with which you do every little thing-- and that is what will move mountains. I learned that you change a world one person at a time and each of those small revolutions will foster others.
CDP: Where to next for Led by HER? Can you share any new projects coming up?
CC: We are now extending our impact by creating a platform, FoundHERLab, built with Capgemini which allows companies to mobilise their employees to give probono skill-based volunteering to women entrepreneurs locally. We are now testing the beta and hope in the near future to launch worldwide. Companies can sign up as sponsors and set up the platform as part of their volunteer engagement program. The platform allows employees to be matched with women entrepreneurs locally who need their skills. We hope that the platform will allow companies to have a greater impact on changing the statistics for women entrepreneurs by concretely contributing to their success.
CDP: How can both women and men worldwide connect with the amazing work you are doing?
CC: Women entrepreneurs can definitely join our platform and companies can contact us to become supporting partners of the platform.
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