Plan Ireland Launches Women’s Innovation Fund 2015

A father recognising his fate during the Spanish Civil War pins a note to the jacket of his 6 year-old son which reads, “When Santander falls, I will be shot, I beg you to worry. I beg you to protect my child.”

When journalist John Langdon-Davies found little Jose wandering the streets in 1937 with this note he did as was asked and Plan International was born. Formally known as ‘The Foster Parents Plan for Children in Spain’ the Plan was set up to care for children whose lives had been disrupted by the Spanish Civil War but today the focus has shifted to long-term community development in countries of need.

Plan Ireland was set up in 2003 as an independent organisation part of Plan International, determined to make a difference, focusing on delivering quality programmes to those they help.

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Caroline Keeling, Geraldine Kelly, Chair, Plan Ireland and Susan Hayes and the Women’s Innovation Fund launch at Google HQ, Dublin

One such programme is the Women’s Innovation Fund where women help women and leading business women directly fund their counterparts in the developing world.

On 26th February over 100 female business leaders united at Google’s headquarters in Dublin to launch the 2015 fund.

Plan Ireland’s Women’s Innovation Fund has taken the successes made on home ground and replicated them across the developing world by providing hands on training and support in technical and business skills.

With a number of high profile ambassadors behind this inspiring programme, real results have been seen. Thousands of women in Sierra Leone have been trained in business skills with last year’s fund resulting in an estimated 2000 women establishing a sustainable business for themselves.

One such Ambassador is Storm Uechtritz, a TV producer, Plan Ireland child sponsor and philanthropist. Speaking in support of the Women’s Innovation Fund she said, “I encourage every business woman in Ireland to get behind this project. We have seen in Ireland, the economic and societal benefits having more women in the workplace has had, and the same principle can apply to emerging economies.”

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Storm Uechtritz speaking at the launch of the Women’s Innovation Fund 2015

The 2015 Fund will target female workers in tea and rubber plantations in Sri Lanka with the aim to build micro-enterprises through IT and E-learning.

With a growing rate of poverty and a low level of education, health and employment in the more rural regions, the Plan will support women living there informing them of their rights and the responsibilities of their government, empowering them to demand better services. It will also work to strengthen the country’s existing women’s organisations, increasing their effectiveness when advocating the interests of their members.

Improving these women’s ICT skills and access to information with regards to livelihood opportunities, finance and employment, the Fund hopes to emulate success stories such as that of Fatmata Koroma from Sierra Leone. By using funds from the Fund Fatmata has started a coconut jelly enterprise as well as a small scale business buying Gara African clothing enabling her to support her family herself.

Emma Williams

Emma is a freelance journalist who wears a number of hats depending on the time of day. She is a mum of two, a writer, a children’s author and a bookworm. You can find her blogging about life at Emma's View.