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By
Reuters
Published
Jun 8, 2017
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H&M Foundation honours 500 female CEOs from emerging markets

By
Reuters
Published
Jun 8, 2017

From a Peruvian trout farm manager to the head of an Indonesian meatball company, a list of 500 women entrepreneurs in emerging markets was launched on Thursday to challenge the stereotype of a typical company boss and inspire women globally.

The "Foundation 500" list features the portraits and careers of 500 female entrepreneurs in 11 emerging markets where women are often refused the same access to education, financial services and bank loans as men.


H&M Foundation Manager Diana Amini - Reuters


The list, an initiative of humanitarian agency CARE and the non-profit H&M Foundation, mirrors the Fortune 500 list of U.S. companies but highlights unusual chief executives, ranging from a Zambian woman who set up a mobile drug store to a woman in Jordan who set up a temporary tattoo studio.

Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of Swedish retailer H&M that founded the H&M Foundation, said the project was designed to create role models for women in emerging markets and challenging perceptions in developed countries of business leaders.

"The entrepreneur is our time's hero and a role model for many young but the picture given of who is an entrepreneur is still very homogenous and many probably associate it to men from the startup world," Persson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

He said all the women in the list had made an incredible effort.

"But one that stands out to me is Philomene Tia, a multi-entrepreneur from the Ivory Coast who has overcome setbacks such as war and being a refugee, and who has, in spite of it, always returned to the entrepreneurship to create a better future – and a strong voice in society."

The women featured are from Indonesia, the Philippines Nepal, Sri Lanka, Peru, Guatemala, Jordan, Zambia, Burundi, the Ivory Coast and Yemen.

The H&M Foundation, privately funded by the Persson family that founded retailer H&M, said this was part of a women's empowerment program started with CARE in 2014 in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

As part of this project H&M Foundation Manager Diana Amini said about 100,000 women in 20 countries had received between 2,000-15,000 euros in seed capital and skills training to start and expand businesses.

In Burundi, the average rate of increase in income among women in the program was 203 percent in the three years to the end of 2016, she said.

(US$1 = 8.6930 Swedish crowns)

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