Victoria Kisyombe (ISEP 2011-Fontainebleau) was awarded the Vital Voices Global Leadership Economic Empowerment Award by Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC for her trailblazing work to empower women through micro leasing in Tanzania as founder and CEO of SELFINA.
Founded in 2002, Selfina's mission has set out to increase the incomes and employment of women who own micro enterprises in Tanzania, by helping them and their businesses grow. Its innovative use of assets to access credit has made it a pioneer of micro-credit and micro-leasing that have enabled women who would not otherwise be able access financing. SELFINA has maintained a particular focus on widows and young girls and helping them overcome customs and traditions that often make it difficult for women to own land and assets. In its 11 year history, SELFINA has empowered more than 25,000 women with a total credit worth 25 billion Tanzanian Shillings [approximately $16 million US dollars]. Over 200,000 lives have been impacted through the benefits accrued. Women are now owners of their own businesses and more than 125,000 jobs have been created. Victoria was herself widowed but made good use of Sero, a cow left behind by her late husband as a productive asset to generate income. (see video)
Vital Voices Global Partnership was co-founded by Hillary Rodham Clinton to honour and celebrate women leaders around the world who work to strengthen democracy, increase economic opportunity and protect human rights. In addition to Secretary Clinton, this year’s awards were presented by television news anchor Norah O'Donnell and fashion designer and activist Diane von Furstenberg to the five outstanding women from Syria, Iraq, Tanzania, India and Guatemala. Past honorees and presenters have included Oscar winner Sally Field, Angelina Jolie, Aung San Suu Kyi, Ben Affleck, Reese Witherspoon and Malala Yousafzai.