Stephanie Woollard, Seven Women Founder & CEO will be a keynote speaker at the Humans in Geelong Expo 2017. Stephanie Woollard is a Melbourne-born social entrepreneur, Rotary Foundation Peace Scholar and Rotarian who has created the international aid organisation Seven Women, tour-company Hands On Development and the International Training and Hospitality initiative.
Stephanie started her Seven Women project when she was only 22 years old, after visiting Nepal and meeting seven disabled women making soaps and candles in a small tin shed. In Nepal, disabilities carry a strong social stigma, believed to bring bad fortune. The women were consequently able to sell only a fraction of what they produced at market and lived in dire poverty.
Disturbed by the injustice and isolation these women were facing, she spent her last $200 of travel money to pay two trainers to help up-skill the women and sell their products abroad. Since then Steph has devoted the past decade to changing the lives of disabled and marginalised women in Nepal. The organisation has trained and employed over 1,000 disadvantaged women and has helped more than 5,000 women in remote villages in Nepal offering shelter, medical assistance and education.
Through her tour company, Hands on Development Steph leads specialised tours to Nepal, giving exclusive access and exposure to participants to connect and contribute through their areas of expertise. Her cultural immersions to Nepal and indigenous Australian communities uplift and enrich both locals and tour participants through authentic, inspiring experiences.
The multipurpose International Training and Hospitality initiative provides cooking classes for tourists, funding disadvantaged women to learn culinary and hospitality skills, creating diversified opportunities for employment.
At the Seven Women headquarters, women manufacture fair trade products that are sold both locally and to an international market. These enterprises fund literacy, skills and income generation programs for thousands of women in Nepal. Education programs hosted by Seven Women include practical production skills such as sewing and growing vegetables, literacy classes and money management.
In 2016, Stephanie was recognize on the global stage with a prestigious Rotary Responsible Business Award, one of only six honorees worldwide. The award presentation took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York with @Rotary International President John Germ, more than 1,500 Rotary members, @United Nations officials and NGO leaders present. Other accolades received include, Moral FairGround’s, National Most Ethical Enterprise Award in 2014, the Nepali Association of Victoria’s award for “Commendable service to the Nepalese Community, “and the distinguished La Trobe Young Achiever Alumni of the Year Award in 2016. She has this year also been nominated as Australian of the Year.
Stephanie is a deeply inspiring young woman dedicated to education and empowerment of the world’s most marginalised. Her journey demonstrates how through persistence and unrelenting commitment one person can truly make a difference. Steph’s vision that underpins all her work, is to create a more tolerant and compassionate world.
Stephanie holds an Undergraduate degree in International Development from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia and a Masters degree in Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution from Uppsala University, Sweden.
The Humans in Geelong Expo 2017 is Sunday 8th of October from 10am – 3pm at Deakin Waterfront. It is sponsored by Deakin University, the City of Greater Geelong, Geelong Connected Communities and Snap Printing Geelong.