Since their creation 10 years ago by The International Alliance of Women, their World of Difference 100 awards have recognized 600 women and men who have supported the economic empowerment of women in the following categories: entrepreneurship, corporate, non-profit, education, public service/government, young women leaders and champions.
Past award recipients include:
- Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation
- Madame Penehupifo Pohamba, First Lady of the Republic of Namibia
- Viviane Reding, Luxembourg, Member of the European Parliament
Narmin K. Ismail, Founder and CEO of The Spark of Hope Foundation was one of 2015’s award recipients, pictured above with other Canadian award winners. Nominations were received from 54 different countries and provided a vivid look at the inspiring work that women and men around the world are doing to support the economic empowerment of women.
Narmin Ismail, Canada, Education/Community (2noms)
When Narmin Ismail founded the Spark of Hope Foundation in April 2014, she wanted to raise funds for university level needs-based scholarships for bright young women with strong leadership potential, so that these women can make a huge social and economic impact in their communities as tomorrow’s leaders. Her hope was that by September 2015, the Foundation would be supporting six to ten such bright women. But she had no funds, no charitable status, no board, no students, no, on-ground partners, and no university collaborations. Within six short months, the Foundation reached its three year target of supporting 25 women!
Today, the Foundation supports 25 women, often from areas of turmoil: from Syria, Palestine, refugee camps in Lebanon, the Kyrgyz Republic, Northern areas of Pakistan, and Argentina, attending the Aga Khan University, the American University of Beirut, the Asian University for Women, the Lebanese American University, the Sorbonne, and the University of Bern. These students are in Bachelors level programs (five), professional programs like medicine and engineering (four), Masters of Education programs (15), and at the PhD level (one). Plus some 30 students have enrolled in an Intensive online English language program.
She now has a Founding Board and additional strong governance in the form of an Advisory Board. They have brought needed support, encouragement and out-of-the-box thinking. There is also a growing pool of volunteers. Narmin has negotiated multi-year collaboration agreements with on-ground partners and universities. The University agreements over ten years amount to over $13 million already. Finally, she has single-handedly raised $520,000 in donations and co-funding support for 2014-2015. For 2015-2016, with the assistance of the Board, she is on target to double the number of scholarships from 25 to at least 50 women, and to exceed $1 million in donations and co-funding.