Project Inspire: MasterCard & UN Women Support Youth Involvement in Women Empowerment Projects

By Georgette Tan, Group Head, Communications, Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard

This year marks the third year since we launched Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World a digital initiative dedicated to inspiring young people to build sustainable projects that will benefit disadvantaged women and girls in Asia/Pacific, the Middle East or Africa – together with the Singapore Committee for UN Women.

Aimed at young, aspiring people aged between 18 and 35, this multi-award winning initiative presents a 5-minute platform to pitch sustainable project ideas – through education, skills training, financial inclusion or social entrepreneurship – and win a US$25,000 grant.

Since 2011, Project Inspire has provided several young people the opportunity to turn their social enterprise ideas into reality. An example is The Hapinoy Program, Grand Prize winner of Project Inspire 2011. The winning project is a micro-entrepreneurship program that equips women homemakers with the knowledge, tools, and resources to run sari-sari stores – small neighborhood convenience stores that are a potent source of livelihood among the underprivileged Filipinos. During my visit to the Philippines earlier this year, I’ve met up with these women who shared with me their stories and told me that with better self-confidence, they want to expand their businesses and taking on new products to sell. Some of them are also paying it forward by teaching underprivileged women across the country how they can start their own sari-sari shops and make a better life for themselves and their families. It’s heartening to learn that the overall lives of these women have changed for the better.

This year’s finalist projects are also equally innovative and exciting. Chosen out of over 570 submissions from youth teams representing more than 60 different countries, this year’s projects comprise a varied range of ideas, including an initiative aimed at helping disabled women run a bee-keeping business in Uganda, a solar lamp project for female inmates in the Philippines as well as a journalism training programme for women in Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Morocco and Tunisia.

Earlier this week, all the ten finalists congregated in Singapore for a full four-day programme with workshops and activities lined up for them, which will culminate in the Project Inspire Grand Finals (30 August 2013, Friday). These ten young hopefuls will pitch their respective projects in front of a live judging panel this Friday to win the Grand Prize and bring their idea to life.

We invite you to join us at Project Inspire’s Grand Finals, which will be streamed live on our website (). Do also support these finalists by casting a vote on for your favourite finalist project for the People’s Choice Award. Each person only gets one vote, so make yours count! (NOTE: the online voting will close on 29 August 2013, Thursday).

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2013 Finalists

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