Supporting women survivors

Lynel

Lynellyn Long PhD is Chair and co-founder of HERA

HERA – a charity which gives women survivors of trafficking, conflict, and other forms of violence, control over their futures – has launched its first crowd funding campaign.

There are an estimated 35.8 million people enslaved in the world. Human trafficking creates approximately $150 billion in illegal revenue annually. Approximately 80% of victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation, with 19% trafficked for labour exploitation.

Survivors, faced with gaps in their resumes and education, encounter further discrimination in returning to the workforce or formal education. They risk being marginalised, forced to remain on social entitlements, and even re-trafficked.

HERA works to prevent this dangerous cycle by building on women survivors’ demonstrated resilience and entrepreneurial skills to achieve their own career aspirations, whether that is completing their education, securing their ideal job and/or starting their own venture.

HERA does this by providing successful entrepreneurs as mentors for the women, and running training courses in association with Imperial College Business School. This gives the women the skills they need to realise their dreams. Over 85% of HERA students advance their careers each year as a result.

For example former students on the course have gone on to set up businesses as diverse as a cleaning company, accountancy services, storytelling workshops, specialised estate agent services, African wedding dresses, an artists’ cooperative, child and elder care services, catering company and fashion and jewellery boutiques.

HERA’s crowdfunding campaign hopes to raise £25,000. For example £100 will cover the travel costs for one student allowing them to attend the summer course at Imperial College Business School. £1000 you’ll fund one student through the entire year long course and provide some additional support for transport or 200 hours of mentoring.

As you’ll see – a very little can go a long, long way. And make a big difference.

Over the past decade, more than 220 people have mentored HERA students in the UK. HERA’s community of volunteers not only provides support to their mentees, but also gain valuable experience in promoting a student’s career. Mentors report that the experience is valuable for building their own support networks and for their own personal growth. Over 75% of the mentoring relationships continue beyond the year.

Imperial College, Salesforce, Net-A-Porter and other leading organisations donate their time to provide training and seminars to HERA students.

In order to meet a growing demand from prospective students, the HERA team is fund raising to continue delivering and testing cutting edge entrepreneurship training and mentoring for UK-based survivors. HERA’s eventual goal is to raise a £2 million endowment to sustain the programme at Imperial College, which will in turn serve as a laboratory and resource for programmes in other countries (including the US, France, and countries in Central and Eastern Europe). Your support will be the first step in scaling up HERA’s own venture to make a global difference.

HERA’s exceptionally low level of overheads is only possible through the generosity of numerous volunteers and Imperial College’s philanthropy. HERA also has only one full time equivalent staff person in the UK. With more funds, HERA could admit more students and further decrease its average cost per student.

Former HERA student Silvia says “A big thank you to HERA for giving me a chance to do the course. I found the course very exciting, fascinating and motivating indeed. The highlight when doing the course was listening to the various speakers brought by the HERA team. This opened my mind and I learned more about the skills needed to start a business. The HERA course encouraged me and gave me a kick-start to rebuild my life. I decided to go and chase my childhood dream to be a lawyer.

“I have just obtained my law degree and I’m looking forward to start a Legal Practice course in September 2014. I am also looking for a training contract at present. I have faced a lot of challenges along the way but I‘m going to continue holding on…reach my goal and be a successful lawyer one day. “

To donate please visit: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/entrepreneurs-against-trafficking#/story

What is HERA
“Her Equality Rights and Autonomy”
“HERA promotes the economic autonomy of young women who have experienced violence and other forms of exploitation, so that they may become entrepreneurs and find formal employment. We focus on entrepreneurship to: prevent trafficking by creating alternatives to dangerous and irregular migration; build on the strengths of survivors to reintegrate into the formal economy; stop re-trafficking; create new livelihoods to address different kinds of vulnerabilities; and to become entrepreneurial about one’s career and life choices.
We work in partnerships with NGOs, government initiatives, and academic institutions to help women achieve economic autonomy and self-sufficiency. HERA promotes an entrepreneurial approach to career development and life choices as a contrast to traditional subservient or passive roles that may have once been imposed upon our students.”

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