From The Photographer: Capturing Female Entrepreneurship

Arete
5 min readJul 6, 2023
Photo: Keoma Zec / Cherie Blair Foundation for Women / Arete

Around the world, 70% of those living on less than $2 a day are women and girls (UN Women). Although progress is being made in providing equal economic opportunities for women, the pace of change can seem frustratingly slow. At the current rate, it may take another 286 years to remove discriminatory laws and close prevailing gaps in legal protections for women and girls (UN Women).

Recognising the enormous potential of female entrepreneurship is key to the future of global development. Arete has collaborated with many dynamic organisations who are committed to empowering female entrepreneurs. Their work goes beyond the short-term impact of raising funds, support and awareness. As the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women puts it, their work empowers women to ‘redefine the future for themselves and their societies.’

Arete’s photographers understand that there is more to the images they help to create than fundraising. Each powerful image carries the ability to redress the imbalance in representation around female entrepreneurship — little by little changing perceptions and attitudes about the role of women in society.

The status-quo is constantly maintained (and altered) by representation. Ensuring the success stories of female entrepreneurs are given the chance to shine can contribute to a future in which opportunities for women are abundant, and generations are inspired for decades to come.

In this blog we showcase Arete photographers who have worked with organisations that empower female entrepreneurs.

Participants pose for a group photograph at the Road to Growth programme at the Enterprise Development Centre, Nigeria. The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Road to Growth programme has supported over 4,000 women entrepreneurs to build and develop their businesses.
Photo: Benson Ibeabuchi / Cherie Blair Foundation for Women / Arete

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women works towards a future where every woman and girl can enjoy equal economic opportunities so they can live to their full potential. Their work is underpinned by the belief that removing barriers that women entrepreneurs face is a vital part of achieving that equality.

Arete has worked with them on multiple projects, spanning five countries in three continents.

Gill Ingosi, founder of Brighter Spaces Interiors, takes measurements on-site at one of her client’s homes in Kenya. Photo: Kevin Gitonga / Cherie Blair Foundation for Women / Arete

Gill Ingosi’s interior design business is creating safe, comfortable, and sustainable home designs.

Read her full story.

Aolat practises how to pitch in front of the class at the Road to Growth programme organised by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women at the Enterprise Development Centre, Nigeria.
Photo: Benson Ibeabuchi / Cherie Blair Foundation for Women / Arete
Dr Catherine Musyoka, Founder of Fountain of Hope Addiction Treatment Centre, chats with one of her patients in Kenya.
Photo: Kevin Gitonga / Cherie Blair Foundation for Women / Arete

“According to statistics, one in every four people have a diagnosed mental health problem, so there is a great need for our facility in Kenya. However, I noticed that while my services were in demand, my business was a mess. I was not seeing much financial return for the work being put in. So I decided to do something about it… The opportunity to attend the programme was one of the best things that happened to me.”

Dr Catherine Musyoka

Read her full story.

Nakaida, a participant in The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Road to Growth Programme and the head of a construction company, in Guyana.
Photo: Keoma Zec / Cherie Blair Foundation for Women / Arete
Upsana, a user of the HerVenture app, interacts with one of her employees at her garment factory in Georgetown, Guyana. The HerVenture app offers women entrepreneurs essential business training and support on the go, with one in 50 women in Guyana now using it.
Photo: Keoma Zec / Cherie Blair Foundation for Women / Arete
Muna, Founder of MUBI leathers, poses for a photo with one of her finished products at a workshop in Kenya.
Photo: Kevin Gitonga / Cherie Blair Foundation for Women / Arete

“The Road to Growth programme basically tells us that it’s okay — it’s okay to be running a business. It’s okay to be a mother. It’s okay to learn every day and make a better person out of yourself.”

Muna Elmi, Founder of Mubi Leather and Road to Growth alumna

Read her full story.

Odeta, a refugee from Burundi, works in her garden where she grows food to eat and sell to support her 5 children in Uganda.
Photo: Kate Holt / Opportunity International / Arete

Opportunity International

Opportunity International is working to end global poverty by providing a hand up, not a handout. They believe that enabling individuals to create dignified and sustainable work is the foundation for transforming their lives, their children’s futures, and their communities.

Opportunity International focuses significant attention and resources on empowering women. 97% of its clients are women, reinvesting in their children and communities.

Patron of Opportunity International, Her Royal Highness, Anne, Princess Royal, interacts with Sephora of the Unleashed youth entrepreneur group in a refugee settlement, Uganda.
Opportunity International is working in Uganda to provide access to life-changing financial service, such as financial training, loans, and savings — to enable refugees to build sustainable businesses and work their way out of poverty.
Photo: Luke Dray / Opportunity International / Arete
Fwaina, secretary of her VSLA, takes attendance and records payments at a VSLA meeting in Malawi.
Opportunity International is working in Malawi to create and support Village Saving and Loan groups and mentoring programmes that help women to create their own businesses.
Photo: Eden Sparke / Opportunity International / Arete
Graduates from the Opportunity International mentorship programme celebrate with their certificates at a ceremony in Malawi.
Photo: Eden Sparke / Opportunity International / Arete

Youth Business International

Supported by a grant from Google.org, Youth Business International (YBI) leads a growing global network of 50 enterprise support organisations with a passion for empowering underserved young people to start, scale and sustain their businesses.

Arete partnered with Youth Business International and Google.org to publicise their Rapid Response Programme. The Google-funded programme offered support to micro, small and medium sized businesses struggling to get through the unprecedented effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in 32 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

Arete and its consultants have a passion for amplifying the brilliant work of our clients, working hard to understand their values and goals, and letting those shine through in the individual stories we tell. The stories of female entrepreneurs are so often filled with hope and inspiration, so giving them life makes for powerful content that is a joy to create.

If you are working with female entrepreneurs, or any group that deserves to be empowered through high quality representation, reach out to Arete today and find out how we can help.

Our award-winning journalists, photographers and content providers are eager to help you make a difference.

Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.

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Arete

Arete is the expert storytelling and training agency for NGOs, UN bodies and foundations.