Vital Voices GROW Fellowship
Every day, all around the globe, fellows from the Vital Voices (VV) GROW Fellowship are tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges. From advancing economic opportunity to creating more sustainable and healthy products, these women are using business to create social change around the world. In 2023, the Vital Voice GROW program expanded from 50 to 100 fellows around the world with a keen focus on addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The ten-month, virtual fellowship program drives inclusive economic growth and social change by working with women business leaders to grow their businesses and expand their social impact. Often deemed a mini-MBA, the fellows receive training in strategic planning, financial management, marketing and sales, leadership, human resources, social impact measurement, and communications – all designed to help the women create a sustainable, holistic foundation so their businesses can grow.
FedEx is proud to be a multi-year supporter of the annual VV GROW Fellowship, this year reaching 100 like-minded, purpose-driven, women entrepreneurs from 43 countries. Let’s take a quick trip around the world and meet a handful of the 2023 Vital Voices GROW Fellows:
CHIGOZIE BASHUA – THE NUT PLACE LIMITED - NIGERIA
Chigozie Bashua is the founder and chief executive officer of The Nut Place, a sustainable food technology company that makes gluten-free food products from edible nuts. The Nut Place improves nutrition and promotes healthy living in Africa and reduces post-harvest wastage and food losses within the agri-processing value chain. Her social impact programs include the provision of discounted healthy food products for diabetic patients, improving gender equality by running an 80 percent women-led company, and increasing the number of women suppliers and vendors.
KRISTIN KAGETSU – SAATHI – INDIA
Kristin Kagetsu is one of the co-founders and CEO of Saathi, a social enterprise in India dedicated to providing a sustainable and accessible solution for menstrual hygiene to women and girls. Saathi developed 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads from banana fiber and recently has created a new plastic avoidance program addressing plastic pollution at its root cause instead of just at the waste end of the lifecycle. Saatchi measures its impact by increasing income for farmers, employing women, providing access to sanitary pads and MHM education to menstruators from underserved communities, and measuring the plastic waste eliminated and CO2 emissions reduced.
PRAKRITI GAUTAM – KHETIPATI ORGANICS - NEPAL
Prakriti Gautam is the founder and CEO of Khetipati Organics, working in the eastern hills of Nepal with small and marginalized horticulture farmers and local youths. Prakriti was inspired to form Khetipati Organics after witnessing the heart-breaking realities of food loss at the farm-level and the economic vulnerabilities of smallholder farmers in Dhankuta. Determined to fight against food wastage, today, her company works with over 750 farmers across five districts and specializes in dehydrated organic fruit powders, high-altitude spices, and ready-to-eat meals.
CHELSEA BROWN – MILLIE - CANADA
Chelsea Brown is the founder and CEO of Millie, a social enterprise and community that amplifies women’s voices. Millie believes in the power of connection and compassion to expand perspective and improve lives. The Millie Marketplace, an online shop featuring handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces, promotes economic opportunities and empowerment for women, working with makers in more than 15 countries. Chelsea also hosts and produces The Millie Podcast, introducing listeners to extraordinary women, and interviewing thought-leaders and more.
LANESSA HUBBARD – CERTIFIED NAILS – UNITED STATES
Lanessa Hubbard is the owner and nail technician at Certified Nails, a private nail salon suite that focuses on providing healthy hand and foot care services to clients that have foot conditions, are elderly, diabetic, or have compromised immune systems. They are contributing to the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals by supporting community food efforts and empowering women and young girls.
LAURA MONTERO – CASA MAGA – COSTA RICA
Laura Montero is the Founder and Director of Casa Maga, an art academy with high quality standards for teaching acting to kids, teenagers, and adults in a healthy environment. Casa Maga is a place where people can learn how to develop their talents in acting, public speaking, and voice over with innovative learning methods that respect the individual process. They have helped people in their community find their voices, speak out, manage anxiety, find strength and braveness inside, perform on stage and be better, more communicative people in their daily lives.
ELLIE WALTERS – REFUNK – IRELAND
Ellie Walters is the co-founder and CEO of ReFunk, a furniture upcycling platform based in Dublin which connects freelance furniture upcyclers with customers. Their mission is twofold: first, to fuel the circular economy in the furniture sector and address the shocking statistic that 10 million tons of furniture are discarded in landfills annually in the EU. Second, to help predominantly women furniture upcyclers scale their creative passion into a profitable business by creating the ultimate platform for upcycling.
LEILA KHALIFE – GUDTOLLI - LEBANON
Leila Khalife is the CEO and business development manager at Gudtolli Lebanese fresh pasta. Gudtolli’s mission is to create a memorable experience for their customers by providing them with healthy, fresh pasta naturally colored from fresh vegetables, herbs and spices, all produced by women to empower them, and from local ingredients to support Lebanese farmers. Their attention is focused on their suppliers and farmers to ensure that they provide them with ingredients of superior quality and to ensure the certainty of a result that represents the “made in Lebanon” pasta excellence.