Visionaria Network is an educational non-profit with training and leadership programs reaching thousands of youth and women entrepreneurs in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. “Visionaria” (Spanish for “female visionary”) represents a mindset, skillset, and identity for young women and women entrepreneurs to plan their futures with creativity and confidence.
Visionaria Network grew from the realization that women and girls who should benefit from community-development projects are too often left out of the design and implementation of those projects. The team behind Visionaria Network has long supported women and girls to be change makers and leaders in their communities and lives.
Our work with women entrepreneurs is centered on the Empowered Entrepreneur Training Handbook (EETH), a tool that we developed with and for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in partnership with Johns Hopkins University. This training incorporates the topics of agency-based empowerment, leadership and business to support women entrepreneurs to be confident, business-competent and ultimately, successful. We recently led training programs for over 60 certified trainers through Winrock International’s Empowered Entrepreneur Training Program — reaching over 1,000 entrepreneurs (and counting) to improve their business selling household energy technologies throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Partnership with the Alliance has been critical in not only developing the EETH, but also promoting and implementing it globally.
Visionaria Network’s primary and flagship program, Visionaria for Schools, is a unique training and support program that enables youth to transform their insecurities and practice leadership through a combination of (1) dynamic classroom curriculum and (2) team-based community projects. The curriculum, designed for integration in secondary schools, includes agency-based empowerment and leadership methodologies from the EETH, adapted for adolescents with an additional unit focused on sustainable development and design thinking. This final unit guides participants to conduct a team project addressing a problem or challenge they are motivated to solve, connected to one or more UN Sustainable Development Goal(s). Past project have included a focus on energy access – such as the promotion, adoption and/or sale of cleaner cookstoves, water filters, and solar lantern technologies. Upon concluding the community projects, teams reflect on and distill their experiences to share relevant insights.
Our Visionaria model engages multiple-layers of stakeholders including students, educators (principals, teachers), and community leaders to create an environment that supports young women and their aspirations. While first pioneered as a leadership program for young women, we realized that the curriculum was relevant for young men, and also that it was critical to engage young men as allies for gender equality. Therefore, the program includes guidance on methods and techniques to adapt activities to each group’s gender makeup and needs.
Visionaria Network is scaling and expanding its teacher training and support methods using a blended learning approach – integrating a mix of technology and traditional face-to-face interaction. We are also developing mobile tools to foster and collect insights of young women (in Visionaria programs and beyond) on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To learn more, please visit: www.visionarianetwork.org
For more about our support of Empowered Entrepreneur Trainings, please visit: www.visionarianetwork.org/empowered-entrepreneur-training