Working with a supportive team of women to support female entrepreneurs
Alumni spotlight | Lauren Lewis, BA (Hons) Politics with Global Development, Class of 2021
Lauren Lewis - Programme Associate at Sundara.
Tell us about your current role and what it involves
RISE by Sundara is a non-profit (based in the US) that supports female entrepreneurs in emerging economies to resolve critical water, sanitation and hygiene issues. Recently, we have also created our Emergency Aid program to provide urgent water, sanitation, hygiene and COVID-19 relief.
I work as their Program Associate. My main responsibilities include:
- Communications (I create and post content on all of their social media platforms, create newsletters and write blog posts - @sundara_fund)
- Fundraising - I support our board members who are on our events committee to run both online and in-person fundraisers (including crowdfunding). I also support with CSR partnerships / donor communication and recruitment for our RISE100 committee
- WASH project management - for both our RISE Fellowship and Emergency Aid program, I support with reviewing the applications, undertaking interviews, deciding whether they would be a good fit for our fellowship or aid program
- Monitoring and Evaluation - we require reporting from our fellows and emergency aid participants. I make sure that we receive all of the reports and will then tailor the mentorship to suit our RISE Fellows needs dependent on their reporting.
These are my main responsibilities, but I also take on other tasks dependent on the organisation's needs (I am also currently managing an intern!).
How did you find this job?
In 2018, I was volunteering in India with a different organisation and found Sundara, which was a soap-recycling non-profit organisation that employed women to collect used soap from hotel chains such as the Hilton, take them back to workshops (which were in tribal villages and slum areas), clean the soap and distribute them to their community for free. I loved the idea of this organisation as it made women financially independent whilst majorly impacting the health of the local community. I spoke to the Founder of the organisation that I was volunteering with, who connected me with Sundara's Founder, Erin. When I returned to England, I spoke with Erin and continued to support Sundara from England (through Facebook birthday fundraisers etc.).
During the lockdown, I saw on LinkedIn that Sundara had pivoted as an organisation to support female entrepreneurs working in WASH across the globe. This was in response to the need caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I then reached back out to Erin to find out more about it. On this phone call, I offered to volunteer, and Erin told me that she believed in paying women for their work and offered me a job which I started part-time in September 2020 and became full time after I completed my assessments.
What do you enjoy about your job the most?
I work with an incredibly supportive team of women who have allowed me to grow as a professional - I love how I am trusted to select our programs. It's great to see the impact that has come from supporting female entrepreneurs, as well as the knock-on effect that this has on their community's health.
What skills that you learnt at university have you been able to apply in your role?
The content from my degree that I have used the most was:
- Looking at budgets
- Logical frameworks
- Community mapping
- Project proposals
- Stakeholder mapping
- Theory of change
What will your story be?
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