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Social Capitalists: Global Fund for Women

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
2007 Social Capitalist Winner

Global Fund for Women

San Francisco, CA
Year founded: 1987
CEO: Kavita Ramdas

What it does

The Global Fund for Women is a nonprofit grantmaking foundation that advances women's human rights worldwide. We are a network of women and men who believe that ensuring women's full equality and participation in society is one of the most effective ways to build a just, peaceful and sustainable world. We raise funds from a variety of sources and make grants to women-led organizations that promote the economic security, health, safety, education and leadership of women and girls.


We have awarded more than $52 million to 3,200 women's organizations in 163 countries since 1987.

How it happens

Almost 20 years ago, the Global Fund for Women recognized that investing in women's leadership at the local, national and international levels was among the most effective instruments for achieving lasting and transformational social change. In poorer countries women's non-governmental organizations are frequently ignored and/or under-funded by both governments and international development programs.

We award grants directly to women's organizations and give them the autonomy to use the funds in ways that best address the needs of women in a given community. Our grants are designed to support women's groups around the globe who are working to end violence against women, provide economic security, improve education for women and girls, advance health and sexual and reproductive rights, and increase women's civic and political participation. For guidance in grantmaking decisions, the Global Fund draws on the resources of more than 100 expert advisors around the world who come from a wide range of backgrounds and provide a better understanding of the context within which women's groups operate.

We are the only foundation in the United States that focuses exclusively on advancing women's rights internationally. Since 1987, we have awarded more than $52 million to 3,200 women's organizations in 163 countries. The Global Fund is often compared to a venture capital firm for women who are playing the role of social entrepreneurs around the world. With small grants between $500 and $20,000, we seed, strengthen and link women's organizations, many of which would not be able to access other kinds of funding.

Our grants create both direct and systemic impact. Direct impact is seen when a $5,000 grant helps Aymara women in Bolivia launch an initiative producing high-quality potatoes, while learning how to have more influence in the labor unions. Systemic impact is seen with examples such as the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL). Ten years ago, the Global Fund was one of the first organizations to fund AIL when it was a small underground organization teaching girls how to read and write, forbidden to operate because the Taliban had outlawed education for girls and women. Led by social entrepreneur and risk-taker Sakena Yacoobi, the group now reaches 350,000 women and children through their education programs and schools, women's human rights training programs, and leadership development.

We seek nothing less than a revolution in the social, economic and political landscapes of countries around the world. Our allies in this bold endeavor are neither daunted nor afraid to demand something that is exquisitely simple and extraordinarily difficult--true equality and dignity for all the women and girls of this world.

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