Since 2009, designer Diane von Furstenberg has been honoring extraordinary women who are transforming the world through their leadership and vision. And this year is no different.
The sixth annual DVF Awards, which will be distributed at an A-list event on April 23 at the United Nations, consist of multiple categories, including the Inspiration Award, the Lifetime Leadership Award and the People’s Voice Award, which is selected by popular vote from four nominees based in the U.S.
Each honoree receives $50,000 from the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to further her work at the organization with which she is affiliated.
Voting for the People’s Voice Award began yesterday, and the nominees include Maya Nussbaum, founder and executive director of Girls Write Now; Nancy Lublin, founder and CEO of Crisis Text Line; Kate Atwood, founder of Kate’s Club; and Becky Straw and Jody Landers, co-founders of The Adventure Project.
FN took a few moments to chat with Straw, whose nonprofit works to create employment opportunities that directly benefit communities in developing countries.
Full disclosure: This writer is on friendly terms with Straw so instead of explaining her mission, we’ll let Straw do that herself:
What prompted you and Jody to start The Adventure Project?
“I was standing in one of the largest displacement camps outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with Jody and Esther Havens, a humanitarian photographer, when three burly men called out and approached us. I assumed these guys were going to beg for something. Instead, one wrung his hands and sheepishly said, ‘Excuse me, ma’am, but we’re wondering if you are hiring? Because we really want to work.’ I realized people all over the world want the same things: the opportunity to care for their families, send their kids to school and lead healthy lives.”
What are your organization’s main goals?
“The Adventure Project creates jobs by giving people the tools, education and resources to become entrepreneurs. Our focus is to redirect charity toward jobs that lift people out of poverty while transforming local communities with improved health, decreased hunger, a safer environment and clean water. We use rigorous data to understand the most effective ways to move people out of poverty — for good.”
Where do you think you’re having the biggest impact right now?
“Our biggest impact right now is in our health programs in Uganda, where local leaders are trained to become Health Care Agents. These women earn a living selling over 60 health products at affordable prices and caring for approximately 700 people in their community, giving special attention to pregnant mothers and young children. In these communities, our partners have seen a 27 percent decrease in child mortality rate. That’s amazing. We are now working on scaling the program to more communities across the country.”
Why should people vote for you?
“Jody and I are honored to be nominees for the DVF People’s Voice Award. In four years, with only three full-time employees and a dozen passionate interns, we have employed 745 entrepreneurs in India, Haiti, Kenya and Uganda, which include well mechanics, healthcare workers, farmers and stove masons. Together they serve over 1 million people each day. We are a small organization with big impact and we have only three weeks to recruit 20,000 friends to vote.”
If you win the grant, what do you hope to achieve?
“This grant could affect the lives of countless people by increasing TAP’s reach and resources. With our partners, we’re working to build out a tech app that will help track the jobs we create, intake interviews for new entrepreneurs, well locations and will directly link donors to the lives they are transforming in real-time. It will allow us to track growth and scale our impact across the world.”
To place your vote for the People’s Voice Award, visit the DVF website.