Dell Empowering Women Challenge

imageby Tommy Lynn

In light of the rapidly growing entrepreneurial “ecosystem” of businesses empowering women and girls worldwide, Dell engaged Verb to create the 2014 Dell Empowering Women Challenge.

Spotlighting women’s empowerment
We designed the Dell Empowering Women Challenge as a spotlight, single-issue competition beyond the broader Dell Social Innovation Challenge to source ideas empowering, educating, and creating business opportunities for women and girls worldwide through world-class mentoring, seed funding and invaluable global exposure.

Global reach
Over 600 student ventures from 55 different countries across the world entered the Dell Empowering Women Challenge, and $35,000 in seed funding was awarded to the top ventures empowering women. 60 semi-finalist teams were carefully matched with a Dell employee or a member of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network, an international network of female business leaders.

Exposure to influencers and brands
With a $15,000 grand prize at stake, three finalist student ventures visited New York City in January 2014 and pitched to a judge panel of public figures including Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild of E.L. Rothschild; Elizabeth Gore of the UN Foundation; Bobbi Dangerfield of Dell; Tom Meredith of Verb; Carol Kurzig of Avon Foundation; Patti Olhendorf from the University of Texas at Austin and Zak Malamed. The award ceremony was co-sponsored by Dell, Verb, TOMS, Lindsay Goldberg, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and NYU Stern.

“We have yet to truly unlock the power of entrepreneurship for the benefit of women and girls worldwide. We know women put 90% of their income back into their communities, so we need to help them succeed in their triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Judging the pitches of the finalist teams of the Dell Empowering Women Challenge, I was struck by the courage and seriousness of these teams. They are taking on audacious challenges and already achieving significant impact.”

-UN Foundation Resident Entrepreneur, Elizabeth Gore

Grand Prize (or) Investing in women’s hygiene in India
The grand prize of $15,000 was awarded to Pasand from Princeton University for their venture improving access to affordable sanitary protection and feminine health education by partnering with schools to provide an interactive curriculum. The topics of study range from menstrual hygiene to rape and sexual assault.

“The Dell Empowering Women Challenge instantly catalyzed Pasand’s timeline for impact. It seems like yesterday that we gathered in New York for the competition, but Dell’s support has already made it possible for us to officially sign on the first partner school for our health curriculum beta test, mobilize six of our 11 team members to get on the ground in India in 2014, and design a set of strategic decisions, backed by the funding we need to get started, that will help to transform reproductive health outcomes, educational attainment, and bargaining power for 500 young women in India by 2015.”

-Ashley Eberhart, Director of Marketing and Co-Founder, Pasand

Time and time again, women and girls in the developing world are identified as the most important group to educate and empower– and the Dell Empowering Women Challenge was our joint contribution to this in partnership with Dell.

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