Celebrating young leaders

Business Impact: Celebrating young leaders
A former AMBA MBA Student of the Year offers a case study in pursuing a career with impact, as described by the European Young Leaders programme on the occasion of its 10th anniversary

Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke is a British CEO and a towering figure in the world of women’s empowerment and information technology. She is also the founder of the Women’s WorldWide Web (W4.org) an online crowdfunding platform dedicated to protecting girls’ and women’s empowerment around the world, as well as promoting human rights and access to technology.

A member of the European Young Leaders (EYL40) network since 2012, Nefesh-Clarke has contributed to many policy discussions in Brussels, and brought women’s technological empowerment to the fore. Led by the think tank Friends of Europe, the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme brings talented, established leaders that are aged 40 and under together each year. These are leaders who have made their mark in a wide range of fields including politics, science, media, NGOs, the arts and civil society as well as business.

Catalysing empowerment

To celebrate this year marking the 10th anniversary of the European Young Leaders programme, Nefesh-Clarke was selected for her inimitable feats in advancing girls’ and women’s rights and empowerment. It all started in Bangladesh, where Nefesh-Clarke embarked on an IT entrepreneurial adventure. There, she trained with Grameen Bank, founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, and studied the Grameen microfinance model’s impact on remote Bangladeshi villages. Inspired by Grameen ‘telephone ladies’’ leading of a wave of telecommunications connectivity via mobile phones purchased through microloans, Nefesh-Clarke decided to pursue a similar career in women’s empowerment through IT and further a fight she described as “really connecting Bangladesh to the digital era.”

“By harnessing ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) we can really catalyse girls’ and womens’ empowerment, and catalyse positive change. ICTs can yield vast benefits for girls and women, in terms of providing them with opportunities and resources. Of course, that requires access to ICTs, that’s on the one hand. And then today in our digital age, we have an unprecedented opportunity to advance girls’ and women’s rights and their empowerment.”

From MBA Student of the Year to pioneering access to IT training

Nefesh-Clarke has previously worked with Human Rights Watch, UNICEF and Enfants d’Asie. An executive MBA alumna of ESCP Europe, she received the MBA Student of the Year award from BGA’s sister organisation, the Association of MBAs (AMBA) in 2009. In 2016, Lindsey was selected as a Young Entrepreneur and member of the French delegation to participate in the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Summit in Beijing. She has also been named a Woman in IT Role Model (European Commission), InspiringFifty female leader in Europe’s technology sector, and is the Simone Award recipient for the year 2020. She is now a board member of Women’s Economic Imperative and advisor of UN Women France.

She occupies the role of senior fellow for Friend of Europe’s Connected Europe programme. Today, she continues her pioneering work to provide girls and women in Kenya and also in rural Maasai land with access to IT skills training. W4.org is currently partnering with EmpServe, a youth-centred organisation, to implement training programmes which encompass basic and advanced IT skills and social entrepreneurship.

To today’s female IT graduates, Nefesh-Clarke is more hopeful than she has ever been. “This was a very challenging period for you, just emerging from a global pandemic, and you persevered, you were dedicated, you were assiduous. And today we were able to celebrate you […] But I hope this is just the beginning of your tech journey.”

Led by the think tank Friends of Europe, the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme brings talented, established leaders that are aged 40 and under together each year.

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