HERA launches crowd funding to help women develop business skills


There are an estimated 35.8 million people enslaved in the world. Human trafficking creates approximately $150 billion in illegal revenue annually. Approximately 80 per cent of victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation, with 19 per cent trafficked for labour exploitation.

HERA works to prevent this by building on women survivors’ demonstrated resilience and entrepreneurial skills to achieve their own career aspirations, whether that is completing their education, securing their ideal job and/or starting their own venture.

This is achieved by providing successful entrepreneurs as mentors for the women, and running training courses in association with Imperial College Business School.

Over 85 per cent of HERA students advance their careers each year as a result, with former students setting up businesses as diverse as a cleaning company, accountancy services, storytelling workshops, specialised estate agent services and African wedding dresses.
HERA’s crowdfunding campaign hopes to raise £25,000. For example £100 will cover the travel costs for one student allowing them to attend the summer course at Imperial College Business School. £1000 will fund one student through the entire year long course and provide some additional support for transport or 200 hours of mentoring.

Over the past decade, more than 220 people have mentored HERA students in the UK. HERA’s community of volunteers not only provides support to their mentees, but also gain valuable experience in promoting a student’s career.  Mentors report that the experience is valuable for building their own support networks and for their own personal growth.  Over 75 per cent of the mentoring relationships continue beyond the year.

The HERA team is fund raising to continue delivering and testing cutting edge entrepreneurship training and mentoring for UK-based survivors.  HERA’s eventual goal is to raise a £2 million endowment to sustain the programme at Imperial College, which will in turn serve as a laboratory and resource for programmes in other countries, including the US, France, and countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Former HERA student Silvia, believes the project will help her achieve her dream of becoming a lawyer. “I have just obtained my law degree and I’m looking forward to start a Legal Practice course in September 2014″ Silvia said. “The HERA course encouraged me and gave me a kick-start to rebuild my life. I decided to go and chase my childhood dream to be a lawyer.”