After weeks of preparations, the nine finalists for the second ELLE Impact2 Awards, gathered in Paris for the winners ceremony held on 7th April, at Paris City Hall.
ELLE, together with the Comptoir de l’Innovation, are making it their mission to recognise and support female social entrepeneurship worldwide. Last year this initiative was launched in France alone but for its second year, ELLE Impact2 has widened its search for female entrepeneurs to nine countries (Sweden, Canada, the United States, France, India, Italy, South Africa, Belgium and the UK).
The award aims to boost a woman-led enterprise that has awareness for society and female empowerment at the core of its business model. The criteria for the competition searches for start-ups that have tested their products on their consumers and also have the potential for considerable growth. The business model for each initiative, has to demonstrate guaranteed sustainability and also prove that the product is solving a particular social, societal or environmental issue, either on a national or international scale.
After the finalists delivered their pitch to the jury – made up of thirteen judges including the President Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris – the panel deliberated the values of each candidate before coming to their final decision. The winner’s prize was awarded to Thato Kgathlhanye, the South African finalist and founder of Repurpose School Bags ; a for-profit social enterprise that makes and personally distributes, innovatively designed schoolbags for students at disadvantaged schools in Africa.
The schoolbags have several special features including a solar panel that charges during the day and turns into a lamp at night, so children have the ability to study in dim light. The material the bags are of is created by fusing together recycled carrier bags, making them sustainable for the planet and water resistant, so children don’t have to worry about their books getting damp when it rains. The distribution of the bags relys on donations from ‘Giving Partners’ who are then welcomed to handover the bags, personally at a school that they have been matched to.
The ELLE Impact2 for Women Award remains loyal to the ELLE brand and the commitment that is attached to women in society.