Following on from our Q&A last year with Young Australian of the Year nominee Madeline Price, we’re kicking off a new Awesome Women Interview series. I’m pretty excited to be bringing you the inspiring stories, humble lessons learned and excellent advice from a bunch of incredible ladies who are out there changing the world.
So today we’re featuring the hugely accomplished Celia Boyd – she has a pretty impressive list of achievements in the not-for-profit and social enterprise sectors. Holding a Masters of Community and International Development from Deakin University, Celia has worked for NGOs like the Oaktree Foundation and World Youth International, and has held a coveted place as a Young Social Pioneer with the Foundation of Young Australians. In 2014 Celia co-founded the social enterprise SHE Investments – a start-up focused on empowering women in Cambodia through small business and training and development. She’s definitely a woman to watch.
What made you want to start up SHE Investments?
I had been working in the field of international and community development for a few years, and my partner James had started becoming really interested in business, after he started his own small business with a partner in 2012. He wanted to learn more about impact investing, and whether this was used as a tool for social and economic change in developing countries, and he gradually convinced me that it was a pretty cool idea too. I am really passionate about gender equality and feminism, and believe that to make the deepest impact possible, investment needs to be made into women.
After spending a lot of time researching, we discovered that yes, impact investing was happening in South East Asia, but these investments were typically quite large, and there wasn’t a lot happening at the SME level. We learned that there were little or no support structures in place for women entrepreneurs to start or scale their businesses to become profitable and sustainable SMEs, and so we realised that we could fill a gap, in a place where there was a lot of need but also a lot of opportunity. So that’s how SHE was born.
I think ultimately the reason that we started SHE was because it excited both of us and we became really passionate about it – so passionate that we decided it was worth trying, worth leaving our home for, worth selling a business (as well as everything else we own!) for, and really committing ourselves to. When you’re that excited and passionate about something you need to see it through!
What does gender equality mean to you?
To me it means that people of all genders, whether they identify as male, female, transgender, or other, are considered equal within all aspects of society – economic, social, civil, political… everything. That all people have access to the same rights and opportunities, regardless of their gender.
Any advice for women wanting to start up their own project or business?
Back yourself, and other people will back you. I don’t have the best self confidence, and I’m constantly working on it, but if you back yourself – even if you’re just faking it ’till you make it (which I do all the time) – then you’ll be surprised by how many people will want to back you too.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
So many people! My parents and my sisters, and my partner James, who has risked a lot to follow what he is passionate about and believes in. My amazing feminist friends, Jess and Elyse, among others. Inspirational, powerful and passionate women such as Jan Owen, everyone I’ve met through the Young Social Pioneers program (a Foundation for Young Australians initiative), and the School for Social Entrepreneurs. And obviously Beyonce.
Do have some ‘words with heart’ to leave us with?
If something excites and motivates you beyond anything else, then you have to follow it. You don’t have to want to “change the world”, you just need to do what makes you feel excited about life.
Where can we go to find out more about SHE Investments?
Our crowdfunding campaign page! www.startsomegood.com/
And our website: www.sheinvestments.com