Impact Inspire


By Miracle Nwankwo

Every philanthropist has a unique and inspiring tale about their journey in philanthropy, and often times their acts and willingness to give to the society is inspired by the struggles of their past. However, it is one thing to be shown kindness and it is another thing to be willing to return the favor.

This episode of Impact Inspire brings the spectacular story of a rare gem, someone whose heart yearns daily with a desire to reciprocate an act of kindness that was shown her in a better form.

She is an African woman, born in the midst of excruciating poverty in a little village in Wedza District of rural Zimbabwe.

Her name is Fiona Mavhinga, the founding partner of CAMA a foundation whose goal is to help girls and young women to access education, facilitating their transition into higher education and employment, and creating opportunities to develop their leadership and activism.

Fiona had her growing up days very tough; as the first child of the family she was very keen on education and everyone around her saw her passion.

Her very supportive family sent her to live with her grandmother when she was old enough to go to school, so that the distance to school could become shorter since her grandmother lived closer to the school than they did. 

Reducing the distance to school was not the only problem that Fiona and her family had to deal with; they were also faced with financial problems. Despite all their efforts, there were days when the family went hungry because of Fiona’s fees, yet on many occasions, she was sent home from school for not paying her fees. Nevertheless, with the hope of a brighter future, the family struggled to meet Fiona’s school-going costs. While staying with her grandmother, they woke up at 4am every morning, and worked every weekend, selling vegetables at the market, trying to earn enough money to make ends meet.

Fiona’s mother, on the other hand was also committed to supporting her daughter’s education. She was a trader who traded dried fish for maize, and then sells the maize to provide for Fiona’s school fees. 

The distance between Fiona’s grandmother’s house to the school was 5km, apart from the days that her cousins and uncle would carry Fiona part of the way to school, she walked every day to school to receive a full day of lessons, after which she returns home studying late into the night next to a paraffin lamp, having spent her evenings working on the vegetable plot that their livelihood was dependent on. 

Fiona was not the only girl in her community that really wanted go to school, but due to the poverty that consumed most rural areas in Zimbabwe many of her friends in the rural village lost their dreams to poverty, and their lives have become so drastically different from that of Fiona who was lucky enough to pull through with the support and determination of her family.

Having concluded her secondary school amidst the intense heat of lack and want, she was then faced with the challenge to further her education. She had written her final exams and obtained the best results both in her school, and her entire province. For the cause of her excellence, she was offered an admission into the Zimbabwe university.  

The possibility of going to the university was not in view and Fiona was too stubborn to give up. She thought of many possible solutions and a way out but none of the options involved letting go of her dreams. In the end, like the old saying “when there is a will, there is a way”, a perfect help came to her at the very time she needed it.

The story of her life got better when Camfed stepped in to support her, it was a dream come through for Fiona who cried tears of joy and relief.

Camfed is an international non-profit organization tackling poverty and inequality by supporting marginalized girls to go to school and succeed, and empowering young women to step up as leaders of change.

With the help of Camfed, Fiona went to the University to study Law and graduated. After her graduation she worked as a lawyer for three years and later went on to work with the Bank of Zimbabwe.

However, that was not her destination as she had a dream and a purpose to drive into fulfilment. She wanted to return this same act of goodwill and together with the support of Camfed and other beneficiaries of the NGO (the first 400 young women whose education Camfed had supported), Fiona formed the Camfed Association, CAMA.

CAMA is a powerful Pan-African network with a unique movement of rural philanthropists whose major focus is to help the adolescent girl with access to education.

In 1998 when they started out, the 400 former Camfed-supported students came together to multiply the impact of donor funds by offering training, technology, business loans, and mentoring support to young women at the critical time when they leave secondary school.

Currently, the Group has a target to grow to more than 130,000 by 2019. Also in 2014, they set a target in partnership with their parent organisation Camfed, to support one million adolescent girls to go to secondary school within just five years. After two years, at the end of 2016, they had passed the halfway mark.

In 2017, it reached the 100,000 mark. Many women and girls are now beneficiaries of the CAMA Network and Fiona is still optimistic. She looks forward to a brighter future with CAMA meeting the educational needs of billions of women and girls in Africa. And she also hopes that with these impacts, these beneficiaries can now take up top positions in the societies and help change the world.

The group has also established its presence in other African countries like Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi with its executive representative resident in those countries.

Fiona has been celebrated on different platforms and has also received awards for her efforts including Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

The rapidly growing Latinas living in poverty has stirred the rise of devout philanthropist in Latin America including Eva Longoria. Eva is an American actress, producer, director, activist, and businesswoman who founded the Eva Longoria Foundation in 2012 to help Latinas build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship. By providing Latinas with the resources to succeed in school and business, we can help empower the Latino community.

Eva Longoria was born 1975 in Corpus Christi. She was a beauty pageant contestant in her youth and attended Texas A&M. Longoria got her first break in show business with a regular role on The Young and the Restless. Her breakthrough role came in 2004 on the hit television series Desperate Housewives.

The foundation’s programs focus on helping Latinas excel in school and attend college, and on helping Latina entrepreneurs with career training, mentorship, capital, and opportunity. 

The foundation supports parental engagement and offers a nine-week course to help parents with issues like homework and college applications. The Foundation partners with the Parent Institute for Quality Education to train parents in low-income, predominantly Latino areas. In 2015, the foundation expanded this program to Mexico City.

The foundation’s Latina entrepreneurship program works with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to provide microloans and business training to low-income, Latina entrepreneurs. The Foundation has provided loans to more than 150 Latina business owners through partnerships with Accion Texas and Accion Diego.

The Eva Longoria Foundation supports STEM education and has helped more than 1,100 Latinas grow their STEM skills through extracurricular programming in Los Angeles and San Antonio, Texas. The foundation currently partners with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio to provide an “after-school program that strengthens student knowledge of STEM skills like coding and robotics as well as their awareness of STEM education and career paths.”

Since 2014, the Foundation has partnered with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Corpus Christi to run a mentorship program that has taught more than 300 Latinas about leadership and healthy living and exposes them to successful Latina mentors. The foundation expanded its Latina mentorship network to Los Angeles in partnership with Step Up and Bank of America. 

Longoria co-founded Eva’s Heroes, a San Antonio nonprofit that benefits developmentally disabled children, and serves as a spokesperson for Padres Contra el Cancer, an organization supporting Latino families who have children with cancer.

She sits on the boards of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) and LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes. She has supported United Farm Workers and the Dolores Huerta Foundation, among other organizations.

Apart from her foundation, Longoria may have other avenues of grant making, and some important grants may be missing from this rundown. Since 2012, the Eva Longoria Foundation has been committed to its mission towards the Latinas.


Alice Eduardo is a firm believer of being a blessing to others. She once said, “if I can save a soul and make people happy, I feel super happy.” Alice Eduardo is not all glitz and glamour although she epitomizes these at every turn, however she also devotes her time to her advocacies.

Alice Eduardo feels that her success is God-given, so she shares its fruits to the people who need help the most. An extraordinary person with an exceptional opportunity, she said, “Every day, I count my blessings, and I try to make my blessings count.”

Alice Eduardo has several passion projects, one of the most important of which is the 320 sqm. pediatric ward at the Philippine General Hospital. This has been a passion project because her father, Andres, suffered from cancer as well.

Called the Department of Pediatrics-Hematology-Oncology Isolation Ward, it caters to the young cancer patients. Building hope for these patients is a must, and this is her goal.

The ward is mainly for children with cancer from poor and disadvantaged families – the poorest of the poor. These people cannot afford expensive medicines and treatments.

She saw the situation of the kids by herself when visiting the illness-stricken child of one of her employees in PGH. Right there and then, she told herself, “Charity cannot wait.” Compassion is the answer.

Paying it forward, many are inspired by her donations in PGH, spawning several other donations. Nevertheless, she knows that this is not enough. Another equally important need is the relatives’ dormitory because some of the patients’ are from outside Metro Manila.

Alice Eduardo’s hometown is Jaen, Nueva Ecija. And coming from a Catholic family, she knows the importance of valuing places of worship. Building the church is another passion project she dubbed as the “monument of thanksgiving.”

Alice Eduardo is one of GoNegosyo’s stalwart partners. GoNegosyo is a program under the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship. Local entrepreneurs are the target of the program.

She speaks at GoNegosyo-sponsored summits and conferences, sharing her entrepreneurial journey with the aspiring Filipinas. She also conducts mentoring sessions.

Alice Eduardo is also a prime mover for Habitat for Humanity since 2011 (PhP10M). She has also donated an aggregate amount of Php5M to Marawi survivors.

Her other philanthropic activities include;

Building 100 homes for Yolanda victims (PhP10M)

Building San Agustin Parish with parish hall in Jaen, Nueva Ecija (PhP80M)

Building two structures at Tuloy Foundation for its classrooms and theater (PhP20M)

What’s good about this construction magnate is she doesn’t trumpet her charities.

The impact inspire category for this week centers on the philanthropic strides of an amazon in Arab who believes that “When you change women’s conditions and empower them, you change the whole family”.

Those words were written by Muna AbuSulayman, a Saudi Arabian business woman and activist. Muna was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the 16th of May 1973. She studied at the King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia, International Islamic University Malaysia and George Mason University. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in English literature from George Mason University. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in Arab American literature from King Saud University.

She is a woman of substance whose pursuit for women’s empowerment has cost her both time and money. Muna began her career in 1997 as an English Department Lecturer at King Saud University, she moved on to the media world as a co-host of Kalam Nawaem on MBC which she founded in early 2000s. Kalam Nawaem is a social program which is considered to have millions of viewership and is one of the most watched social programs by Arabs worldwide. In 2004, Muna joined Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s Kingdom Holdings company as the Executive manager of Strategic Studies and Research Initiatives. Prior to her appointment, she had no experience in HR and administration which prompted her to learn on the job and within six months she perfected her job description. However, much more experiences came alongside working closely with His Royal Highness, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal himself. 

Following her dedicated service to the organization, in 2006 she became the Secretary General and Executive Director of Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, a position that was offered to her by the Prince. The foundation which is the philanthropic arm of the Kingdom Holding company, is focused on philanthropic activities, projects, and donations that cuts across the globe. As head of the foundation, Muna is responsible for developing and implementing the foundation’s mission, vision, and operations for strategic philanthropy and humanitarian assistance. 

Muna’s passion for the girl child and the entire women race is inspiring, she expresses this passion in many ways including her voice. In an interview with the Saudi Gazette she said, “I want girls to see that there is almost no limitation to where they can go. The most important thing they can do is to work to be content, happy, married and to have children.” those words explains her strong support for women empowerment in the world and especially in Saudi Arabia.

Muna also believes that based on the number of years spent, skills acquired and experiences gained while raising a child, mothers should be appointed to higher position and paid heavily because those experiences are equivalent to any other job experience that attract good pay and the skills are essential to any organizational growth.

Asides, working for the Alwaleed Bin Talal, Muna has also been appointed to other international positions and also recognized on international platforms as a result of her quality contributions to the growth and development in various aspects. In 2004, she was named a Young Leader by the World Economic Forum which gives her the opportunity to speak on issues related to challenges facing the youth around the world. In 2007, the United Nations Development Program named Muna the first woman from Saudi Arabia to be appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador. Being a goodwill ambassador Muna championed humanitarian causes including the Tetanus Shot Campaign in 2011 for Yemen. In 2007, the Middle East Excellence Awards Institute presented her the Achievements in Regional and International Relations Award. In 2009, she was named one of the most influential Muslims in the world.

Muna is a public figure who appears constantly on the news or as a panelist on platforms like; the Davos World Economic Forum, Jeddah Economic Forum, C-100 of the World Economic Forum, Brookings Institution Conferences and other venues. She tries as much as possible to reach out to different audiences in various spheres of life for the sole purpose of touching their lives.

Muna is also a member of Soliya, an organization devoted to improving communications between East and West through university education. She serves in the Advisory Board of Meeda, the premier content translation website service in the world for Arabic. Since 2004, she has also served as a volunteer director for the Friends of Saudi Arabia Association and remains a member of the Saudi Media Association.

Beyond her societal impact, Muna is a dedicated mother to two children whom she shares custody with her former husband.

As a unique publication dedicated to telling the stories of the giant strides of women in emerging nations of Africa, South America, Middle East and Asia; we love to potray stories like Muna AbuSulayman in order to create a deeper awareness and appreciation of women leaders in all sphere of life and also inspire the younger generation with the hope for a better future.

Philanthropy in Philippine is taken as important as education, health, infrastructure or any other basic need that is important to man. A striking aspect about philanthropy and the Filipinos is that the women in Philippine are mostly given to philanthropy than any demographic. When discussions on Philippine’s women and philanthropy comes up, the story of Heart Evangelista ruminates the mind.

Heart was born on February 14, 1985 in Manila, Philippines as Love Marie Payawal Ongpauco-Escudero. She is the daughter of Reynaldo Evangelista Ongpauco, a restaurant magnate who belongs to a Chinese-Filipino clan, and Maria Cecilia del Gallego Payawal, whose family is from the Bicol province of Camarines Sur. She is the youngest child of 5 children, four sisters and one brother. The family moved to San Francisco, California during Heart’s early teens, there she studied at Aubudon School in California. However, before Heart crossed her teens she moved back with her family to Philippines and later attended Collegio San Agustin-Makati in the Philippines. 

Since her childhood, Heart has always wanted to become an actress, so even as a child she was keen on every opportunity she found to explore her passion. At first, her mother did not want her to venture into the showbiz industry at an early age but Heart signed up with ABS CBN Talent Center and became part of Star Circle Batch 9, and this was the beginning of her career which began at the age of 13. She later signed with agency Star Magic and she changed her name to Heart Evangelista. She was transferred to ABS-CBN’s Distance Learning Center immediately she signed into the industry and that was how she kick started her journey into showbiz as a commercial model and actress. She was very good at her job and she starred in so many movies and shows, including the G-mik show which helped her gain more popularity and exposure in the industry.

Heart is now known as a Filipina actress, TV host, visual media artist, philanthropist, and socialite. Through her various endeavors she has been able to help and advocate for the underprivileged.

Heart started her journey in philanthropy in 2005, when she established her charity organization called Heart Can, which was created to help children with respiratory diseases. The foundation has been consistent in delivering its mandate since its inception. This share act of love and kindness has helped thousands of children with special needs. She is also a spokesperson for PAWS or (Philippine Animal Welfare Society), launching various campaigns for the organization such as the Have a Heart for Aspins campaign. Heart has also been supporting the Balikatan Thalassemia for children with rare diseases, Corridor of Hope for children with cancer and the Cerebral Palsy Association of Sorsogon where her husband hails from.

She is also an LGBT icon and a recipient of Lagablab Network’s Equality Champion Award in the Philippines, being a strong supporter for the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill, which provides protections on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. 

On February 15, 2015, Heart married Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who was born and raised in Bicol province of Sorsogon. She met her husband through her mentor, the late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, a close friend of her mother. The couple wed in a private ceremony at the Balesin Island Club in the Philippines. 

Some Awards won by Heart Evangelista

2009 My Myx Awards, Favorite Guest Appearance in a Music Video for Bahay Kubo

2009 Metro Manila Film Festival, Best Supporting Actress for Mano Po 6: A Mother’s Love

2009 FAMAS Awards, Best Actress for Ay, Ayeng

2007 PMPC Star Awards, for Movies, Female Face of the Night

2004 FAMAS Awards, German Moreno Youth Achievement Award

2004 Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Princess of RP Movies

2003 Awit Awards, Best Performance by a New Female Artist (Love Has Come My Way)

2003 Asia Pacific Excellence & Handog Kay Ina Awards, Youth Achiever for Arts & Entertainment

2003 Ivan Entertainment Productions: Circle of 10 Modeling Agency, Celebrity Endorser of the Year

2003 Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Most Popular Love Team of RP Movies (with John Prats)

2003 Himig Handog Awards, Album Platinum Award

2002 Himig Handog Awards, Listener’s Choice Award (Love Has Come My Way)

We all agree that the attitude of giving stems from a burning desire to meet a need or a determination to impact lives especially when it driven by past struggles and failures. Philanthropy by Merriam-Webster, is a goodwill to fellow members of the human race especially, an active effort to promote human welfare. In our world today, there are billions of philanthropists scattered all over the world in pursuit of a particular goal, which is; making the world a better place for the entire human race. Amongst these numerous people is Noëlla Coursaris, the Congolese rural diamond. 

Noëlla was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to a Cypriot father and a Congolese mother. Her father died when she was only five, leaving her and her mother alone. After her father passed on, Noëlla’s mother, being saddled with responsibilities and with no education or financial resources, faced difficulty in catering for her little girl all by herself. So Noëlla was sent to Europe to live with her relatives who lived in Belgium. Growing up with her relatives was not as comfortable as a bed of roses, which made childhood for Noëlla’s somewhat difficult. She had little or no contact with her mother. 

However, amidst this unpleasant situation, Noëlla was given the privilege of gaining education which she pursued with so much zeal and determination. She excelled academically because according Noëlla, “When you have nothing, you know that if you fall there’s no one to pick you up. So you have to stand.” “I resolved very early that I would study and work and be independent.” 

Noëlla continued to excel academically and she graduated with a degree in business management in her early 20’s. After 13 years of being away from Congo, she returned to her homeland to see her mother. On returning to Congo, Noëlla was shocked on seeing the deteriorating status of many girls whose stories could have been hers if she had remained back in Congo. She became burdened with the desire to help bring these girls the opportunity to learn and become empowered to demand the best for their lives. Although she could do nothing at the time, she promised herself that she would one day make a difference and put smiles on their hopeless faces that she saw back at home.

Like the old saying that says “where there is a wheel there is way” Noëlla’s will attracted a solution that birth the fulfillment of her dreams. 

Soon after Noëlla visited Congo, her friend signed her up for a competition to become a model and she was chosen to appear in a campaign for Agent Provocateur. Through modeling, Noëlla was constantly on the media spotlight, she was starred in prestigious fashion magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair and before long she was known on the global stage. She also began to travel around the world and as she traveled the world, her exposure brought ideas and best ways to which she can lend a helping to the human race in her own way. 

After so much thought and plans, in 2007, Noëlla formed Malaika, a nonprofit grassroots organization that empowers Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programs. Through Malaika, Noëlla has been able to touch the world with her kindness and impacted on lives. She has helped in the pursuit of gender equality and the global pursuit of education for the girl-child.

The Malaika project which is been offered completely free of charge includes; a school for 280 girls, a Community Center built in partnership with FIFA, which provides education, health and sports programming to about 7,000 youths and adults annually, the construction of nine wells that provides clean and portable water to over 18,000 people, and other plans which are still in view. 

Noëlla has been totally engaged in the empowerment of girl-child, she is known as an advocate for peace, who has spoken on various international gatherings including the 2018 World Economic Forum at Davos, UNICEF and the UK Parliament where she appeared on several occasions alongside President Clinton on Clinton Global Initiative panels. 

Through Malaika, she has seen an entire village been transformed due to the power of education of girls and women. This further confirms the popular quote by Brigham Young which states that, “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation. Also according to Noëlla, “an educated woman is more likely to give back to her community, to inspire others to go to school, and to cultivate a sense of curiosity, ambition, and independence among her peers and the next generation.” This is very true because she exemplifies those words in her tireless pursuit of bringing help to the human race.

Beyond the village of Kalebuka, Noëlla has touched the nation of DRC and the continent of Africa in order to engage with surrounding communities and invite them to be a part of her educational revolution. She remains one of the leading voices in education for girls in Africa and an ambassador for the Global Fund set up by Bill and Melinda Gates to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. On these accounts, she has been recognized and interviewed about her philanthropic work on different platforms and global news networks such as CNN and the BBC. She has given a TED talk and presented before top executives from multinationals like SAP and T-Systems. 

She was named one of ELLE’s incredible women shaping Africa and one of the most powerful women in philanthropy by Lifestyles. Recently, Noëlla was featured in an interview in The Times which went on to appear in the Week. 

As regards her personal life, Noëlla is married to her husband James Masters and they have been blessed with both a boy and girl. As a mother it is often said that managing a home and pursuing a career can be very difficult but for Noëlla being a mother has helped shaped her narrative and drive as she continues to impact on and inspire her world for change.

By Miracle Nwankwo

“The importance of women being able to work as well as raise children left an indelible impression on me”

According to The Economist, “women make up only a small percentage of top philanthropists in Asia, but their influence is disproportionately large as they transform the nature of philanthropy itself”. Recounting the activities of businesswomen in Asia, philanthropy is a common phenomenon. Asia’s women are natural given to philanthropy and in many cases most of the businesswomen in Asia started their journey in business with the mind-set of impacting their society and helping the poor.

The impact inspire category of Amazons Watch Magazine is a platform that mirrors the impact and philanthropic activities of women in developing nations while setting examples and inspiring others to get involved. In the same vein, we bring you the story of Yoshiko Shinohara, Japan’s first self-made woman billionaire who began her journey as a business woman in order to provide better jobs for women in Japan.

Shinohara was born in 1934, to a school headmaster and a midwife. Growing up during the World War II, Shinohara lost her father when she was eight and was raised by her single mother, who never remarried. After high school she got married at the age of twenty but left the marriage shortly after the wedding. She told Harvard Business Review in 2009 that soon after her wedding, she realized that she would rather not be married, and that her husband was not the right person for her. So she decided she had better quit the marriage as soon as possible.

Shinohara was just a high school holder when she left her marriage, she thought about what she was going to do with her life. She was not satisfied with the kind of jobs that most women in Japan were engaged in at the time, understanding that she could do more she decided to leave for England. On getting to England she was inspired on seeing women working as temps and this was different from the work system in Japan. She worked as a secretary in England and also moved to Australia working as a secretary too.

In 1973, she was back to Japan with a high school degree and secretarial experience from two different continents, but again Shinohara was still unsatisfied with the job prospects in Japan. But this time was different, having experienced the temping system in England and Australia, she decided to introduce the system in Japan by starting her own firm, Temp Holdings.

When Shinohara started her company, she had not deliberately considered the challenges and oppositions that she might face from the society and authorities in Japan because at the time, Japan was running the lifetime employment work policy and the law bans private companies from engaging the temp system. She was often summoned by the Japanese Ministry of Labor for query but Shinohara was not ready to give up on her company or the temping system.

Temp Holdings started as an all women Japanese temporary staff company, in Shinohara’s small apartment in Tokyo. She told Forbes Asia that “Education and women working always were in the back of my mind,” “The importance of women being able to work as well as raise children left an indelible impression.”

It was difficult for the company to pull through without disturbance from the authorities plus the slow pace of the business. At some point Shinohara told Forbes Asia that she had to teach English language at night to make ends meet. After a while the law was changed, accommodating the temp into Japan work system.

Temp Holdings moved into its first office space after five years, however, the company was still plagued with growth in terms of sales, so Shinohara taught of employing male staff into the system but when she made the suggestion to the managers refused.

In those days, temp companies where seen as an all women company because only women were tempstaff in the early days.

Fortunately, one of the branches employed a male staff and there was a boom in sales growth. It then dawned on Shinohara that the right mix of men and women was the trigger she needed to move Temp Holdings forward. She took off the company’s look of all women tempstaff and began employing male temps, this launched Temp Holdings at the forefront of Japanese business scene and in 2008, it was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

She continued to thrive at the business scene of Japanese until 2016 when she finally retired to concentrate on her philanthropic work after donating USD140mil worth of her company’s stock to fund scholarships for students studying to become nurses, social worker or day-care staff, under the Yoshiko Shinohara Memorial Foundation.

Miracle Nwankwo