As part of its DO GOOD programme, The Bicester Collection launched its Unlock Her Future Prize, an annual initiative to identify and empower women first-time founder social-impact entrepreneurs from different regions of the world.
The inaugural 2023 edition will launch in the MENA region and roll out to a different geographical region each year.
“We’re hoping that over time, there will be an alumni of these powerful women entrepreneurs helping each other from Africa to the Middle East to Europe and the rest of the world,” Desiree Bollier, Chair and Global Chief Merchant for The Bicester Collection, tells TTN
on the side lines of WTTC Summit at Saudi Arabia where the prize was launched.
“It’s part of our DNA to be diverse and inclusive. It’s part of how we perceive leadership. It’s about a vision we have for the future. It’s not about the industry”
– Desiree Bollier
“Covid-19 hit the female [kind] quite dramatically. The great resignation impacted lot more women than we thought it would. Women were expected to resign, take care of the kids, go back home to the cooking, and that gave way to domestic abuse, and the unprecedented number of calls for help that Google was citing. Putting all this together, we realised that we definitely needed to continue to support women and have them engage as women entrepreneurs.”
The Unlock Her Future Prize will support three extraordinary women social entrepreneurs, providing the financial, social and human capital support to empower them to develop their business skills and launch their start-up ventures and drive sustainable positive social, environmental and economic impact within their local region for generations to come.
Each of the three winners will receive a business grant of up to $100,000.
“Our mission is to generate authentic and meaningful, scalable social progress in different regions of the world through our inspirational partners, and with a focus on unlocking the potential of women wherever they are born,” explains The Bicester Collection’s Chief Culture Officer, Chantal Khoueiry. “We’re very proud to be launching the Unlock Her Future Prize. We believe in a world in which every woman has the opportunity to achieve her full potential, to become an extraordinary change agent and a role model for future generations.”
Desiree Bollier, tells says, “Our villages have vetted many charities and chosen ones that are the closest to their hearts, linked to either a country or a global charity. We support nine charities, the common thread being the cause of protecting women and children. Chantal came up with this idea of supporting women entrepreneurs regardless of their age, regardless of their industry.”
How does all this tie in with The Bicester Village’s retail and lifestyle offering?
“Through the culture, of course,” says Bollier. “It’s part of our DNA to be diverse and inclusive. It’s part of how we perceive leadership. It’s about a vision we have for the future.
“It’s not about the industry.”
The Unlock Her Future Prize is open to women from the MENA region who are first-time founders of any age with an inspiring not-for-profit business idea that aims to deliver a positive and sustainable impact on society, as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Presenting partners include Ashoka Arab World, who, since 2003, has pioneered social entrepreneurship, identifying world-leading social entrepreneurs and paving the way for a flourishing social entrepreneurship sector across the Arab region and as Academic Partner, the world renown faculty, New York University Abu Dhabi.
"Women social entrepreneurs in the MENA region can and do have an impact in every field yet are still underfunded and under-recognised. The Unlock Her Future Prize is a transformative opportunity for the region's leading women social entrepreneurs to access not only funding but also mentorship, technical support, a global network of allies, and global exposure." Dr Iman Bibars, Regional Director of Ashoka Arab World, Founder of the Women's Initiative for Social Entrepreneurship, and Vice President of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public.
A selection committee of experienced international business professionals and social impact experts, together with an assembly of judges comprising high-profile women from the MENA region, will review applications. Eight finalists will be selected and invited to pitch their ideas to the judges in person in London, with three winners announced on International Women's Day 2023.
The Bicester Collection promotes the empowerment of women through every facet of its organisation; 66 per cent of its employees are women, and 52 per cent hold management positions with equal representation at board level.
The Bicester Collection's DO GOOD programme drives women's progress in several ways; through its enduring charity partnerships that empower women locally and globally and through its advocacy work, influencing global organisations and rallying policymakers and business leaders to bring gender equality to the front of the agenda.
The launch of its innovative proprietary platform Unlock Her Future in 2021 represents the business' continued commitment to embed its mission into regions and communities beyond the physical footprint of its 11 flagship shopping destinations in Western Europe, China and soon America.