Ellen Tacoma & Maria van der Heijden

Founders Women on Wings

A Dream came True

'In India, 90% of the 550 million women are not earning an income', Ellen Tacoma says. 'Stimulating the economic independence of women there helps the development of their families and villages. It makes the education of their children possible. And education makes the difference.'

Tacoma, together with Maria van der Heijden, two management professionals with twenty years of experience in the corporate sector, set themselves a challenging target in 2007; create 1 million jobs for women in rural India. Following an exchange program to India, they founded Women on Wings, a non-profit providing business consultancy to Indian social entrepreneurs who create employment for women in textile, food & agribusiness or forestry.

By now a team of 60 business professionals share their time and skills pro bono. They have over 15 years of experience in marketing, finance, product development, production, retail, food and supply chain management. Women on Wings unlocks the growth potential of the social enterprises that get support. With the rewarding effect to date, 196,000 jobs have been co-created for women in rural India and thanks to these paid jobs 196,000 rural families have two meals per day and over 590,000 children can go to (a better) school.

Their work for Women on Wings means that Tacoma and Van der Heijden make less money than previously. And they are happy with that. Van der Heijden: 'our motive is to do more with our expertise instead of just earning more money and living a life even more comfortable. Working with those women is inspiration, not outweighed by a new pair of boots.'

Women, Philanthropy, Non-Profit, Netherlands PINC.17