After years of a successful law career left Nigerian Temituokpe Esisi frustrated at her country’s stagnant economy, she decided to switch careers to help empower other women by starting her own tailoring and fashion design business, Tuopsy’s Enterprises, that would not only employ women, but also provide them with an education to help them better their own circumstances. Realizing in 2008 that she would need more support in order for the company to thrive, Esisi applied for the Goldman Sachs inaugural 10,000 Women Scholarship—and won. The award was presented by fashion icon Diane Von Furstenberg.
The 10,000 Women Scholarship has the dual purpose of “increasing the number of underserved women receiving a business and management education and improving the quality and capacity of business and management education around the world.” It focuses on building women’s leadership in countries that have developing and emerging economies (e.g., Nigeria, India, Egypt, Rwanda, Brazil) in order to decrease gender inequity and shared economic power among women and men.
Instead of simply putting money into people’s hands, the 10,000 Women Scholarship provides intensive business training to its awardees. The women scholars attend seminars and classes that are adapted to fit the challenging realities of their lives, which may prevent them from participating in a more traditional education program. They are mentored online by worldwide business professionals—such as Chief Operating Officer for the Securities division of Goldman Sachs Michelle Pinggera—who volunteer their time to ensure the program’s success and increase the women’s access to networking opportunities among the global business elite.
“The first couple of weeks in class I realized I had been doing everything wrong,” Esisi told Vital Voices. Still in the midst of her program at the Pan-African University in Lagos, Esisi has already been able to expand Tuopsy’s Enterprises to employ six workers.