Foundation 500 Women Entrepreneurs Exemplify Undeterred Habits

We think you’ll find this recently published 500 Foundation global survey of Women Entrepreneurs breathtaking, fascinating, and inspiring! We certainly did.

500 Foundation shares the success of women entrepreneurs in emerging economies around the world, and was created by the H&M Foundation and CARE International.

Several of these entrepreneurs run not just one business, but several businesses. They have accomplished what many women all over the world have. Against difficult odds, they’ve managed to see opportunity where others see limitations. They are undeterred!

500 Foundation profiled entrepreneurs come from a diverse range of countries, including Sri Lanka, Jordan, Ivory Coast, Peru, Indonesia, Zambia, Nepal, the Philippines, and Sierra Leone. They work in a wide range of industries including: healthcare innovation, food production and preservation, internet and technology, textiles, and even motor vehicle repair and rentals.

In addition to the usual entrepreneurial challenges of accessing capital and investors, many of these women entrepreneurs also had to deal with a lack of community support. In spite of these obstacles, they are not only succeeding, but also creating jobs for women through their socially-focused enterprises. They provide everything from steady employment to education for employees and their children and greater access to healthcare and nutrition.

We couldn’t help but notice many examples of the women entrepreneurs demonstrating the six success habits of women in emerging economies. Here are a few that caught our eye:

Being Undeterred

A survivor and refugee of the Sri Lankan Civil Conflict, Elankumaran Selvmalar moved back to Sri Lanka from Canada for good in 2009 and began working in a factory making spicy snacks. After her husband left her, she was forced to find a way to provide for her two children. Turning these setbacks into opportunity she began producing her own line of spicy snacks. She now employs 7 other women, all of whom have been abandoned by their husbands or widowed, and has introducing health and insurance plans for them.


Growing up with 42 siblings Philomene Tia of Ivory Coast had to focus on the long term. She could have given up when she lost everything during the civil war. But, she started over by leveraging her previous experience. She got a loan that made it possible to re-start her businesses selling fish and breeding cattle. She saved my money, and invested in two mini buses to start a taxi service which grew into the first bus transportation company in West Ivory Coast. Today, she operates about 90 buses and is still looking for ways to sharpen her focus on the work she’s best at.


When Husriana felt she was stalling, not reaching the potential she imagined for herself, she pivoted from her career in Education and started her own company. She saw potential within the meal-production industry and started a healthy food company: Uncle Ping’s Meatballs. a product made with no artificial preservatives that focuses on traditional spices. Part of Husriana’s business plan is to keep job opportunities growing in her native Indonesia so that more women like her have opportunities.


Kefah Ibrahim Ghannam of Jordan found her own career sweet spot by leading others into theirs. In addition to her food production company she also operates her own foundation. There, she works to training women’s savings groups and organizing groups to apply for and manage small loans that support their business plans. She recognized how her experiences could help guide other women especially young women to start their own enterprises.

Meet more of these women business leaders in emerging economies at Foundation 500.

Charlotte Cline-Smith

PR & Communications Manager

Cross-cultural consultant. ESL Professional. Writer. Editor. Working to share stories and grow together across cultures and communities.