Young Australian social entrepreneur Stephanie Woollard began Seven Women at only 22, after meeting seven disabled women operating out of a tin shed in Kathmandu struggling to make a living and enduring harsh discrimination. Since 2006, Seven Women has been working to empower marginalised Nepalese women through equipping them with the skills and know how to thrive.
Eleven years after her first encounter with the seven women that started it all, over 5,000 women have been trained and employed by our fair trade organisation, transforming their lives and their communities. Stephanie was recently one of only 6 worldwide to have her work recognised with a Rotary Responsible Business Award presented at the United Nations, New York.
Seven Women has two core businesses: a cooking school and manufacturing business. We are partnered with Hands-On-Development, who host cultural tours in Nepal bringing visitors of varied skills to participate in our classes, hire our women as local tour guides and provide support through sales in our shop.
Activities foster cross-cultural exchanges and opportunities for visitors to learn about social enterprise, some of the deeper issues in Nepal and gain real, authentic local experiences. We look to engage with tour companies of similar nature to bring customers to experience a range of activities led by marginalized women who have gained skills, self-confidence and incomes through Seven Women.
At our Kathmandu headquarters we offer:
Cooking school: Guests learn traditional cooking techniques whilst supporting the hospitality training of Seven Women.
Craft class: Learn how to create Nepalese crafts and witness the importance of Fair Trade firsthand
Literacy classes: Basic Nepali for travellers taught by local Seven Women
The profits from these activities fund our Seven Women programs in Kathmandu and village areas including:
- Emergency accommodation
- Scholarship fund
- Savings and loans
- Women's training: health, women's rights, gender awareness and literacy
- Skills training and income generation
- Business training
Since our foundation 11 years ago, Seven Women has trained and employed over 5,000 women.
The manufacturing arm continues to train women who are given the choice to continue to work for Seven Women, other companies, or for themselves. The more orders we receive, the more women we are able to train and employ to fulfill orders.
Our cooking school was built to enable the diversification of the women's skills so manufacturing products was not their sole career path. The school offers opportunities to learn hospitality and culinary skills which creates employability in the restaurant and hospitality sector. Seven Women also trains teachers for our cooking classes and encourages all women to have a turn as it develops their confidence, language skills and capabilities in a team environment with foreign guests.
Our village programs empower women in areas of agriculture, small business creation and literacy.
Seven Women is continually expanding and seeking to make its operations in Nepal self-sustainable. Local income streams are continually developed at our headquarters, to cover a large part of our operating costs. The cooking school, fair-trade craft classes and basic Nepali lessons for travellers generate revenue. The shop at the Seven Women centre where visitors purchase and take home beautiful handmade items also raises important funds. All income from these activities funds Seven Women’s main programs for marginalised women in both our Kathmandu centre and our work in remote villages.
Our approach has always been ‘nothing for free’ which honours the women’s ability to learn, earn and provide for themselves and their families earning fair trade wages. >
Meanwhile, products made by the Nepalese women are distributed by Seven Women Australia volunteers to over 120 shops around Australia and various international buyers.
Philanthropists and businesses such as Intrepid, Cooper Investors and Wilderness Wear also provide generous sponsorship towards our work.
Buy a Product: Buying a product creates increased demand, which enables us to employ more marginalised women in Nepal. Your buying choices make a huge difference. Buy fair trade.
Visit us in Nepal: If you or someone you know is visiting Nepal, please drop us a line and we can arrange a tour for you of our centre. We have a range of activities such as cooking classes, basic Nepali for travellers and craft classes. Alternatively, join Hands of Development’s next tour to Nepal with applications now open – click here to inquire
Donate: We are always grateful of donations, which enable us to continue to grow the number of women included in our important work.
Steph studied a Bachelor of International Development and completed a Masters in Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Sweden. Steph is an award winning Australian social entrepreneur known for Founding enterprises with social impact. Steph created aid organisation Seven Women, her tour company, Hands on Development and the Kathmandu Cooking School, which, together have impacted the lives of over 5000 marginalised women. Stephanie believes business is a strong force for good and inspires people to adopt responsible business practices as the demand for ethical production booms.
Anita is no stranger to the plight of women in Nepal. Being one of 6 girls in her family, she has seen it all. Anita left home when she was 14 years old and has has experience in managing a boutique Hotel before taking on the role at Seven Women. Anita has a passion for cooking and loves welcoming visitors to our centre to participate in our classes and works part time as a guide at Hands On Development Tours. Anita is passionate about the empowerment of women through literacy, skills training and income generation.
Padam Kumar Shrestha is our fantastic logistics manager and treasurer who has studies sociology and is passionate about creating change. Padam has been working for Seven Women for 10 years now. You might meet Padam when visiting our centre in Nepal. He is a talented cook, has a background in business and a very well known volleyball player who used to play for the National Team.