Lila Igram was a stay-at-home mother for several years before she decided to start Connecther, global communication and crowdfunding platform that directly works with local women in developing communities.
While career conversations targeted to mothers often mention skills women need to have or how to market themselves, “stay at home moms underestimate their ability to change career paths or use their skills to go out into the workforce,” Lila notes.
In fact, she believes entrepreneurship is ideal for mothers. “I have three kids and each of them is their own mini businesses,” she explains.
One of Connecther’s key tenets is that the organization only invests in companies that are founded by women who are part of the communities their organizations are for. The team believes these women are better able to decide how non-profits should work in their communities, versus traditional Western organizations.
Connecther features various projects that people can donate to, ranging from providing ambulances to serve laborers in Lahore, Pakistan to providing education for child brides through the Rozaria Memorial Trust. One of the organization’s hallmark events is the annual Girls Impact The World Film Festival, which highlights issues women and girls face around the world, including global health challenges, economic independence and ending violence against women.
The Girls Impact The World films not only bring awareness to pressing global issues but in some cases, they have also directly improved the lives of people featured. One feature showcased Asma, a Bangladeshi tea seller. She wanted to go to school but didn’t have the means to. Through the screening of the film, an education fund was started through which Asma and other girls were able to attend school. Another film featured a woman who was a sex worker who took care of children who were born to other sex workers. Through the film festival, enough money was able to be raised so the children could move into an apartment.
“I think growing up Muslim in America had a big impact on me. I was surrounded by super strong women who came from developing countries. But the news here in the U.S. always showed women from my community as oppressed and need to be saved,” Lila said in an interview with Hearts on Fire. “I really felt the need to create a platform for women and girls from the developing world to tell their own stories.”
The Girls Impact The World Film Festival has now partnered with Ian Somerhalder (IS) Foundation as it continues to grow. Wherever Connecther goes, Lila knows that elevating women and girls’ stories, and continuing to work directly with people from those communities, will continue to be central to its success.