Yann Borgstedt’s Speech, Womanity Gala 2016

“We want to push the boundaries in the field of women’s empowerment”

Good evening everyone! Thank you all for being here tonight!

I’m Yann Borgstedt, the founder of The Womanity Foundation and also as many of you know a professional beggar.

But lets go back to the why you are here:

Since 2005, Womanity and its partners have helped empower over 4 million girls, women and their families and reached millions of listeners through its media for women work.

As an entrepreneur, I believe in measuring results and fostering collaborations. Doing good is not enough. What I want is that the dollar we spend is spent in the most efficient way possible, with the highest impact for our beneficiaries.

At Womanity, we want to push the boundaries in the field of women’s empowerment. Our philosophy is to look for innovative and effective ideas that can be scaled and replicated. That’s why we launched the first commercial radio run by women in the Middle East. That’s why we help social entrepreneurs increase their impact in India and Brazil or have launched a programme to replicate successful innovations in the prevention of violence against women.

Why are we focusing on women? Because the needs are great, and because investing in women and girls is beneficial to the whole society.

One of the most terrible statistics to highlight why we still have a huge issue is that every 10 minutes an adolescent girl somewhere in the world dies as a result of violence.

Shockingly, 70 % of the poor and two out of three of the world’s illiterate adults are women.

But the good news is that investing in women has been demonstrated to yield one of the highest returns. If you invest in a girl’s education for example, it has been estimated that for each additional year of school attendance beyond fourth grade, her wages rise 20%, child deaths drop 10% and family size drops 20% . A girl that graduates from high school is twice more likely to send her children to school and three times less likely to have HIV.

In order to implement our plans and succeed, we need the right people. I am fortunate to have an amazing team led by Antonella Notari Vischer. I call her “the boss” because she is the one who makes things happen. Like a good entrepreneur, I have many ideas, but an idea without a team to realise it leads nowhere.

But we would not be here without the people who support us.

My dear friend, Dona Bertarelli, who hosted our Gala for many years and was the first one to back me, when I started the Foundation.

Bernard Sabrier who inspired me to fund all the administrative costs of the foundation.

I salute the fantastic members of our honorary committee. My assistant Aurelia Ovan and the team at MCI and Propaganda Live and who have put in a lot of time and effort to make tonight unforgettable.

Anne Lamunière, Aurel Bacs, Mrs Victoria Silvstedt , Louise Ekland and Cécile de Ménibus for running the show tonight. A special greeting also to Mrs Victoria Silvstedt!

Saphia Azzedine, who brought me all the artists for the first Gala.

Yves Bouvier from the Singapore Freeport, who was among the first to support the Foundation.

Our fabulous present and past sponsors and service providers Bat-Mann Constructeur Intégral, Palexpo, Dorier, Ports Francs et Entrepôts de Genève, Immologic, Losinger Marazzi, Blue Infinity, Jabre Capital Partner and Brevan Howard.

Hublot for always being there, since day one.

Caroline Scheufele at Chopard for her faithful support and her amazing generosity.

My friend Hani Kalouti at HBK.

Sylvain Pellettier, Sylvain Coenca and Jean Michel Aaron at la Compagnie des Parcs.

The Tamari family, who are my business partners and friends, and lend me their constant support: thanks Wahbe, Karine, Nicolas and Della.

I believe that we’re stronger together than alone. Partnerships are essential when it comes to solving problems. We want to have partners who push us to think outside of the box, to look at things differently and to be more effective. We’ve had the chance of working with a few foundations for the last few years, who have challenged us and made us more impactful. That’s why I would like to particularly thank the UBS Optimus Foundation, with whom we worked in Afghanistan, and the Trafigura Foundation, who work with us in Brazil and India and on the new Womanity Award and Philip Morris International for supporting the WomenChangeMakers programme. It’s only by working together and using our entrepreneurial skills that we will be able to create real change.

As an entrepreneur I believe in measuring the return on investment. But there is one essential thing that is hard to measure: it’s how we give girls and woman the ability to dream. To be more than what many societies expect them to be. That’s what we at the Womanity Foundation will be focusing on for the years to come. With your help, we will create a world where men and women are given the same rights and chances.

Thank you!

Yann Borgstedt
President of The Womanity Foundation

The Womanity Gala 2016 took place in Geneva, on Thursday 4th February 2016, and raised a record breaking CHF 2.6 million for the Foundation.