“Be the change you wish to see in the world. May this citation, widely attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, inspire and guide all of us in changing the world.”
Yann Borgstedt is a Swiss entrepreneur and philanthropist. Born and raised in Geneva, he pursued his studies in the USA. He has created, invested in and managed a wide range of companies in the real estate development, relocation and storage domains in France, England and Switzerland.
In 2005, he created the Womanity Foundation, which focuses on the education, training and empowerment of women in Afghanistan, Brazil, India, the Middle East and North Africa region and elsewhere.
Amongst other innovative initiatives, Womanity created the first commercial women’s radio exclusively in the Middle East, called “Radio NISAA FM”, and played a key role in the transformation of the largest school for girls in Afghanistan into a model school (Al Fatah). Womanity’s WomenChangeMakers Fellowship was launched in 2009 to identify and support social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions for the empowerment of women. The program was inspired by the Ashoka model, which Yann has become familiar with in recent years, particularly through his participation in Ashoka’s Support Network in Switzerland and France, where he worked with François Marty development sustainable social housing.
Yann also sits on the board of the “Gender Equality Project”, a Swiss Foundation working towards equal professional opportunities for men and women. He is also on the board of Internews, an international non-profit organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect and the means to make their voices heard.
He has a small portfolio of social investments as with www.microdon.org, www.mymela.com, www.twodegreesfood.com, Zewaow and http://alter-equity.com and is also a member of YPO network (Young Presidents Organization).
He also has focused on green development projects including the most recent plans for the development of a green neighborhood in Geneva’s Praille-Acacias-Vernets (PAV) district, creating 400 residential apartments (including two-thirds for social housing) and a green residential tower.
Yann has been welcomed by Women Moving Millions as the first European and as one of the rare male members in recognition of his contribution to women’s empowerment and has received the BNP Paribas Award for Individual Philanthropy (Special Jury Prize) in May 2016.
It was an honour for him to be invited to speak at the 2013 TEDx CoventGardenWomen. In this powerful talk, Yann demonstrates the benefits of investing in girls and women.