Self-sufficiency sits at the core of feminism. While most of us collegiettes pride our self-sufficiency on things like being able to buy our own books or make our own meals (yes, ramen totally counts), Christine Savino had something a little different in mind. Determined to help impoverished women become independent women, she started Her Global Initiative, a program that helps women living below the poverty line achieve entrepreneurial success. By helping women help themselves, Christine is giving rise to a whole new crop of lady bosses.
Name: Christine Savino
Majors: Business Management and Political Science
Minor: Human Rights
Graduation Year: 2018
Her Campus: What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
Christine Savino: My greatest achievement to date is really inspiring other women to be economically empowered and to do amazing things through Her Global Initiative, a program that provides impoverished women in third world countries microcredit at low interest rates in order to fund business and entrepreneurial endeavors. It also provides them with educational initiatives through volunteer tutors and educators from universities within the U.S. who dedicate their breaks in impoverished countries such as Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Ghana. Malala once stated that “we cannot succeed when half of us are held back,” and when I heard this it deeply clicked with me. I too wholeheartedly believe that when women are empowered, all of humanity is empowered, which is why I started Her Global Initiative. By providing women who typically live in cultures where self-sustainment is condoned with educational services and low interest loans so that they can pursue business ventures, we have opened the door for the other half of the world to finally grow and pursue entrepreneurship.
HC: What was the hardest part of founding and developing the International Women’s Initiative?
CS: The hardest part about founding and developing Her Global Initiative was definitely securing funding for impoverished women so that they could find empowerment through microcredit and gender lens investing. Essentially, these initiatives are forms of micro lending, or the low interest loaning of capital in increments to those in third world countries. Many organizations who offer similar initiatives require lengthy amounts of business experience, are otherwise highly difficult to receive loans from and tend to focus on female entrepreneurs in first world countries. But 70 percent of the 1.3 billion worldwide living in extreme poverty are female, and I believe that it is time we start providing these women the opportunity to empower themselves through entrepreneurial business. Many banks, philanthropic organizations and businesses felt that this initiative was too risky, and pitching my idea for how the organization was going to be successful was merely just that--an idea. How would anyone be able to support such a difficult and large-scale project? But, with enough time, deals and sleepless nights, we secured enough funds to help Her Global Initiative take off and thousands of women financially prosper.
HC: Why has your participation with Her Global Initiative been so instrumental in your life?
CS: My participation in Her Global Initiative has been extremely instrumental in my life as it has given it a new meaning--to help others in need. When we provide a woman in Bangladesh the necessary funds to finally start selling her handmade clothing, for instance, this allows her to eventually generate a profit margin. With this capital, she can now invest in her clothing business by purchasing more and better quality cloth and stitching, which will broaden her profit margin further. With our educational services and continued micro lending, she will be given the opportunity to thrive and finally break free of a cycle of poverty. Also, one of our most important goals is making sure that her children, even if they are daughters, will be inspired and financially able to purse futures of independence and prosperity.
HC: Who in your life most inspires you?
CS: The person in my life who most inspires me is my mother. She grew up economically disadvantaged, and she instilled in me at a young age the importance of self-reliance and hard work in order to break out of the poverty cycle. Although she passed when I was in high school, I still hold onto her words of wisdom and try and touch as many women as possible with them daily.
HC: What advice do you have for other ambitious collegiettes?
CS: I know it might sound a bit cheesy, but my advice to other ambitious collegiettes with a dream is to work hard and never give up until you fulfill your goal. Half of the battle is finding what you’re passionate about and solidifying what you want to accomplish. After that it’s simply having the drive and ambition to carry your plan out. Of course, you’ll face a lot more nos before you hear a yes, and things aren’t always going to go as planned! With Her Global Initiative, I was told that my targeted audience would never be able to support businesses and that I would fail in my juvenile attempts at helping them. Had I listened to them, thousands of women would be without the capital they need for economic self-sufficiency.
HC: What are your top goals and priorities post-graduation?
CS: My top priority post-graduation is to grow Her Global Initiative and touch as many lives as possible through its microcredit and gender lens investing techniques. If we can include even more women, banks, teachers and public advocates in supporting the Her Global Initiative, we will be able to touch thousands more women in the next decade. We are especially focused on the most impoverished areas where women are in most need, such as Ghana and Bangladesh, and I hope to see the GDP of such countries rise from the Her Global Initiative. With strong teamwork and enough time, we can literally change the world.
HC: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
CS: “If it’s both terrifying and amazing, then you should definitely pursue it.”
HC: How would you describe yourself in five words?
CS: Determined, inclusive, proactive, headstrong and entrepreneurial.
*This article was amended 8/29 to reflect a name change to Her Global Initiative.
Elana is a sophomore in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, majoring in magazine journalism and economics. She currently works as an editorial intern for Her Campus, as well as a writer for her school's chapter, Her Campus Northwestern. She'll be going abroad in the fall to study journalism in Prague, working at a local media outlet in addition to her classes. In her free time, she captains her Dance Marathon team and teaches local public high schoolers through Peer Health Exchange. She loves spinning, hates nutella, and is totally indifferent towards baby animals. After graduation, she hopes to work for a high-profile lifestyle publication.