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ShEquity: A Refugee’s Path to Empowering Women and Their Businesses

Pauline Koelbl.JPG
Pauline Koelbl

Surviving life as a refugee is one thing. To turn that life into a mission to empower other women is quite another.

That’s exactly what Pauline Koelbl did. Escaping the war in Rwanda, she found herself a homeless refugee. Eventually, Pauline found a home in Tucson, Arizona. More importantly, she found mentoring and support there – and now “pays it forward” as the founder and managing director of ShEquity, an investment firm providing capital and other resources to women-led and -owned businesses in Africa. Women are the key to unlocking economic success on the continent; they operate over 40% of small and medium sized enterprises. What’s more, they reinvest about 90% of their revenue in sectors and activities that benefit their families and communities – men only reinvest 40%. That’s one of many reasons the McKinsey Global Institute estimates the global GDP would increase by $28 trillion if we simply closed the business gender gap!

Pauline shares her compelling story of refugee-turned-entrepreneur focused on female empowerment, with host Maureen Metcalf.

Pauline Koelbl is AfriProspect GmbH’s Founder/CEO as well as ShEquity’s Founder/Managing Partner. AfriProspect focuses on connecting African innovators with global markets, and ShEquity provides smart investment to impactful and scalable African female-led and owned businesses. Pauline also has 10+ years’ experience catalyzing innovation and entrepreneurship across Africa. Her passion lies in innovation, entrepreneurship, youth, and women economic empowerment. A double Fulbright -Scholar and Fellow-, Pauline is currently serving on a variety of boards of companies/organizations connected to business, entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa. Pauline holds an Executive Education in Innovation for Economic Development from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government; a Master’s Degree in Poverty and Development, Institute of Development Studies (IDS) from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (Honors) from the University of Arizona, USA.