Last week, more than 100 countries around the world celebrated International Women’s Day. While it was a celebration for some, the day also served as a stark reminder of the gender inequalities that exist around the world.

In Burkina Faso, for example, just three days before International Women’s Day, the United Nations (UN) humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) released a report detailing a grim state of affairs for this young west African nation. The UN describes ongoing violence and extremism, including incidents of genital mutilation, large-scale school closures depriving approximately 150,000 children of education, and overwhelming food insecurity. More than 70,000 people — mostly women and children — have begun fleeing their homes in the last two months alone as a result.

How do we begin to tackle gender equality when many are struggling to have their basic needs met? UNICEF shares that life-skills education has been instrumental in helping people to cope and adapt during these uncertain times in Burkina Faso.

Enter Anna Pertl

From food and water security to quality education and decent work, inequities like those described today in Burkina Faso can be difficult to imagine, especially if you have not experienced them yourself. But taking action and advocating for others has never been an issue for Anna Pertl.

Anna PertlNow 17, Anna founded One Women One Garden at 15, after becoming fed up with the socioeconomic disparities between women and men in Burkina Faso. As a teen social entrepreneur, her organization has helped more than 5,000 women achieve economic stability despite tumultuous conditions that exist today. What began with an only some seeds in fertilizer has transformed into an economically viable, self-sustaining business that allows women to break free from the cycle of poverty.

Anna has been recognized and selected as one of 32 teenagers from around the world who will participate in the 2019 We Are Family Foundation Three Dot Dash social entrepreneurship incubator.

Peace is possible if our basic human needs are met.” – Mattie J.T. Stepanek

We Are Family Foundation: 2019 CohortThis week, the 32 teen leaders convened in New York City to kick off the 11th Annual Three Dot Dash Just Peace Summit. The global teen leaders represent 15 countries on six continents and they aren’t waiting around for anyone else to lead the way. They are forging their own path, taking complicated global issues into their own hands — and they are succeeding. This global cohort of social entrepreneurs was carefully selected from hundreds of applicants. They are innovating technology and harnessing creativity to keep our water systems clean, rethink approaches to cancer research, put youth at the forefront of civic engagement, transform urban forestry industries, and use machine learning to tackle modern day crises, among other vital challenges.

We Are Family

Legendary musician Nile Rodgers also knows a thing or two about forging one’s own path. He has successfully used his platform in the arts to convey the importance of creating a global family that fosters social innovation to help achieve world peace. As founder and chairman of We Are Family Foundation, Rodgers is nurturing and mentoring the vision, talents, and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world.

“Just listening to their voices and their ideas gives me a huge amount of hope,” he shares. “With their innovative and creative minds, they are changing the world for the better of all of us on the planet. We are honored again this year to have SAP as our partner to nurture and support the new generation of socially conscious humans.”

A Lesson for SAP in Reverse-Mentoring

SAP has a lot to learn from entrepreneurs like Anna, who is taking One Women One Garden to the next level with the help of technology. Anna is creating a cell phone platform that will help women connect, exchange experiences, and make digital purchases of garden resources — ultimately creating a network of women throughout Burkina Faso to further empower each other.

We are inspired by these global teen leaders’ efforts and seek to inspire them in return.

“It is an honor to partner with We Are Family Foundation and support its Three Dot Dash global teen leader initiative,” shares Alexandra van der Ploeg, head of Global Corporate Social Responsibility for SAP. “Our organizations are committed to equipping young people like the global teen leaders with the skills needed to tackle society’s problems and to turn the world’s greatest challenges into our biggest opportunities. The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and it is our duty to make them ready for what lies ahead.”

This week’s kick-off in New York City is a crash course for the global teen leaders in what lies ahead of them throughout this incubator. Creativity, hard work, networking, skill development, and, of course, accelerated social impact. Alongside Three Dot Dash mentors, SAP will also help the cohort absorb vital 21st century skills as presented in the Learning for Life portfolio while also helping the global teen leaders gain access to new markets and global ecosystems.

SAP is committed to helping every business become a best-run business, and being the best means making a difference. It means connecting people and information to address the world’s biggest challenges. When we accelerate the outcomes and impact of social enterprises like One Woman One Garden, we are helping the world’s economy, society, and environment prosper.

As SAP CEO Bill McDermott often says, “Being a purpose-driven company is more about who you dedicate yourself to than what you achieve.” That’s what this program is all about. SAP hopes to play a small part in creating an incredible experience for — and accelerating the impact of — these 32 13- to 19-year-old entrepreneurs. Because we’re confident that these are the leaders who will continue to play a large role in helping the world run better and improving people’s lives.

About We Are Family Foundation

We Are Family Foundation is a not-for-profit organization founded by legendary musician Nile Rodgers and is dedicated to the visions of a global family by creating programs that promote cultural diversity while nurturing and mentoring the vision, talents and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world.

About Three Dot Dash

Three Dot Dash is a global youth initiative of We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) inspired by the late New York Times best-selling poet and peacemaker, 13-year-old Mattie J.T. Stepanek. It is a year-long social entrepreneur incubator and mentoring program designed to amplify the work of young people successfully addressing issues related to basic human needs (education, environment, food, health, safety, shelter, water), and having a positive impact on our global communities. “Peace is possible if our basic human needs are met.” – Mattie J.T. Stepanek

For more information, please visit wearefamilyfoundation.org and threedotdash.org.

About Learning for Life

Learning for Life is an inclusive education, training, and workforce-readiness initiative from SAP. With a portfolio of more than 30 digital literacy programs, Learning for Life opens opportunities and changes people’s lives by ensuring everyone — regardless of age or background — has the relevant skills to thrive, innovate, and secure meaningful work in a digital world. Learning for Life focuses on three areas to equip people with digital skills: 1) preparing the future workforce; 2) reskilling today’s workforce; and 3) ensuring access for all. By putting people at the heart of digital transformation, Learning for Life embodies SAP’s commitment to building an inclusive, skilled workforce to power the digital enterprise. Together, we can help the world run better and improve people’s lives.