Move over Fortune 500, new index celebrates unusual CEOs

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Move over Fortune 500, new index celebrates unusual CEOs
H&M Foundation manager Diana Amini poses with portraits of women on its Foundation 500 list of female entrepreneurs in emerging markets in Stockholm.

stockholm - 'Foundation 500' list features the portraits and careers of 500 female entrepreneurs in 11 emerging markets

By Anna Ringstrom

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Published: Wed 14 Jun 2017, 6:28 PM

Last updated: Wed 14 Jun 2017, 8:29 PM

From a Peruvian trout farm manager to the head of an Indonesian meatball company, a list of 500 women entrepreneurs in emerging markets was launched on Thursday to challenge the stereotype of a typical company boss and inspire women globally.

The 'Foundation 500' list features the portraits and careers of 500 female entrepreneurs in 11 emerging markets where women are often refused the same access to education, financial services and bank loans as men.

The list, an initiative of humanitarian agency Care and the non-profit H&M Foundation, mirrors the Fortune 500 list of US companies but highlights unusual chief executives, ranging from a Zambian woman who set up a mobile drug store to a woman in Jordan who set up a temporary tattoo studio.

Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of Swedish retailer H&M that founded the H&M Foundation, said the project was designed to create role models for women in emerging markets and challenging perceptions in developed countries of business leaders.

"The entrepreneur is our time's hero and a role model for many young but the picture given of who is an entrepreneur is still very homogenous and many probably associate it to men from the startup world," Persson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

He said all the women in the list had made an incredible effort.

"But one that stands out to me is Philomene Tia, a multi-entrepreneur from the Ivory Coast who has overcome setbacks such as war and being a refugee, and who has, in spite of it, always returned to entrepreneurship to create a better future - and a strong voice in society."

Tia is the owner of a bus company in the Ivory Coast, a chain of beverage stores, a hotel complex and a cattle breeding operation.

"I often tell other women that it is the force inside you and your brains that will bring you wherever you want to go. I mean, I started with nothing and I don't even speak proper French, but look at me now," she was quoted on the project's website

The women featured are from Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Peru, Guatemala, Jordan, Zambia, Burundi, the Ivory Coast and Yemen.

One of the women portrayed is Andrea Gala, 20, a trout farm manager in Peru and president of the women-only Trout Producers Association. "This business has worked out so well for us now we don't depend on our fields anymore, which is hard work and often badly paid," Gala said in a report on the project.

"With the association, we want to open a restaurant one day, next to the trout farm, so we can attract more visitors. We want to turn the area into a tourist zone, where people can come and relax and enjoy our restaurant." - Reuters

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