Supporting Country Transition through Developing Women Leadership

Nov 05 2018

Susan Davis International (SDI), a woman-owned small business, first worked with USAID in the 1980s, providing communications training to women from developing countries. In the ensuing years SDI worked with more than a dozen foreign government entities and international development NGOs, providing communications support that enabled them to inform and educate potential donors, and offer crisis support.

In the last two decades, SDI has worked to support international development on a larger scale, identifying individuals and organizations that have the ability to make profound differences in developing nations around the world. The SDI team has come to understand that a small firm, can use its particular experience, in this instance communication skills, and training emerging women leaders, to make a profound difference in international development. Some examples:

Vital Voices

For almost 20 years SDI has provided pro-bono support to Vital Voices Global Partnership (VVGP), a State Department grantee that works with emerging women leaders in 144 countries in conflict and transition and has trained more than 14,000 women in economic empowerment, women’s participation in civic life, and human rights. SDI has provided media training for women from over 12 countries, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Guatemala. The Chairman Susan Davis has mentored more than a dozen women leaders through the Fortune – U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, a public-private partnership between Fortune Most Powerful Women, the U.S. Department of State, and Vital Voices Global Partnership.

SDI provides individual mentoring that enables participants to return home with critical business and leadership skills and the inspiration to pay it forward, accelerating positive change in their home communities. Susan Davis also worked with Bank of America to create The Global Ambassadors Program, training and mentoring women entrepreneurs who practice transformative leadership to advance economic development in their communities.

SDI has also provided pro bono support to the Global Freedom Exchange (GFE), a Hilton Vital Voices partnership partially funded by the U.S. Department of State to leverage leadership to end sex and labor trafficking. SDI provides educational and mentoring assistance to emerging and established women leaders who are on the forefront of global efforts to prevent and respond to human trafficking.

During the past five years, the GFE has trained 112 women leaders from 45 countries through a two-week experiential, interactive, learning and networking program in three cities in the United States that have developed unique, effective approaches to addressing human trafficking. Through these programs, and others, SDI have mentored emerging women leaders from Mexico, India, Iraq, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Jordan, Ghana, South Africa, Pakistan and Kenya among other nations.

Girls Education in Afghanistan

SDI has been supporting Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation for the past decade. Started by Razia Jan, the foundation created a school for girls in Afghanistan when the Zabuli Education Center opened in a poor rural area outside Kabulin 2008, 109 girls were enrolled, an amazing number at the time.

As word of the school’s success and its capacity for change spread to the surrounding communities, the enrollment numbers have soared. More teachers have been recruited and buildings expanded. This December will be the fourth graduation. An Institute has been built to help them continue their education and scholarships are now available for girls wishing to continue their education in Kabul. SDI provides communications strategy, media relations support, and fundraising support to Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation.

Understanding the need to reach more people with Razia’s message, SDI promoted Razia Jan as part of CNN’s Heroes Campaign, leading her to be named one of CNN’s Heroes for 2012. The attendant publicity helped lay the groundwork for the Foundation’s first large-scale fundraising campaign the following year. During the course of the past decade, the enrollment rate increased by over 600 percent; More than 600 girls are now in school and 300 more are on the waiting list.

Supporting Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan

In October of 2012, a masked gunman boarded a school bus in Pakistan and shot 15-year old Malala Yousafzai. That terrible act gave rise to a movement. As Board Chair of Vital Voices, Susan Davis oversaw the creation of the Malala Foundation at the behest of Malala’s family, and supervised the Foundation for nearly two years until the Foundation created enough staff and experience to stand alone. In 2013, Susan Davis accepted the Public Relations Person of the Year award on behalf of Malala.