Empowering women leaders: the impact of the Laidlaw Scholarship

4 minute read

For too long, women have been underrepresented in C-suites and boardrooms. According to a Deloitte report, women hold less than one-quarter (23.3%) of the world's board seats. Meanwhile, 8.4% of the world's boards are chaired by women, and 6% of CEOs are women. The C-suite roles occupied by women are about 11%. Laidlaw breaks down barriers by investing in these scholarships, providing women with the education and networks needed to achieve equal footing. This commitment has already seen over 300 women earn their MBAs at prestigious institutions, opening doors to leadership roles that were previously out of reach.

As Melinda Gates reminds us: 'Understanding the link between women's empowerment and the wealth and health of societies is crucial for humanity.' The Laidlaw Foundation embodies this truth, investing in exceptional women to pursue their MBAs at top schools like Saïd Business School, Oxford.

The Laidlaw Foundation understands that creating a wave of change requires a strong current. They are building a pipeline of future leaders by funding scholarships for exceptional women. For instance, throughout my life and career, I've seen first-hand the power of women driving positive change. I've helped over 1.5 million people become debt-free in Nigeria, organized relevant events for 500+ female entrepreneurs, and engaged over 1,300 young people across 13 African countries in employability initiatives, amongst other things. These accomplishments wouldn't have been possible without the support of countless women – from family, friends, team, and other members of my support system. Even my initial staff at Mwanga was entirely female, and over 60% of the 500+ people who have worked for me throughout the years have been women. Indeed, women have become my strongest comrades and allies.

So, when it was clear that I needed to close some gaps to enable me to solve more significant problems, I knew that I needed a school that would not only have a strong faculty but one with similar values as mine and could be the perfect ally in my growth journey. This spirit of collaboration led me to Saïd Business School, known for its commitment to impact, inclusion, and fostering change. This same reason drove my decision on which scholarships to apply for, which saw Laidlaw as one of the perfect channels of support, empowerment, and allyship. The Laidlaw Scholarship isn't just about financial support. It's about fostering a community of exceptional women from across the globe.

I want to highlight a few of these remarkable individuals who have become my sisters and comrades:

  • Simeen Kaleem from India empowers 300,000+ farmers through data-driven insights into their work, enabling them to make better income through her social impact unicorn Grahmal.
  • Atswei Mensah, from Ghana, is a risk management expert who helps financial institutions optimize their risk management tools and processes. Her work has helped businesses remodel their strategies with better insights.
  • Durga Ravindran, from India, champions female inclusion through strategic policy advancement. She has empowered women in Telangana by improving policies regarding women's entrepreneurship, education, and maternal and child nutrition.
  • Drishti Basi from India advocates for systems change through multi-partner collaborations. She mobilizes governments, NGOs, funders, and businesses to collaborate to bridge gaps in broken service delivery systems.
  • Patricia Goncalves, from Portugal, is very bullish about developing sustainable solutions to fight climate change. She has advised executive management in 8 countries and was also part of the University of Oxford's delegation to COP28.
  • Jessica Lauw from Indonesia translates innovative ideas and visions for early-stage founders. She also empowers young female STEM leaders through a training platform she developed to train 3,100+ Indonesian teachers.
  • Shreya Bothra, from India, is a brand marketing professional and gender equality advocate who empowers young women through her online platform, The Thinking Woman.
  • Delicia Ulyta from Indonesia is a financial services expert driving financial inclusion in the Southeast Asia region by delivering innovative and accessible financial products that have meaningful impacts on the broader community.
  • Lisa Mugure from Kenya is a seasoned engineering and business professional with experience spanning infrastructure development and business development, helping organizations navigate complex challenges.

These are just a few of the incredible 300+ women empowered by the Laidlaw Foundation's Women's Business Education Scholarship. Together, we represent a force for positive change, shaping the future of billions across the globe.

To Lord Laidlaw and CEO Susanna Kemp, thank you for staying committed to helping more women break the glass ceiling by expanding their access to top education. To the Laidlaw Foundation team, Dean Soumitra Dutta, Amy Major, Stana Orihelova, Princess Agina, Tammy Brophy and the entire Saïd Business School team, I say thank you for your commitment to driving women's inclusion. You have provided a ladder for women to climb, and in doing so, you have invested in a brighter future for us all. As Michelle Obama reminds us, 'No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women.' You have recognized this potential, and we are forever grateful; please take your front-row seats and watch as our incredible journeys start to take a unique leap.

To my fellow sisters in strength - the Laidlaw Scholars, let this be a reminder of our incredible journey. May we continue to inspire each other and pave the way for a more equitable future. Together, we rise. 

Oxford MBA