But make sure you stay tuned.
Over the next few weeks, you'll get to meet the 5 entrepreneurs, each of whom will receive a portion of the funds raised on April 3.
Similar to the pitch process in the WE program, which simulates the process of fundraising, the amount granted to each entrepreneur will vary based on their pitch ranking—as determined by your votes and the Commodity team’s review.
To learn more about how this charity partnership came to be, keep reading. We chatted with Vicken, our Re-Founder and Brand Architect, who has been working with AGBU for nearly half a decade…
When and why did you first get involved with the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU)?
It’s been about 5 years since I started working with the Women Entrepreneurs program at AGBU. Giving back is a big part of my personal philosophy in business and in life. To be honest, I wasn’t a contributor to the AGBU before this program. I like to give to a program that makes a specific impact, and WE does exactly that.
What does your involvement with the WE program look like?
WE currently provides mini-grants to entrepreneurs who pitch their business proposals. Initially, I was looking at the individual proposals from these great aspiring entrepreneurs and getting involved with specific ones. With the first cohort of the WE program, we supported 5 women and their new businesses.
Today, my objective is to help the program as a whole since the impact can be much larger if the program itself thrives.
Why are the AGBU and WE so important, both to you and to those it helps?
I have a deep passion for the entrepreneurial spirit and how entrepreneurship helps build self-confidence, self-worth, and ultimately independence from traditional gender roles and any inequalities that inherently come with it.
Having two daughters, a wife who’s an entrepreneur, and a company filled with badass women, I have a deep respect for women and their abilities. As an Armenian, I always want Armenians to progress around the world. This program combines all of these interests.
What do gender equality and International Women’s Day mean to you? To Commodity?
It’s important to continually put the spotlight on important causes. Although gender equality has made great advances in the past decade, it will still need the spotlight for quite some time. International Women’s Day is an opportunity once a year for all of us to take our efforts one step further.
What are you most looking forward to in regards to the EmpowerHer proposals? Why do the entrepreneurs have to provide business proposals to qualify for these grants?
“If you give someone a fish, you feed them for a day. If you teach someone to fish, you feed them for a lifetime.”
It’s important not to just hand out money, but rather to teach the entrepreneurs how to advocate for their money in a landscape filled with fierce competition.
Plus, they’ll have much higher satisfaction and motivation to keep persevering from the win. This time around I’d love to find some pitches that we can get involved in and help them scale.
How can we empower women globally, and ultimately reach gender equality?
One day, the word “woman” should be removed from these programs. That would be considered a success. We should come to a point when we empower people and make no distinction between gender or race. Until then, we have to highlight the strengths of each group that is underrepresented and agree that we all have weaknesses.
Until we realize that we are all equal with respect to the fact that we all have strengths and weaknesses, we will make no progress.