Emilie Kimball

Embassy Event Raises $26,000 for Women-Owned Microbusiness in Ghana

Last summer, Emilie Kimball, now a junior at the National Cathedral School for Girls in Washington, D.C., traveled to Ghana. There the fifteen-year-old met Gifty Saah, a former teacher who had lost her job, gone into debt, and could no longer afford the fees to send her children to public school. As a member of Women in Progress’s Global Mamas Cooperative, Gifty did not give up. Instead, she started a microbusiness with help from the cooperative. Emilie was impressed that Gifty’s hard work eliminated her debt (the equivalent of 556 U.S. dollars), restored her home’s utility services, and put her children back in school. Thinking of Gifty, Emilie returned to her community determined to raise funds to help other women benefit from such a successful program.

After attending Take the Lead at Mount Holyoke College, Emilie set a goal of raising $15,000 by selling colorful batik clothing made by women in the cooperative. In the end, she did that and a lot more. On April 8, the high-school junior from Potomac, Maryland, held a major fundraiser for Women In Progress (www.womeninprogress.org), sponsored by the ambassador of Ghana and held at the Ghanaian embassy in Washington.

The evening featured Ghanaian entertainment and food as well as spring and summer apparel made by those in Women in Progress. Emilie spoke to the 300-member audience that evening, and learned that—with vision and a clear goal—a project can take on momentum of its own. The embassy event was featured on local television. Emilie received an official citation for her efforts from her state delegate. And the ambassador himself exclaimed, “At a time when children and other young people are assailed and bombarded by all sorts of attractions and distractions...it is incredible that a fifteen-year-old girl [she’s now sixteen] should be so inspired to wish to make a difference in the lives of not children, but adult women she had come to appreciate and love in Ghana. Emilie, you are my hero this evening and I wish to commend you.”